Dis­ar­ma­ment the break­fast of real cham­pi­ons

Rat­ify the test-ban treaty, fo­cus on non-weapons nu­clear work

Albuquerque Journal - - OP-ED - BY WIL­LIAM LAMBERS AU­THOR Wil­liam Lambers is the au­thor of “Nu­clear Weapons, the Road to Peace and End­ing World Hunger.” His writ­ings have been pub­lished by the New York Times, the His­tory News Net­work, The Hill, Newsweek and many other news out­lets.

The long­est jour­ney be­gins with a sin­gle step. One of the first steps to­ward elim­i­nat­ing nu­clear weapons was 65 years ago on Dec. 8 when Pres­i­dent Dwight Eisen­hower gave his “Atoms for Peace” speech.

This his­tory can in­spire us to­day for get­ting rid of all nukes world­wide.

But first have some break­fast. That is what Ike’s as­sis­tant, C.D. Jack­son, and Atomic En­ergy Com­mis­sion di­rec­tor Lewis Strauss did when writ­ing “Atoms for Peace.”

Eisen­hower said in his mem­oirs “to work on the draft of the speech on this sub­ject, Strauss and Jack­son met again and again at the Metropoli­tan Club in Wash­ing­ton for break­fast, ap­pro­pri­ately, the pro­ject took on the code name Wheaties.”

Ad­mi­ral Strauss wrote of the break­fast club, “Our stand­ing or­der started with a ce­real ad­ver­tised as Wheaties. We be­gan to re­fer to the en­ter­prise as “Wheaties” when nec­es­sary to talk about it on the tele­phone or else­where.” It is the break­fast of cham­pi­ons and nu­clear dis­ar­ma­ment.

Their goal was to alert the Amer­i­can pub­lic about the grow­ing threat of nu­clear weapons. The Soviet Union had re­cently tested a hy­dro­gen bomb and the Cold War nu­clear arms race was ac­cel­er­at­ing rapidly. The nukes were vastly more pow­er­ful than the weapons of World War II com­bined.

The tech­nol­ogy to make nu­clear weapons was no longer a se­cret just for the United States. The Sovi­ets had long had it, and many oth­ers were likely to as well.

Eisen­hower wanted the speech to pro­vide hope for es­cap­ing this nu­clear night­mare. He made last-minute edits on the plane ride to New York where he would de­liver the speech be­fore the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly. There were two ma­jor pro­pos­als made by Eisen­hower in “Atoms for Peace.”

The first plan was for the Cold War ri­vals to di­vert nu­clear tech­nol­ogy away from mil­i­tary use. In­stead, atomic en­ergy should be used for peace­ful pur­poses like fight­ing dis­ease and hunger or pro­vid­ing en­ergy.

As Eisen­hower said in his speech, “The United States would seek more than the mere re­duc­tion or elim­i­na­tion of atomic ma­te­ri­als for mil­i­tary pur­poses. It is not enough to take this weapon out of the hands of the soldiers. It must be put into the hands of those who will know how to strip its mil­i­tary cas­ing and adapt it to the arts of peace. … if the fear­ful trend of atomic mil­i­tary build-up can be re­versed, this great­est of de­struc­tive forces can be de­vel­oped into a great boon, for the ben­e­fit of all mankind.”

Jack­son pointed out that the press to­tally over­looked the sec­ond ma­jor pro­posal Eisen­hower had made in the speech. The pres­i­dent in­vited the Sovi­ets and oth­ers for ne­go­ti­a­tions “to seek an ac­cept­able so­lu­tion to the atomic ar­ma­ments race.” Arms control and dis­ar­ma­ment would not hap­pen overnight, but we must pur­sue it through diplo­macy.

Atoms for Peace led to the cre­ation of the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency (IAEA) in 1957. As the agency’s cur­rent di­rec­tor Yukiya Amano ex­plains, “We work to pre­vent the spread of nu­clear weapons, and we help coun­tries use nu­clear sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy to pro­duce more food, gen­er­ate more elec­tric­ity, treat cancer and re­spond to cli­mate change.”

These are the crit­i­cal is­sues that bind all nations. But as we sit here to­day there are still 15,000 nu­clear weapons glob­ally, most of them held by the United States and Rus­sia. Think of all the pre­cious re­sources lost in mak­ing these nukes that would have been bet­ter served in peace­ful ap­pli­ca­tions.

As Eisen­hower said, we need diplo­macy “if the world is to shake off the in­er­tia im­posed by fear and is to make pos­i­tive progress to­wards peace.” The United States could start by fi­nally rat­i­fy­ing the Com­pre­hen­sive Nu­clear Test Ban Treaty, a goal first pur­sued by Eisen­hower. We should pro­mote dis­ar­ma­ment and more peace­ful uses of nu­clear tech­nol­ogy.

Ev­ery per­son can make their voice heard on elim­i­nat­ing nu­clear weapons. Break­fast any­one?

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