Atoms for Peace

"Atoms for Peace" was the title of a speech delivered by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the UN General Assembly in New York City on December 8, 1953.

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 warfare.[1]

The United States then launched an "Atoms for Peace" program that supplied equipment and information to schools, hospitals, and research institutions within the U.S. and throughout the world. The first nuclear reactors in Iran, Israel[2] and Pakistan were built under the program by American Machine and Foundry, a company more commonly known as a major manufacturer of bowling equipment.

Atoms for Peace stamp
American stamp of 1955 in allusion to the program Atoms for Peace


The speech was part of a carefully orchestrated media campaign, called "Operation Candor", to enlighten the American public on the risks and hopes of a nuclear future. It was a propaganda component of the Cold War strategy of containment.[3] Eisenhower's speech opened a media campaign that would last for years and that aimed at "emotion management,"[4] balancing fears of continuing nuclear armament with promises of peaceful use of uranium in future nuclear reactors.[5] The speech was a tipping point for international focus on peaceful uses of atomic energy, even during the early stages of the Cold War. Eisenhower, with some influence from J. Robert Oppenheimer, may have been attempting to convey a spirit of comfort to a terrified world after the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and of the nuclear tests of the early 1950s.[6]

It presented an ostensible antithesis to brinkmanship, the international intrigue that subsequently kept the world at the edge of war.

Atoms For Peace symbol
The Atoms for Peace symbol mounted over the door to the American swimming pool reactor building during the 1955 International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy in Geneva, often called the Atoms for Peace conference.

However, recent historians have tended to see the speech as a cold war maneuver directed primarily at U.S. allies in Europe. Eisenhower wanted to make sure that the European allies would go along with the shift in NATO strategy from an emphasis on conventional weapons to cheaper nuclear weapons. Western Europeans wanted reassurance that the U.S. did not intend to provoke a nuclear war in Europe, and the speech was designed primarily to create that sense of reassurance. Eisenhower later said that he knew the Soviets would reject the specific proposal he offered in the speech.

Eisenhower's invoking of "those same great concepts of universal peace and human dignity which are so clearly etched in" the UN Charter placed new emphasis upon the U.S. responsibility for its nuclear actions—past, present and future. This address laid down the rules of engagement for the new kind of warfare: the cold war.

Two quotations from the speech follow:

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 agreement, not wars, among nations. It wants itself to live in freedom, and in the confidence that the people of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing their own way of life.

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 find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life.

Effects of the speech

Prior to Eisenhower's speech, the state of atomic development in the world was under strict secrecy. The information and expertise needed for atomic development was bound by the secret Quebec Agreement of 1943 and thus not devoted to peaceful processes, but instead as a weapon to defend against other countries which were developing and using the same weaponry.[7] With atomic development thus far under wraps, there were no safety protocols and no standards developed.

Eisenhower's speech was an important moment in political history as it brought the atomic issue which had been kept quiet for "national security" into the public eye, asking the world to support his solution. Eisenhower was determined to solve "the fearful atomic dilemma" by finding some way by which "the miraculous inventiveness of man would not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life." Unfortunately, Eisenhower was not completely effective in his repurposing; Eisenhower himself approved the National Security Council (NSC) document which stated that only a massive atomic weapon base would deter violence from the Soviet Union. The belief that to avoid a nuclear war, the United States must stay on the offensive, ready to strike at any time, is the same reason that the Soviet Union would not give up its atomic weapons either. During Eisenhower's time in office the nuclear holdings of the US rose from 1,005 to 20,000 weapons.

The "Atoms for Peace" program opened up nuclear research to civilians and countries that had not previously possessed nuclear technology. Eisenhower argued for a nonproliferation agreement throughout the world and argued for a stop of the spread of military use of nuclear weapons. Although the nations that already had atomic weapons kept their weapons and grew their supplies, very few other countries have developed similar weapons—in this sense, it has been very much contained. The "Atoms for Peace" program also created regulations for the use of nuclear power and through these regulations stopped other countries from developing weapons while allowing the technology to be used for positive means.


