The Uncontrollable Atom
From the day in June, 1946, when Mr. Gromyko told the United Nations Atomic Commission that its decisions must be subject to the agreement of the. Security Council, and therefore to the Russian veto, the hope of willing Soviet co-operation in the development and control of atomic energy was as good as dead. Since then twenty-one months have been wasted in the discussion of the so- called Russian proposals for international control, and at last, on Easter Monday, a member of the United Kingdom delegation to the Atomic Energy Commission at Lake Success pointed out in so many words that those proposals neither conform with technical know- ledge of the problem of atomic energy nor provide a basis for its international control. To this Mr. Gromyko, still there and still playing for time, gave no reply, but contented himself with the usual abusive speech against the Western Powers. This is no subject either for silence or for further procrastination. The best practical statement of what is necessary for the international control of atomic energy was published almost exactly two years ago by the U.S. State Department in the Lilienthal Report. Its central idea was that of positive control of atomic research at its most advanced point, through the true international co-operation, not subject to any veto, of all countries with any contribution to make. This remains the only proposal measuring up to the •possibilities and dangers of the situation, and time has done nothing to shake it. But what is left for the rest of the world to do ? Professor Oliphant said last week (and he was not the first to say it) that the- Russians Might make a bomb in five years, but that even then they would have enormous difficulty in catching up with the destructive power of the United States. That being so there is an outside chance that the Russians may be shown, by precept and by practice, that it is not worth their while to try to catch up.