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Commemoration of 50th Anniversary of "Atoms for Peace"


Ceremony for Dedication of Bust of Eisenhower

Eisenhower’s "Atoms for Peace" vision, and the creation of the IAEA as a practical manifestation of that vision, came at a time when the horrifying images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still fresh — and when fears of the rush to acquire nuclear weapons were well-founded.

"Atoms for Peace" was a recognition of the double edged sword inherent in the atom, and invoked a solemn commitment to the ideal that nuclear science and technology should be used exclusively for peaceful purposes.

In rereading Eisenhower’s memorable speech to the UN General Assembly, I was struck by a number of concepts and ideas in the speech:

The first is that:

  • "Clearly, if the people of the world are to conduct an intelligent search for peace, they must be armed with the significant facts of today’s existence";
  • In other words, the vision of "Atoms for Peace" must be a dynamic one, a vision that is carried out in a manner that is adjustable to current challenges.

The second is the plan for implementing the vision:

  • To encourage global investigation into the most effective peaceful uses of nuclear material;
  • To "allow all peoples of all nations to see that, in this enlightened age, the great powers of the earth, both of the East and of the West, are interested in human aspirations first rather than building up the armaments of war";
  • To open up a new channel for dialogue and develop new approaches for solving problems of global fear and insecurity; and
  • To begin to diminish the destructive power of existing stockpiles.

This "plan for action", was clearly prescient and though a work in progress, is still as valid today as in 1953: co-operative development of peaceful technologies, active efforts to achieve nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, clear commitment to the rights of all people to live in peace, and continued dialogue in seeking solutions for our fears and insecurities.

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of "Atoms for Peace", it is appropriate here at the Agency — the "brainchild" of Eisenhower and the global centre for turning this vision into reality — to rededicate ourselves to exert every effort to achieve this plan of action. Eisenhower understood the complexity of the task:

  • "In this quest, we must not lack patience."

We still have much work to do. But as just stated, we must not lack patience, and we must not lose faith.

It is in this spirit that, on behalf of the International Atomic Energy Agency, I am honoured to accept this bust of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Last update: 26 July 2017