1356th BOG Special Session (01611244) (9406686883)
The "Atoms for Peace" slogan still in use above the panel at a 2013 IAEA meeting

"Atoms for Peace" created the ideological background for the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, but also gave political cover for the U.S. nuclear weapons build-up, and the backdrop to the Cold War arms race. Under programs related to "Atoms for Peace," the U.S. exported over 25 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to 30 countries, mostly to fuel research reactors, and is now regarded as a proliferation and terrorism risk. Under a similar program, the Soviet Union (now Russia and some countries which are separated from it ) exported over 11 tons of HEU.[8][9]

See also


  1. ^ Gerhard Peters, John T. Woolley; University of California, Santa Barbara (December 8, 1953). "Address Before the General Assembly of the United Nations on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, New York City".
  2. ^ Cohen, Avner; Burr, William (15 April 2015). "The Eisenhower Administration and the Discovery of Dimona: March 1958-January 1961". National Security Archive. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  3. ^ Ira Chernus. Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace. College Station TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2002.
  4. ^ Chernus 2002, 51.
  5. ^ Stephanie Cooke. In Mortal Hands. A Cautionary History of the Nuclear Age. Bloomsbury USA, 2009,106-32.
  6. ^ Chernus 2002, 53-65.
  7. ^ "Quebec Agreement".
  8. ^ David Albright, Kimberley Kramer, "Civil HEU Watch: Tracking Inventories of Civil Highly Enriched Uranium," August 2005 (revised), p. 5-7.
  9. ^ Andrea. "Civil HEU Watch: Tracking Inventories of Civil Highly Enriched Uranium | Institute for Science and International Security". Retrieved 2018-12-09.


External links

Amok (Atoms for Peace album)

Amok is the debut studio album by the supergroup Atoms for Peace, released on February 25, 2013 by XL Recordings. It features Radiohead singer Thom Yorke (vocals, keyboards, programming and guitars), Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich (production and programming), Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, drummer Joey Waronker, and percussionist Mauro Refosco. It combines Yorke's electronic music with live instrumentation.

Amok produced four singles: "Default", "Ingenue", "Judge, Jury and Executioner" and "Before Your Very Eyes...". A music video for "Ingenue" was released via YouTube on February 28, 2013. The album received generally favourable reviews and reached the top ten in several countries, including the UK, US, and Japan.

Atoms for Peace (band)

Atoms for Peace are an English-American supergroup comprising Radiohead singer Thom Yorke (vocals, guitar, piano), Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich (keyboards, synthesisers, guitars), drummer Joey Waronker of Beck and R.E.M., and percussionist Mauro Refosco of Forro in the Dark. Yorke formed the band in 2009 to perform songs from his debut solo album, The Eraser (2006). They released an album, Amok, in February 2013.

Atoms for Peace Award

The Atoms for Peace Award was established in 1955 through a grant of $1,000,000 by the Ford Motor Company Fund. An independent nonprofit corporation was set up to administer the award for the development or application of peaceful nuclear technology. It was created in response to U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace speech to the United Nations.

The 23 recipients were:

1957 - Niels Bohr

1958 - George C. de Hevesy

1959 - Leó Szilárd and Eugene Paul Wigner

1960 - Alvin M. Weinberg and Walter Henry Zinn

1961 - Sir John Cockcroft

1963 - Edwin M. McMillan and Vladimir I. Veksler

1967 - Isidor I. Rabi, W. Bennett Lewis and Bertrand Goldschmidt

1968 - Sigvard Eklund, Abdus Salam, and Henry DeWolf Smyth

1969 - Aage Bohr, Ben R. Mottelson, Floyd L. Culler, Jr., Henry S. Kaplan, Anthony L. Turkevich, M. S. Ioffe and Compton A. Rennie

1969 - Dwight D. Eisenhower

Ben Roy Mottelson

Ben Roy Mottelson (born July 9, 1926) is an American-born Danish nuclear physicist. He won the 1975 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on the non-spherical geometry of atomic nuclei.

Default (Atoms for Peace song)

"Default" is a 2012 single by the English supergroup Atoms for Peace. It was released as a digital download on 10 September 2012 and on 12" vinyl on 4 December 2012. This was the first non-remixed track released by the band and featured on their debut album, Amok.

Edwin McMillan

Edwin Mattison McMillan (September 18, 1907 – September 7, 1991) was an American physicist and Nobel laureate credited with being the first-ever to produce a transuranium element, neptunium. For this, he shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Glenn Seaborg in 1951.

A graduate of California Institute of Technology, he earned his doctorate from Princeton University in 1933, and joined the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory, where he discovered oxygen-15 and beryllium-10. During World War II, he worked on microwave radar at the MIT Radiation Laboratory, and on sonar at the Navy Radio and Sound Laboratory. In 1942 he joined the Manhattan Project, the wartime effort to create atomic bombs, and helped establish the project's Los Alamos Laboratory where the bombs were designed. He led teams working on the gun-type nuclear weapon design, and also participated in the development of the implosion-type nuclear weapon.

McMillan co-invented the synchrotron with Vladimir Veksler. He returned to the Radiation Laboratory after the war, and built them. In 1954 he was appointed associate director of the Radiation Laboratory, being promoted to deputy director in 1958. On the death of Lawrence that year, he became director, and he stayed in that position until his retirement in 1973.

