1945-54: Early efforts to restrain nuclear testing

Page 3: 1945-54
Early efforts to restrain nuclear testing

1954: Atoms for Peace

Alarmed at the prospect of nuclear technology proliferating around the world and the number of States with atomic bomb making capabilities increasing beyond US control, President Eisenhower proposed the Atoms for Peace programme in 1953. The US Atomic Energy Act, which prohibited the transfer of nuclear technology to other countries, regardless of where their alliances lay, was revised in 1954 to allow US exports of nuclear technology and material provided the recipient country agreed not to use the technology for military purposes. This programme not only supplied foreign countries with nuclear technology and material, but also facilitated construction projects and provided recipient countries with nuclear training.

The United Kingdom became the world's third Nuclear
Weapons State when it conducted its first nuclear test
on 3 October 1952.

The Lucky Dragon and the Disarmament Commission

International concern over nuclear testing intensified in the 1950s. The United Nations sought to address these issues in the Disarmament Commission that had been established in 1952. Established within this commission, the Sub-Committee of Five included Canada, France, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States. However, this did not stop the United Kingdom from becoming the third Nuclear Weapon State when it conducted its first nuclear test on 3 October 1952.

Neither did it stop the United States and the Soviet Union from conducting tests of large-yield thermonuclear devices. Debris from a US test near the Marshall Islands in March 1954 in the Pacific Ocean exposed the crew of a Japanese fishing vessel, the Lucky Dragon. The thermonuclear device had produced a yield significantly higher than was expected and resulted in increased scrutiny of the effects of nuclear fallout.

India's Prime Minister Nehru was the first Head of State
to call for a "standstill agreement" to halt nuclear
testing in 1954.

1954: Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru

Concerned over the threat posed by the escalation of nuclear testing around the world and the increasing yields of these tests, the Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru advocated a “standstill agreement” on nuclear testing on April 2, 1954. This was the first initiative calling for a halt to nuclear testing while the United Nations worked towards a comprehensive disarmament agreement.


Next chapter:
1955-62: From peace movement to missile crisis