Atomic Bomb Declaration by President Truman, Prime Minister Attlee, and King
Washington, November 15, 1945
The President of the United States, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Prime Minister of Canada issued the following:
- We recognize that the application of recent scientific discoveries to the methods and practice of war has placed at the disposal of humanity means of destruction hitherto unknown, against which there can be no adequate military defense and in the employment of which no single nation can have a monopoly.
- We desire to emphasize that the responsibility for devising means to ensure that the discoveries shall be used for the benefit of humanity instead of as a means of destruction rests not on our nations alone but upon the whole civilized world. Nevertheless, the progress that we have made in the development and use of atomic energy demands that we take the initiative in the matter, and we have accordingly met together to consider the possibility of international action:
- To prevent the use of atomic energy for destructive purposes.
- To promote recent and future advances in scientific knowledge, particularly in utilizing atomic energy, for peaceful and humanitarian ends.
- We know that preventing war is the only complete protection for the civilized world from the destructive use of scientific knowledge. No system of safeguards that can be devised will provide a sufficient guarantee against the production of atomic weapons by a nation bent on aggression. Nor can we ignore the possibility of the development of other weapons or of new methods of warfare, which may constitute as significant a threat to civilization as the military use of atomic energy.
- Representing as we do, the three countries which possess the knowledge essential to the use of atomic energy, we declare at the outset our willingness, as a first contribution, to proceed with the exchange of basic scientific information and the interchange of scientists and scientific literature for peaceful ends with any nation that will fully reciprocate.
- We believe that the fruits of scientific research should be made available to all nations and that freedom of investigation and the free interchange of ideas is essential to the progress of knowledge. Pursuing this policy, the crucial scientific information necessary for developing atomic energy for peaceful purposes has already been made available to the world. We intend that all further details of this character that may become available occasionally shall be similarly treated. We trust that other nations will adopt the same policy, creating an atmosphere of confidence in which political agreement and cooperation will flourish.
- We have considered the disclosure of detailed information concerning the practical industrial application of atomic energy. The military exploitation of nuclear power depends, in large part, upon the same methods and processes as would be required for industrial uses. We are not convinced that spreading technical information regarding the practical application of atomic energy before it is possible to devise effective, reciprocal, and enforceable safeguards acceptable to all nations would contribute to a constructive solution to the problem of the atomic bomb. On the contrary, we think it might have the opposite effect. We are, however, prepared to share, on a reciprocal basis with others of the United Nations, detailed information concerning the practical industrial application of atomic energy just as soon as adequate, enforceable safeguards against its use for destructive purposes can be devised.
- To attain the most effective means of eliminating the use of atomic energy for destructive purposes and promoting its most extensive use for industrial and humanitarian purposes, we believe that at the earliest practicable date, a commission should be set up under the United Nations Organization to prepare recommendations for submission to the organization. The commission should be instructed to proceed with the utmost dispatch and authorized to submit requests from time to time dealing with separate phases of its work.
- In particular, the commission should make specific proposals:
- To extend between all nations the exchange of basic scientific information for peaceful ends,
- For control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes,
- For the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other primary weapons adaptable to mass destruction,
- For adequate safeguards through inspection and other means to protect complying states against the hazards of violations and evasions.
- The commission’s work should proceed in separate stages, the successful completion of each one of which will develop the necessary confidence of the world before the next step is undertaken. Specifically, it is considered that the commission might devote its attention first to the comprehensive exchange of scientists and scientific information and as a second stage to the development of full knowledge concerning natural resources of raw materials.
- Faced with the terrible realities of applying science to destruction, every nation will realize more urgently than before the overwhelming need to maintain the rule of law among nations and banish the scourge of war from the earth. This can only be brought about by giving wholehearted support to the United Nations Organization and by consolidating and extending its authority, thus creating conditions of mutual trust in which all peoples will be free to devote themselves to the arts of peace. It is our firm resolve to work without reservation to achieve these ends.
HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States
C. R. ATTLEE, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
W. L. MacKenzie KING, Prime Minister of Canada