Flea (musician)

Michael Peter Balzary (born 16 October 1962) known professionally as Flea, is an Australian-American musician, singer and actor. He is best known as the bassist and a founding member of the rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers. Flea is widely considered among the best bassists of all time.

Flea briefly appeared as the bassist for such bands as What Is This?, Fear, and Jane's Addiction. He has performed with rock supergroups Atoms for Peace, Antemasque, Pigface, and Rocket Juice & the Moon, and collaborated with The Mars Volta, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Alanis Morissette, and Young MC. Flea also performed live with Nirvana in 1993 playing the trumpet.

Flea incorporates elements of funk (including slap bass), psychedelic, punk, and hard rock. In 2009, Rolling Stone readers ranked Flea the second best bassist of all time, behind only John Entwistle. In 2012, he and the other members of Red Hot Chili Peppers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.Since 1984, Flea has acted in over 20 films and television series such as Suburbia, Back to the Future Part II and Part III, My Own Private Idaho, The Chase, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Dudes, Son in Law, The Big Lebowski, Low Down, Baby Driver and Boy Erased, in addition to voicing the character Donnie Thornberry in The Wild Thornberrys animated television series and films.

Flea is also the co-founder of Silverlake Conservatory of Music, a non-profit music education organization founded in 2001 for underprivileged children. In 2019 Flea will release his memoir Acid for the Children which will detail his life prior to the formation of Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Henry DeWolf Smyth

Henry DeWolf "Harry" Smyth (; May 1, 1898 – September 11, 1986) was an American physicist, diplomat, and bureaucrat. He played a number of key roles in the early development of nuclear energy, as a participant in the Manhattan Project, a member of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), and U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Educated at Princeton University and the University of Cambridge, he was a faculty member in Princeton's Department of Physics from 1924 to 1966. He chaired the department from 1935 to 1949. His early research was on the ionization of gases, but his interests shifted toward nuclear physics beginning in the mid-1930s.

During World War II he was a member of the National Defense Research Committee's Uranium Committee and a consultant on the Manhattan Project. He wrote the Manhattan Project's first public official history, which came to be known as the Smyth Report.

On the AEC from 1949 to 1954, Smyth argued unsuccessfully against a crash course to develop the hydrogen bomb and in favor of international control of nuclear weapons. He was the sole member of the commission to vote against stripping J. Robert Oppenheimer's security clearance. As IAEA ambassador from 1961 to 1970 he played an important role in the realization of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

He received the Atoms for Peace Award in 1968 and the U.S. State Department's Distinguished Honor Award in 1970. The American Nuclear Society's award for "nuclear statesmanship", of which he was the first recipient, is named in his honor.

International Atomic Energy Agency

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is an international organization that seeks to promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and to inhibit its use for any military purpose, including nuclear weapons. The IAEA was established as an autonomous organisation on 29 July 1957. Though established independently of the United Nations through its own international treaty, the IAEA Statute, the IAEA reports to both the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council.

The IAEA has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. The IAEA has two "Regional Safeguards Offices" which are located in Toronto, Canada, and in Tokyo, Japan. The IAEA also has two liaison offices which are located in New York City, United States, and in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition, the IAEA has laboratories and research centers located in Seibersdorf, Austria, in Monaco and in Trieste, Italy. The IAEA serves as an intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical co-operation in the peaceful use of nuclear technology and nuclear power worldwide. The programs of the IAEA encourage the development of the peaceful applications of nuclear energy, science and technology, provide international safeguards against misuse of nuclear technology and nuclear materials, and promote nuclear safety (including radiation protection) and nuclear security standards and their implementation.

The IAEA and its former Director General, Mohamed ElBaradei, were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on 7 October 2005. The IAEA's current Director General is Yukiya Amano.

Joey Waronker

Jon Joseph "Joey" Waronker (born May 20, 1969) is an American drummer and music producer. He is best known as a regular session musician of both Beck and R.E.M., and as member of the experimental rock bands Atoms for Peace and Ultraísta.

Judge, Jury and Executioner

"Judge, Jury and Executioner" is a 2013 single by the rock band Atoms for Peace, a supergroup formed by Radiohead singer Thom Yorke. It is the third single from their debut album, Amok. It was released on iTunes on January 7, 2013 and on 12" vinyl on March 19.

Mauro Refosco

Mauro Refosco is a Brazilian percussionist. He is best known as the former recording and touring percussionist for the American rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers.

