Sharing and Control?

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Day 2 of the IP included three talks which focused on the early postwar history. During the 50s and 60s the necessity to control nuclear power became a centre of discussion among politicians around the globe. Moreover, in his speech “Atoms for Peace” in 1953, President Eisenhower emphasized the idea of a distinction between the military and civilian use of atomic energy. The risks seemed to be ignorable by the mean of controlled sharing. Therefore, some controlling organizations had to be founded. Eisenhower’s speech indeed directly inspired the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Dr. Elisabeth Röhrlich (University of Vienna) explained in her talk that the idea of creating such an organization was really welcomed around the world, and four years after Eisenhower’s speech, the IAEA was founded. But during these four years a lot of negotiations took place. The first partners in the negotiations were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and Canada. But four countries was not enough to create an international organization. So France, which at that time was developing a nuclear program, was included into the negotiations as well as South Africa, Belgium, Portugal (both because of their colonies) and Australia, all of them producers of Uranium. Brazil, India and Czechoslovakia then also entered the club of the negotiators.  All these countries finally agreed on a statute for the agency on July 29th 1957.

In 1957, the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) was established in order to create a nuclear-energy industry on a rather European than national level. Magdalena Reitbauer (University of Vienna) showed that it also aimed at coordinating the member states’ research programs for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, encouraging the construction of nuclear-power installations, establishing a common market for trade nuclear equipment and materials. The founding countries of EURATOM were the Benelux countries, France, West Germany and Italy. The treaty could also be defined as a union of sovereign states based on an international treaty with its own autonomously acting institutions. A lot of emphasis was laid on the treaty concerning the scale of research necessary for nuclear advance. Soon after the establishment of the treaty, its founding members signed an agreement with the US. Eisenhower strongly believed that this could serve as the cornerstone for the United States of Europe.

In the next decade (the 1960s) another country entered the club of nuclear powers: the People’s Republic of China. Dr. Leopoldo Nuti (University Roma Tre) argued that its success signed the failure of the idea of controlled sharing of atomic energy. Thus, the superpowers decided to freeze the situation for the moment to avoid the spread of nuclear weapons. During the negotiations, both superpowers had to face several challenges, e.g. the Vietnam War or the German question. Their conclusion was: ignoring the positions of their Allies and come to an agreement, called the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT, 1968).

That period could be better understood through the songs by the famous American satirist Tom Lehrer…..’people began to feel like a Christian-scientists with appendicitis’…

Working Group C – Benoît, Francesco, Gábor, Ivana


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