Investments for peace

December 8, 2023, 7:01AMNuclear NewsKathryn Huff

Kathryn Huff

President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered his “Atoms for Peace” speech to the United Nations General Assembly in December 1953. In this historic address, he invoked the existential threat of nuclear weapons proliferation and the potential horror of nuclear war to muster the diplomatic energy of the United Nations toward establishing peaceful uses for the atom. The speech launched domestic and international initiatives, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, that would underpin decades of robust, peaceful nuclear power commercialization and expansion.

This month, as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of that speech, we celebrate Eisenhower’s prescience in suggesting that “experts would be mobilized to apply atomic energy to the needs of agriculture, medicine, and other peaceful activities” and “to provide abundant electrical energy in the power-starved areas of the world.” Mobilizing American experts, of course, would mean refocusing the work of the national laboratories toward peaceful uses of the atom and repurposing the vast weapons complex investments of the 1940s toward more peaceful ends.

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