Atoms for Peace and the IAEA

Atoms for Peace stamp.

In December of 1953, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered a historical speech to the United Nations General Assembly entitled “Atoms for Peace”.  In this address President Eisenhower pledged the United States’ commitment to taking responsibility for its past, present, and future nuclear actions.  Responding largely to its wartime decision eight years earlier to utilize nuclear warfare in the bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Eisenhower vowed that his country’s focus and dedication would shift to finding inventive ways to use the great potential of atomic energy for peaceful and constructive means. Through his speech, viewed by many as marking the turning point for an international focus on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Eisenhower encouraged fellow leaders from other nations to join in the quest to change the course of atomic history.

In his address to the United Nations, President Eisenhower envisioned the creation of an international body whose responsibility it would be to promote and control the peaceful use of atomic energy and to inhibit its use for military purposes. Four years later in July, 1957 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was formed to undertake these tasks.  Based in Vienna, Austria, the IAEA has mandates to ensure the safe and sustainable development of nuclear science and technology in the fields of energy, environment, health, and agriculture.

Since its inception in 1957, the Canadian Government and Canadian industry have actively supported and participated in the IAEA’s programs and initiatives.  For example, Canada has been a strong proponent of the Agency’s Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and has contributed considerable funding to the Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction.  As a World leader in the research, development and application of nuclear technologies in the medical and power generation fields, Canada has embraced the IAEA’s vision of harnessing the potential of atomic energy for the benefit of humanity.

Dwight D. Eisenhower – Atoms for Peace
Delivered 8 December 1953, United Nations General Assembly.

Click here for a PDF transcript.


Excerpted from Roehrlich, Elisabeth.Department of Contemporary History, University of Vienna,