reprinted with permission from
Poison Fire, Sacred Earth,


pages 282-283

The International Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO)

Workshop Report by Peter Weish

Peter Weish, Austria. Physicist, representative of Anti-Atom International.
(This speech was held originally in German)

           I'd like to introduce myself as the representative of Anti-Atom International; I come from Vienna and would like to report on our workshop concerning our demands related to the transformation of the IAEO. We know that it is difficult to bring about international changes, but it begins with ideas; it must begin in a small way.

           In 1957, IAEO was founded at a time ruled by a powerful euphoria, and people believed that after the shock of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the atomic industry could be put to peaceful use and serve toward the betterment of humankind. But of course, even then it was pure hypocrisy because the prominent radiation and genetic scientist Mahler was not permitted to speak at the conference in Geneva because it would have disturbed the business transactions had he spoken about the dangers. But at any rate, it is unbearable that this large United Nations Organization to this day includes promotion of the atomic industry in its charter, and that in the past it has even propagated the massive use of nuclear weapons for so-called peaceful purposes.

           Since we know, and have known for a very long time now, that the civilian and military atomic industries cannot be separated from each other -- Hannes Euphen, a Swedish Nobel Prize winner has described them as Siamese twins -- it is naturally absurd to try to promote one of the twins while trying to hold the other under control. And it actually happened that the IAEO, giving strong promotion, could not fulfill its control function. And in the meantime, the number of countries with nuclear capabilities has risen from five to 25, among them, 20 so-called threshold countries, since there is no way to separate civilian and military use. That is why we demand that support for the atomic industry be struck from the statutes of the IAEO and therewith depriving it of the opportunity to become a massive lobbying organization for the atomic industry; which is particularly disturbing for the countries of the former Eastern Block where the IAEO powerfully supports the local atomic lobbies in their efforts to expand the use of atomic energy.

           Therefore, the IAEO should concern itself exclusively with getting out of and controlling the atomic industry, which was supported by the previous work groups. This should be its only task for the future.

           An important proposal came from the workshop suggesting that we demand that state support also be given to NGOs in order to effectively support this control from the grass roots. This is especially important concerning all questions on what should happen to fissile materials and many other further relevant questions. We demand that the governments help environmental organizations, support them, so that they can at the very roots, in truly democratic fashion have an influence on the activities of this organization.

           Furthermore, environmental organizations should receive observer status at conferences and become equal participants, and also the results of the work of the NGOs should be made available to the public and not just to the governments which either misuse or make secret this information in the interests of its atomic industries.

           In the past, the IAEO -- and we have heard examples here -- has always only represented the interests of industry, the interests of government, the interests of the total atomic industry; and this cannot continue. And for this purpose, we want to build up a network which, as a part of this improvement, will carry these demands, which are essentially plausible, to the world; these demands should be represented by the many environmental NGOs and taken to governments, for the time is right for such a change.

           Even more, instead of such an atomic industry lobbying organization in the United Nations, it is high time to found an international solar energy agency that would support the possibilities, the technological possibilities of the use of solar energy, and carry them out into the world, especially to the so-called developing countries in order to give them the opportunity to generate the necessary energy in an environmentally sound way.

           Next week, we want to hold a press conference in Vienna on this subject parallel to and during the general conference of the IAEO, and there will also be rallies, and whoever wants to take part will be sincerely welcome.

           Thank you very much.

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