In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave a speech called "Atoms for Peace" before the United Nations General Assembly. The events leading up to the speech included the testing of an atomic bomb in England and the United States testing of a hydrogen bomb, both events in 1952.President Eisenhower's speech called for "the governments principally involved" (naming the USA and Soviet Union) to make joint contributions from their stockpiles of normal uranium and fissionable materials to an international atomic energy agency set up under the UN. Part of that speech is included here:
"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?" (Eisenhower, 1953)
Among the agency's responsibilities would be to store and safeguard the material and to "devise methods" whereby it would be allocated to serve the "peaceful pursuits of mankind."
The first step in this direction was in 1954, when America amended its Atomic Energy Act to permit peaceful international nuclear cooperation, leading to bilateral agreements with a number of States. Almost simultaneously, in the USSR, the world's first nuclear power plant was commissioned at Obninsk. During most of 1955, representatives from Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Portugal, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the USA met in Washington, DC to draft the organizational Statutes of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (Dean & Forsberg, 1995, 74)....