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Atoms for Peace


Russia has put the United States on the spot by quietly ratifying the statute for the International Aomic Energy Agency. By proposing an agency to facilitate peaceful use of atomic energy in 1953, President Eisenhower gave the United States a lead in the propaganda peace race which now may pass into the hands of the Kremlin. For the Senate might not accept the statute embodying Eisenhower's proposal. If the agency is created without American participation, Russia will have a concrete claim to the eminence in sharing in the peaceful uses of atomic energy. Even if the proposal fails altogether, other countries may begin to look to Russia for nuclear aid, the United States having forsaken its generous stand.

The Eisenhower administration must bear much of the blame for this embarrassing situation. For, while most of the Senate opposition stems from isolationist elements, there are several problems which the President could have anticipated sooner. By clarifying the issue of control of nuclear secrets and material contributed to the agency, Eisenhower perhaps could have exposed isolationist arguments for what they are and maintained the support of others who simply want assurance that American fissionable material will not go into an enemy's stock-pile.

Initially the agency would only serve as a sort of information center where members could benefit from the study of each others' advances in the peaceful uses of atomic energy--medicine, power, and transportation. The United States would still have security control over whatever knowledge it divulged. The nuclear material "bank" would come into existence later and the United States would meanwhile be free to refuse assistance if control and inspection measures are not to its liking. On the other hand successful measures to assure peaceful 'use might lead to greater international cooperation to limit military use of the atom.

Unfortunately it appears that Eisenhower and the State Department did not really expect the Communists to accept the plan. For, while the administration submitted the statute in March, Eisenhower only conferred with hesitant Foreign. Affairsmen Knowland and Hickenlooper last week, after Russian ratification had been announced. The problem now is to muster a two-thirds vote in time to send delegates to the first general conference. The administration's lack of foresight, compounded with an outdated distrust of foreign committments in certain quarters of the Senate, may have assigned the International Atomic Energy Agency to the fate of the League of Nations.

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