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The Atoms for Peace Agency

Address by Mr. Dwight D. Eisenhower, President of the United States of America, to the 470th Plenary Meeting
of the United Nations General Assembly

Tuesday, 8 December 1953, 2:45 p.m.
General Assembly President: Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit (India)

Madam President and Members of the General Assembly;

When Secretary General Hammarskjold's invitation to address the General Assembly reached me in Bermuda,
I was just beginning a series of conferences with the prime Ministers and Foreign Ministers of the United
Kingdom and France. Our subject was some of the problems that beset our world. During the remainder of the
Bermuda Conference, I had constantly in mind that ahead of me lay a great honour. That honour is mine today
as I stand here, privileged to address the general Assembly of the United Nations.

At the same time that I appreciate the distinction of addressing you, I have a sense of exhilaration as I look
upon this Assembly. Never before in history has so much hope for so many people been gathered together in
a single organization. Your deliberations and decisions during these sombre years have already realized part
of those hopes.

But the great tests and the great accomplishments still lie ahead. And in the confident expectation of those
accomplishments, I would use the office which, for the time being, I hold, to assure you that the Government of
the United States will remain steadfast in its support of this body. This we shall do in the conviction that you will
provide a great share of the wisdom, of the courage and of the faith which can bring to this world lasting peace
for all nations, and happiness and well-being for all men.

Clearly, it would not be fitting for me to take this occasion to present to you a unilateral American report on
Bermuda. Nevertheless, I assure you that in our deliberations on that lovely island we sought to invoke those
same great concepts of universal peace and human dignity which are so clearly etched in your Charter.
Neither would it be a measure of this great opportunity to recite, however hopefully, pious platitudes. I
therefore decided that this occasion warranted my saying to you some of the things that have been on the
minds and hearts of my legislative and executive associates, and on mine, for a great many months: thoughts I
had originally planned to say primarily to the American people.

I know that the American people share my deep belief that if a danger exists in the world, it is a danger shared
by all; and equally, that if hope exists in the mind of one nation, that hope should be shared by all. Finally, if
there is to be advanced any proposal designed to ease even by the smallest measure the tensions of today's
world, what more appropriate audience could there be than the members of the General Assembly of the
United Nations.

I feel impelled to speak today in a language that in a sense is new, one which I, who have spent so much of my
life in the military profession, would have preferred never to use. That new language is the language of atomic

The atomic age has moved forward at such a pace that every citizen of the world should have some
comprehension, at least in comparative terms, of the extent of this development, of the utmost significance to
every one of us.Clearly, if the peoples of the world are to conduct an intelligent search for peace, they must be
armed with the significant facts of today's existence.

My recital of atomic danger and power is necessarily stated in United States terms, for these are the only
incontrovertible facts that I know, I need hardly point out to this Assembly, however, that this subject is global,
not merely national in character.

On 16 July 1945, the United States set off the world's biggest atomic explosion. Since that date in 1945, the
United States of America has conducted forty-two test explosions. Atomic bombs are more than twenty-five
times as powerful as the weapons with which the atomic age dawned, while hydrogen weapons are in the
ranges of millions of tons of TNT equivalent.

Today, the United States stockpile of atomic weapons, which, of course,increases daily, exceeds by many
times the total equivalent of the total of all bombs and all shells that came from every plane and every gun in
every theatre of war in all the years of the Second World War. A single air group whether afloat or land based,
can now deliver to any reachable target a destructive cargo exceeding in power all the bombs that fell on
Britain in all the Second World War.

In size and variety, the development of atomic weapons has been no less remarkable. The development has
been such that atomic weapons have virtually achieved conventional status within our armed services. In the
United States,the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and the Marine Corps are all capable of putting this weapon to
military use.

But the dread secret and the fearful engines of atomic might are not ours alone.

In the first place, the secret is possessed by our friends and allies, the United Kingdom and Canada, whose
scientific genius made a tremendous contribution to our original discoveries and the designs of atomic bombs.

The secret is also known by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union has informed us that, over recent years, it has
devoted extensive resources to atomic weapons. During this period the Soviet Union has exploded a series of
atomic devices, including at least one involving thermo-nuclear reactions.

If at one time the United States possessed what might have been called a monopoly of atomic power, that
monopoly ceased to exist several years ago.Therefore, although our earlier start has permitted us to
accumulate what is today a great quantitative advantage, the atomic realities of today comprehend two facts of
even greater significance. First, the knowledge now possessed by several nations will eventually be shared by
others, possibly all others.

