NEW YORK CITY – President Dwight D. Eisenhower made his Atoms for Peace speech December 8, 1953 on a Tuesday afternoon in front of the United Nations General Assembly. His speech foreshadowed what the future held as the world became more militarily advanced. He stated that American armed services had accomplished conventional use of atomic weapons. He then warned that the United States was no longer the only country with atomic capabilities. Allies and enemies also had atomic weapons.
Eisenhower revealed that countries would share information with one another to further their advancement of atomic weapons. He also made clear that the possession of the most weapons and the subsequent destructive retaliation were not enough to avoid the material devastation and loss of human life from a surprise attack. Eisenhower cautioned that no amount of weapons could keep a country completely safe. He further explained that even the most powerful defense system was not immune to a surprise attack from a small quantity of atomic bombs. Serious damage would be done regardless.
The ‘Atoms for Peace’ speech detailed what atomic bombs meant for humanity. Eisenhower asserted that there was no victory in the loss of mankind. He detailed that atomic attacks had the potential to destroy civilizations and annihilate the heritage of mankind. Atomic bombs could obliterate the irreplaceable. Eisenhower called for a quest for peace and the capacity to build. He voiced that it was best to be constructive and make agreements rather than be destructive and have wars. ‘Atoms for Peace’ expresses that peace is achieved through dialogue and cooperation rather than war and destruction.
Military weapons have advanced far greater since Eisenhower gave his speech. Many countries now possess nuclear weapons while others are in the process of developing them. What ‘Atoms for Peace’ means in today’s nuclear world is that the possession of nuclear weapons may make tension between countries worse. Nuclear weapons may be viewed as a deterrent, but they can lead to a security dilemma. If one country advances its nuclear weapons, so will the others.
A country will increase its defense if it feels under threat. Consequently, other countries will increase their defense in response to what is perceived as an offensive. The mutual feeling of insecurity heightens tension between countries and defense continues to be augmented, which causes a security dilemma. This has been seen in the Middle East as tension mounts between Israel and Iran. Israel has boosted its defense in response to Iran continuing its nuclear development despite sanctions.
Israel has successfully run a test for its new missile interceptor, David’s Sling. The threat of an Iranian nuclear bomb and the strength it could provide Syria and Hezbollah drives Israel to increase its defensive capabilities. Israel has focused on developing its defensive system to shoot down ballistic missiles. The defensive advancements of Israel and Iran have made one another feel more insecure, which only exacerbates the problem. Neighboring countries may suffer collateral damage or get involved if Israel and Iran do attack each other.
What ‘Atoms for Peace’ means in today’s nuclear world is world politics must be handled diplomatically. It calls for a transition from aggressive rhetoric and bellicosity to peace talks and treaties. Whether a country has the maximum of nuclear weapons or the minimum, both countries will experience destruction. ‘Atoms for Peace’ teaches that such outcomes are undesirable and benefit no country. Nuclear energy requires great responsibility and restraint. ‘Atoms for Peace’ challenges countries to use it for peaceful purposes only.
– Brittany Mannings