TIMELINES: A US report issued March 28, 1946, proposed what to the UN in the hopes of averting an arms race?

March 28, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2012


March 28, 1946, the U.S. State Department releases a plan for international control over atomic energy in a document called the Acheson-Lilienthal Report. The report is issued as a result of President Harry S. Truman’s objective of maintaining the U.S.’s position of superiority with respect to atomic weaponry. At the time, Truman is concerned about the potential of a dangerous and costly nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. The report proposes that control over atomic energy procedures, production, and materials be governed by an international body such as the United Nations. Despite the proposal, the United States and the Soviet Union fail to agree to terms regarding atomic energy and within three years, the two countries are engaged in an intense nuclear arms race that last more than four decades.


Today, the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the world’s center for cooperation regarding nuclear energy. The IAEA was established as the world’s Atoms for Peace organization in 1957. The agency coordinates with its member states in an effort to promote safe, secure, and peaceful nuclear technologies. It has not managed to maintain control over the world’s nuclear programs. This week, world leaders met for a nuclear security summit in South Korea. A big focus of the meeting of world leaders are the rogue states of North Korea and Iran suspected of developing nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian program. They have repeatedly failed to cooperate with the IAEA. President Barack Obama addressed the potential threat posed by nuclear materials in the wrong hands. “It would not take much, just a handful or so of these materials, to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people and that’s not an exaggeration, that’s the reality that we face.”