Second, even a vast superiority in numbers of weapons, and a consequent capability of devastating
retaliation, is no preventive, of itself, against the fearful material damage and toll of human lives that would be
inflicted by surprise aggression.

The free world, at least dimly aware of these facts, has naturally embarked on a large programme of warning
and defence systems. That programme will be accelerated and extended. But let no one think that the
expenditure of vast sums for weapons and systems of defence can guarantee absolute safety for the cities
and citizens of any nation. The awful arithmetic of the atomic bomb doesn't permit of any such easy solution.
Even against the most powerful defence,an aggressor in possession of the effective minimum number of
atomic bombs fora surprise attack could probably place a sufficient number of his bombs on the chosen
targets to cause hideous damage.

Should such an atomic attack be launched against the United States, our reactions would be swift and
resolute. But for me to say that the defence capabilities of the United States are such that they could inflict
terrible losses upon an aggressor, for me to say that the retaliation capabilities of the United States are so
great that such an aggressor's land would be laid waste, all this, while fact, is not the true expression of the
purpose and the hopes of the United States.

To pause there would be to confirm the hopeless finality of a belief that two atomic colossi are doomed
malevolently to eye each other indefinitely across a trembling world. To stop there would be to accept
helplessly the probability of civilization destroyed, the annihilation of the irreplaceable heritage of mankind
handed down to us from generation to generation, and the condemnation of mankind to begin all over again
the age-old struggle upward from savagery towards decency, and right, and justice. Surely no sane member of
the human race could discover victory in such desolation. Could anyone wish his name to be coupled by
history with such human degradation and destruction?Occasional pages of history do record the faces of the
"great destroyers", but the whole book of history reveals mankind's never-ending quest for peace and
mankind's God-given capacity to build.

It is with the book of history, and not with isolated pages, that the United States will ever wish to be identified.
My country wants to be constructive,not destructive. It wants agreements, not wars, among nations. It wants
itself to live in freedom and in the confidence that the peoples of every other nation enjoy equally the right of
choosing their own way of life.

So my country's purpose is to help us to move out of the dark chamber of horrors into the light, to find a way
by which the minds of men, the hopes of men, the souls of men everywhere, can move forward towards peace
and happiness and well-being.

In this quest, I know that we must not lack patience. I know that in a world divided, such as ours today,
salvation cannot be attained by one dramatic act.I know that many steps will have to be taken over many
months before the world can look at itself one day and truly realize that a new climate of mutually peaceful
confidence is abroad in the world. But I know, above all else, that we must start to take these steps - now.

The United States and its allies, the United Kingdom and France, have over the past months tried to take
some of these steps. Let no one say that we shun the conference table. On the record has long stood the
request of the United States, the United Kingdom and France to negotiate with the Soviet Union the problems
of a divided Germany. On that record has long stood the request of the same three nations to negotiate an
Austrian peace treaty. On the same record still stands the request of the United Nations to negotiate the
problems of Korea.

Most recently we have received from the Soviet Union what is in effect an expression of willingness to hold a
four-Power meeting. Along with our allies,the United Kingdom and France, we were pleased to see that this
note did not contain the unacceptable pre-conditions previously put forward. As you already know from our
joint Bermuda communique, the United States, the United Kingdom and France have agreed promptly to meet
with the Soviet Union.

The Government of the United States approaches this conference with hopeful sincerity. We will bend every
effort of our minds to the single purpose of emerging from that conference with tangible results towards peace,
the only true way of lessening international tension.

We never have, and never will, propose or suggest that the Soviet Union surrender what rightly belongs to it.
We will never say that the peoples of the USSR are an enemy with whom we have no desire ever to deal or
mingle in friendly and fruitful relationship.

On the contrary, we hope that this coming conference may initiate a relationship with the Soviet Union which
will eventually bring about a freer mingling of the peoples of the East and of the West - the one sure, human
way of developing the understanding required for confident and peaceful relations.

Instead of the discontent which is now settling upon Eastern Germany,occupied Austria and the countries of
Eastern Europe, we seek a harmonious family of free European nations, with none a threat to the other, and
least of all a threat to the peoples of the USSR. Beyond the turmoil and strife and misery of Asis, we seek
peaceful opportunity for these peoples to develop their natural resources and to elevate their lot.

These are not idle words or shallow visions. Behind them lies a story of nations lately come to independence,
not as a result of war, but through free grant or peaceful negotiation. There is a record already written of
assistance gladly given by nations of the West to needy peoples and to those suffering the temporary effects
of famine, drought and natural disaster. These are deeds of peace. They speak more loudly than promises or
protestations of peaceful intent.

