(Lake Success 1949 - John Foster Dulles and Andrei Gromyko - between them, an iceberg)
With the upcoming General Assembly meetings at the UN, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back sixty years, before the United Nations headquarters was built and meetings were held in New York at Lake Success. In 1949 it was about forming the Atomic Energy Commission and the subject was inspections. The USSR had only announced a few weeks earlier that it had tested its first Atomic Bomb, adding one more name to the club that has grown increasingly ever since.
But in 1949 the UN was still grappling with the ground rules - where was this new potentially devastating power heading - and who else was going to get it?
During the weekly radio program Memo From Lake Success, co-produced by CBS, the CBC and United Nations Radio, the subject of regulating nuclear energy high on the list.
Future Canadian Prime Minister Lester Pearson is interviewed, explaining his take on the situation.
Interviewer: “Mister Pearson, the West maintains that atomic energy can be controlled internationally only by this proposed agency which will manage and operate the Atomic Industry. Would it be possible to set up, by treaty beforehand, a system of quotas, allocations of atomic plants and nuclear fuels. And then a system of continuous rigid inspection be set up for the international agency, which might be effective and perhaps necessitate a little less of the insistence on ownership and operation?"
Lester Pearson (Canadian Foreign Secretary): “ Well, of course naturally that point had occurred to people, but you must remember that the representatives of the majority in this commission, have gone through this matter very, very carefully. And they have come to the conclusion that the only safe way is to have international operations and control. But if it were possible to give more power of operations to nations, and take away some power from the international agency, then that would make it all that more important that you had complete international power of inspection at any time without any reservation of qualification. And that means a really . . well . . .quite important interference in what our Russian friends call National Sovereignty. And they have given no indication whatever at any time that they are willing to accept that kind of international supervision or inspection. And that seems to me to be the fundamental difference between the two positions now. We are willing to go very far in the direction of international inspection and supervision. They are certainly not willing to go so far."
The climate has changed considerably since 1949. There is no more Soviet Union for one thing - only now there's North Korea and Iran.
Two more members of the ever-expanding club.