60 Years of the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy – Anniversary of the first Geneva Conference

Berlin, 07.08.2015

The German Atomic Forum is commemorating the 60th anniversary of the first Geneva Conference (International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy) which took place from 8 to 20 August 1955 under the leadership of the United Nations (UN).

The conference was dedicated entirely to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Under this overall concept, participants discussed a wide range of topics, including reactor research and technology, health and safety aspects and the global requirements for the energy supply, and the contribution that nuclear energy can make towards it. Not only did the 38 governments submit over 1,000 papers for the first nuclear conference; with more than 1,400 participants it was also one of the UN's largest events at the time.

The conference had considerable consequences in Germany, where prospects for nuclear research only emerged after the declaration on renunciation of nuclear weapons in the Paris Agreements of 1954 and integration with the West. Given the technical and scientific backlog in nuclear technology, science and politics were strongly motivated to catch up and to use the technology peacefully also in Germany. The result was the beginning of an impressive industrial success story for nuclear technology in Germany. 5,000 TWh of electricity, which is available for base load around the clock, had been generated from nuclear energy by October 2014. It also constitutes a substantial contribution to climate protection: Considering the German production structure from 1961 to the present, this has prevented the emission of around five billion tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

The nuclear conference in 1955 was also a response to the "Atoms for Peace" speech given by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in front of the UN in 1953 in which he explained his ideas and plans for the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The main focus was on the goal of making nuclear energy available in the fields of agriculture, medicine and electricity production. For this purpose, President Eisenhower proposed the creation of joint cooperation structures under the umbrella of an international atomic energy agency. In 1954, the UN General Assembly adopted a decision which provided for the establishment of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the implementation of an international technical conference, the first Geneva Conference.

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