But I do not wish to rest either upon the reiteration of past proposals or the restatement of past deeds. The
gravity of the time is such that every new avenue of peace, no matter how dimly discernible, should be

There is at least one new avenue of peace which has not been well explored -an avenue now laid out by the
General Assembly of the United Nations.

In its resolution of 28 November 1953 (resolution 715 (VIII)) this General Assembly suggested: "that the
Disarmament Commission study the desirability of establishing a sub-committee consisting of representatives
of the Powers principally involved, which should seek in private an acceptable solution and report...on such a
solution to the General Assembly and to the Security Council not later than 1 September 1954.

The United States, heeding the suggestion of the General Assembly of the United Nations, is instantly
prepared to meet privately with such other countries as may be "principally involved", to seek "an acceptable
solution" to the atomic armaments race which overshadows not only the peace, but the very life, of the world.

We shall carry into these private or diplomatic talks a new conception. The United States would seek more
than the mere reduction or elimination of atomic materials for military purposes. It is not enough to take this
weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its
military casing and adapt it to the arts of peace.

The United States knows that if the fearful trend of atomic military build-up can be reversed, this greatest of
destructive forces can be developed into a great boon, for the benefit of all mankind. The United States knows
that peaceful power from atomic energy is no dream of the future. The capability,already proved, is here
today. Who can doubt that, if the entire body of the world's scientists and engineers had adequate amounts of
fissionable material with which to test and develop their ideas, this capability would rapidly be transformed into
universal, efficient and economic usage?

To hasten the day when fear of the atom will begin to disappear from the minds the people and the
governments of the East and West, there are certain steps that can be taken now.

I therefore make the following proposal.

The governments principally involved, to the extent permitted by elementary prudence, should begin now and
continue to make joint contributions from their stockpiles of normal uranium and fissionable materials to an
international atomic energy agency. We would expect that such an agency would be set up under the aegis of
the United Nations. The ratios of contributions, the procedures and other details would properly be within the
scope of the "private conversations" I referred to earlier.

The United States is prepared to undertake these explorations in good faith.Any partner of the United States
acting in the same good faith will find the United States a not unreasonable or ungenerous associate.

Undoubtedly, initial and early contributions to this plan would be small in quantity. However, the proposal has
the great virtue that it can be undertaken without the irritations and mutual suspicions incident to any attempt
to set up a completely acceptable system of world-wide inspection and control.

The atomic energy agency could be made responsible for the impounding,storage and protection of the
contributed fissionable and other materials. The ingenuity of our scientists will provide special safe conditions
under which such a bank of fissionable material can be made essentially immune to surprise seizure.

The more important responsibility of this atomic energy agency would be to devise methods whereby this
fissionable material would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind. Experts would be mobilized
to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine and other peaceful activities. A special purpose
would be to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.

Thus the contributing Powers would be dedicating some of their strength to serve the needs rather than the
fears of mankind.

The United States would be more than willing - it would be proud to take up with others "principally involved"
the development of plans whereby such peaceful use of atomic energy would be expedited.

Of those "principally involved" the Soviet Union must, of course, be one.

I would be prepared to submit to the Congress of the United States, and with every expectation of approval,
any such plan that would, first, encourage world-wide investigation into the most effective peacetime uses of
fissionable material, and with the certainty that the investigators had all the material needed for the conducting
of all experiments that were appropriate; second,begin to diminish the potential destructive power of the
world's atomic stockpiles; third, 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 in
building up the armaments of war; fourth, open up a new channel for peaceful discussion and initiative at least
a new approach to the many difficult problems that must be solved in both private and public conversations if
the world is to shake off the inertia imposed by fear and is to make positive progress towards peace.

Against the dark background of the atomic bomb, the United States does not wish merely to present strength,
but also the desire and the hope for peace.The coming months will be fraught with fateful decisions. In this
Assembly, in the capitals and military headquarters of the world, in the hearts of men everywhere, be they
governed or governors, may they be the decisions which will lead this world out of fear and into peace.

To the making of these fateful decisions, the United States pledges before you, and therefore before the
world, its determination to help solve the fearful atomic dilemma - to devote its entire heart and mind to finding
the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to
his life.

I again thank representatives for the great honour they have done me in inviting me to appear before them
and in listening to me so graciously.

Related Resources
Chronology of Events
Then & Now [pdf]
IAEA Statute
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

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