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The transfer of scientific and technical information has been a driving

force for development of atomic energy ever since 0. R. Frisch and L.

Meitner early in 1939 speculated that absorption of a neutron by a uranium

nucleus sometimes caused fission. The role of information exchang

became

immediately evident.

News of this speculation was brought to the United

States in January 1939 by Niels Bohr who at once communicated this idea to

his former student, J.A. Wheeler and others at Princeton. From them the

news spread by word of mouth to neighboring physicists, including E. Fermi at Columbia University. By January 26, 1939, the fission process was discussed at a conference on theoretical physics in Washington, D.C. Be

fore this meeting was over, experiments had confirmed that neutrons could

initiate fission and other confirmations were reported in the February 15,

1939, issue of Physical Review. From then on there was a steady flow of papers on fission. The scientific community itself soon attempted to stop publication of further data by voluntary agreement because of military im

plications but was not able to do so for about a year, * The voluntary control of 1940 was soon supplanted by government controls and restrictions as the wartime atom bomb project began to move. Information on military

* Professor Smyth in his famous report noted that in the spring of 1939 a small group of foreign-born physicists in the United States attempted to stop publication of further data on fission by voluntary agreement. Leading American and British physicists agreed, but F. Joliot, France's foremost nuclear physicist, refused, apparently because of the publication of one letter in the Physical Review sent in before all Americans had been brought into agreement. Consequently, publication continued freely for about another year although a few papers were withheld voluntarily by their authors. Cf., H. D. Smythe. Atomic energy for military purposes. Princeton; Princeton University Press, 1945, p. 45.

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and civil uses of nuclear energy was held secret, and Congress in the Atomic

Energy Act of 1946 continued this secrecy and the premise that certain in

formation was born classified and subject to strict control.

In the Atomic

Energy Act of 1946, Congress in an extraordinary grant of peacetime author

ity gave the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission control over the dissemi

nation of testricted data" in such a manner as to "assure the common defense and security."* "Restricted data" was defined to include information

relating to civil use of nuclear power. **

In the Act, Congress limited in

ternational exchange of information on industrial nuclear power, but en

couraged the dissemination of scientific and technical information relating to uses other than weapons and industrial power.

The policies of the United States for exchange of information and tech

nology for atomic energy is characterized by two distinct phases.

From

1946 to 1954 the national policy sought to confine and prevent the export of

U.S. nuclear information and technology. From 1954 to the present national

policy has emphasized the benefits of such transfers and has promoted them.

The era of restricted transfer: 1946-1954

After the rejection in the United Nations of the U.S. proposals for in

ternational control and development of atomic energy (the Acheson-Lilien

* Section 10(a) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. ** The 1946 Act defined "restricted data" to mean "...all data concerning the manufacture or utilization of atomic weapons, the production of fissionable material, or the use of fissionable material in the production of power, but shall not include any data which the Commission from time to time determines may be published without adversely affecting the common defense and security.

thal report and the Baruch Plan), the United States sought to bar the export

of U.S. technology for nuclear weapons and power. Beginning with the Atom

ic Energy Act in 1946, there followed almost a decade of secrecy and severe

limitations upon exports and international cooperation,

While the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 did contemplate sharing of infor

mation concerning the practical industrial applications of atomic energy with other countries, this was prohibited until "effective and enforceable safe

guards against its use for destructive purposes (could) be devised," This

statutory condition never was fulfilled and the restrictions of the Act ended

the wartime nuclear collaboration of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Belgium. The only cooperation permissible in 1946 was for

exploration for uranium ores and their procurement. Five years later Con

gress slightly relaxed the restrictions by authorizing the Atomic Energy

Commission to exchange certain information with other countries about the

"refining, purification and subsequent treatment of source materials, reactor development, production of fissionable material, and research and de

velopment."

In this amendment Congress laid down four limitations for

U. S. technical assistance in nuclear energy limitations that have become the foundation for negotiation and approval of agreements for cooperation.

These limitations were:

(1) a prohibition against communication of weapons design and fa

brication data;

* Public Law 82-235, 65 Stat. 692, 1951.

(2) a requirement for adequate security standards in countries re

ceiving classified information;

(3) a determination by the President that the arrangements would

promote and would not endanger the common defense and security;

and

(4) a requirement that the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy be informed of the arrangement 30 days prior to its consummation.

The era of open exchanges: 1954 to the present

By 1954 the impetus of the Atoms for Peace Program of President Eisen

hower and the failure of U.S. restrictions on international nuclear coopera

tion to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons abroad combined with techno

logical optimism for the future

of nuclear power to reverse U.S. policy

on exchange of nuclear information and cooperation.

International cooperation in nuclear energy. --When Congress rewrote the Atomic Energy Act in 1954, it greatly expanded the prospects for inter

national cooperation in civil nuclear energy. * The Act includes major pro

visions in section 54 for the United States to distribute special nuclear ma

terials.

Under the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, this distribution

function was assigned to the Energy Research and Development Agency. **

Section 54 limits such distribution to nations or groups of nations with an

agreement for cooperation with the United States. Also, with one exception,

the Energy Research and Development Administration is to be compensated

* The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, P.L. 83-703, 68 Stat. 919.

** The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, P.L. 93-438, 88 Stat. 1233.

for special nuclear materials distributed at not less than ERDA published

charges.

Also, ERDA is authorized to enter into contracts to provide for

the producing or enriching of special nuclear materials in its facilities for

exports to nations or organizations with an agreement for cooperation.*

Section 54 authorizes the Energy Research and Development Adminis

tration to distribute to the International Atomic Energy Agency, or to any

group of nations, only such amounts of special nuclear materials and for

such periods of time as are authorized by Congress.

Section 54 also provides for repurchase of special nuclear materials

distributed under a sale, and to purchase special nuclear materials produced through use of special nuclear materials which were sold or leased.

U.S. agreements for cooperation in atomic energy. --When Congress rewrote the Atomic Energy Act in 1954, it greatly expanded the prospects for

international cooperation in civil nuclear energy, but within specific statu

tory restriction. Section 123 of the Act provides approaches to international

cooperation by forbidding cooperation with any nation or regional defense

organization until four conditions are fulfilled.

These four conditions are:

(1) ERDA has submitted to the President the proposed agreement

for cooperation, together with its recommendations thereon;

(2) The President has approved and authorized the execution of

the proposed agreement and has made a determination in writing

that "the performance

he proposed agreement will promote and

* The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, Section 161(v)(B).

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