Courtesy Reuters

Risks of Nuclear Proliferation


FOR a decade, American foreign policy in the field of atomic energy has energetically supported the transfer of uranium, information, equipment and complete reactors to many countries abroad. Has this Atoms for Peace Program unwittingly contributed to the development of an atomic-weapon capability throughout the world and thereby encouraged nuclear proliferation? This basic question has been brought into focus by the Red Chinese nuclear explosions and by the realization that several countries now have the necessary knowledge, materials and technicians to make nuclear weapons if they want to.

Since 1946, American policy has been based on a recognition of the fact that atomic energy is capable of both peaceful and military uses and that certain of the processes used in its development are essentially the same regardless of the final application. Early in the postwar period, then, it became our avowed purpose to establish some international control of the development of atomic energy to assure its peaceful use and, in particular, to limit and perhaps ultimately eliminate any military use.

In its continuing effort to make the atom benign through international action, American policy has gone through two distinct phases in the past 20 years. The first phase was established and governed by the Atomic Energy Act of 1946, which placed an embargo on the export of nuclear information and materials. In the same year the United States brought before the United Nations the proposals formulated by Bernard Baruch for international control of atomic energy. The principal thesis behind these early U. S. proposals was that atomic energy was so dangerous in terms of its potential military applications that international "ownership" and "supervision" were required. For example, the Acheson-Lilienthal report, which served as an important basis for the Baruch proposals, included the following statement: "We have concluded unanimously that there is no prospect of security against atomic warfare in a system of international agreements to outlaw such weapons controlled only by a system which relies on inspection and similar

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