NGC 7252

NGC 7252 is a peculiar galaxy resulting from an interaction between two galaxies that started a billion years ago. It is located 220 million light years away in the constellation Aquarius. It is also called Atoms for Peace Galaxy, a nickname which comes from its loop-like structure, made of stars, that resembles a diagram of an electron orbiting an atomic nucleus.

Nigel Godrich

Nigel Timothy Godrich (born 28 February 1971) is an English record producer, recording engineer and musician. He is known for his work with the English rock band Radiohead, having produced all their studio albums since OK Computer (1997) and most of singer Thom Yorke's solo work. He is a member of Atoms for Peace (with Yorke) and Ultraísta. Other acts Godrich has worked with include Beck, Paul McCartney, U2, R.E.M., Pavement and Roger Waters. He is the creator of the music webseries From the Basement.

Office of Atoms for Peace

The Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) of Thailand (สำนักงานปรมาณูเพื่อสันติ) in Chatuchak district, Bangkok, Thailand, was established in 1961 as the Office of Atomic Energy for Peace. The OAP serves as the main authority for nuclear research in Thailand. The OAP employs approximately 400 people. The research topics and services provided at the OAP include radioisotope production, gamma radiography, neutron activation analysis, neutron radiography, and gemstone irradiation.

The OAP operated a 2-megawatt nuclear research reactor, Thai Research Reactor 1/Modification 1 (TRR-1/M1). The TRR-1/M1 is of the type TRIGA Mark III, built by General Atomics, and began operation in 1962 after being commissioned in 1961 as a 1MW reactor. The TRR-1/M1 underwent its modification during 1975-1977, at which point it began operation as a 2MW reactor. TRR-1/M1 is the only nuclear reactor in Thailand.

In 2006, OAP was divided into two separate entities: the original OAP, which will oversee nuclear and radiation regulations nationally, and the new Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT), which will conduct peaceful nuclear research and offer services to the public.

Stanley Donwood

Stanley Donwood (born 29 October 1968) is the pen name of English artist and writer Dan Rickwood. Since 1994, he has created all the artwork for the rock band Radiohead, with singer Thom Yorke. He also creates artwork for Yorke's solo albums and Yorke's band Atoms for Peace.


TRIGA (Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics) is a class of nuclear research reactor designed and manufactured by General Atomics. The design team for TRIGA, which included Edward Teller, was led by the physicist Freeman Dyson.

Thom Yorke

Thomas Edward Yorke (born 7 October 1968) is an English musician best known as the lead singer and main songwriter of the alternative rock band Radiohead. A multi-instrumentalist, he mainly plays the guitar and piano. He is known for falsetto; in 2008, Rolling Stone ranked him the 66th greatest singer of all time.

Yorke was born in Northamptonshire. His family lived in Scotland before settling in Oxfordshire, England, where he formed Radiohead with his schoolmates. After he graduated from the University of Exeter, Radiohead signed to Parlophone; their early hit "Creep" made Yorke a celebrity, and Radiohead have gone on to achieve critical acclaim and sales of over 30 million albums. Their fourth album, Kid A (2000), saw Yorke and the band move into electronic music, often manipulating his vocals.

In 2006, Yorke released his debut solo album, The Eraser, comprising mainly electronic music. In 2009, to perform The Eraser live, he formed a new band, Atoms for Peace, with musicians including Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich; they released an album, Amok, in 2013. In 2014, Yorke released his second solo album, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes. He has collaborated with artists including PJ Harvey, Björk, Flying Lotus, and Modeselektor, and has composed for film and theatre; his first feature film soundtrack, Suspiria, was released in October 2018. With artist Stanley Donwood, Yorke creates artwork for Radiohead albums.

Yorke has been critical of the music industry, particularly of major labels and streaming services such as Spotify. With Radiohead and his solo work he has pioneered alternative music release platforms such as pay-what-you-want and BitTorrent. He is an activist on behalf of human rights, animal rights, environmental and anti-war causes, and his lyrics often incorporate political themes.

World Nuclear Association

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) is the international organization that promotes nuclear power and supports the companies that comprise the global nuclear industry. Its members come from all parts of the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium mining, uranium conversion, uranium enrichment, nuclear fuel fabrication, plant manufacture, transport, and the disposition of used nuclear fuel as well as electricity generation itself.Together, WNA members are responsible for 70% of the world's nuclear power as well as the vast majority of world uranium, conversion and enrichment production.The WNA says it aims to fulfill a dual role for its members: Facilitating their interaction on technical, commercial and policy matters and promoting wider public understanding of nuclear technology. It has a secretariat of around 35 staff.

The WNA was founded in 2001 on the basis of the Uranium Institute, itself founded in 1975.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.