No, President Obama hasn’t changed American policy regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The above headline refers to an event nearly 60 years ago and how Iran’s development of nuclear power began. It actually did begin under the sponsorship of a U.S. president.
Shortly after taking office, President Dwight David Eisenhower presented a bold proposal to the United Nations about sharing nuclear power with the entire world. The year was 1953.
Along with many others, President Eisenhower was horrified by the destructive capacity of nuclear technology when applied to weapons. He promoted a program called “Atoms for Peace ” whereby the nuclear superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, would “start handing over their uranium and other bomb-making materials to the newly created International Atomic Energy Agency and freely share nuclear technology with those who would apply it to commercial power generation, agriculture and medicine.”
Eisenhower hoped to put the monster nuclear genie back into the bottle, having witnessed its phenomenal killing power in Japan and the subsequent nuclear arms race between the United States and the Soviet Union. It often seems military personnel who have witnessed the horrors of combat are much less willing to commit a nation to war than are their civilian counterparts. The 1950s was a decade of fear, as the world lived in the shadow of these two giants that possessed the capacity to destroy civilization many times over.
Clearly, the “Atoms for Peace” program failed to accomplish Eisenhower’s dream. Why didn’t it work? What lessons can we learn that would help us anticipate the present extremely tense situation of Iran’s nuclear intentions?
The first reason it failed is that neither the United States nor the Soviet Union gave up the capacity to wage nuclear war. Nor did they surrender their nuclear fuel to a UN committee for redistribution to the world. Why didn’t they? Clearly, neither nation trusted the willingness of the other to disarm. Underpinning their mutual distrust was a bitter competition between Western democracy’s capitalism and Soviet socialism.
Rather than entrust nuclear research and technologies to the UN, the United States and the Soviet Union began to share this knowledge directly with other nations on the condition that they would renounce nuclear weapons. “But what were supposed to be benevolent gestures turned into another form of competition, as the United States and the Soviets began rewarding their friends with what became an international status symbol—research reactors,” James Sterngold wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle .
Neither superpower watched very closely what their Atoms for Peace allies did with the reactors. “The programs became training grounds for weapons scientists who, in some instances, produced bomb-making materials” (ibid.).
The Iranian government of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was established in 1953 with the direct intervention of the CIA and the assistance of General Norman Schwarzkopf Sr. (the father of the American commander in the 1991 Gulf War). This became a typical Cold War action—a superpower establishing and supporting a government that would be favorable to its interests.
Subsequently, the shah received nuclear technology as part of the Atoms for Peace program. “Iran’s efforts to develop nuclear energy trace to 1957, in conjunction with a push from the Eisenhower administration to increase its military, economic, and civilian assistance to Iran” including an “agreement for cooperation in research in the peaceful uses of atomic energy” (Greg Bruno, Iran’s Nuclear Program , Council on Foreign Relations, Sept. 29, 2009).
In the 1970s, the French and the Germans also assisted the Iranians in their pursuit of constructing nuclear plants to supply nuclear fuel.
By the summer of 1974, American intelligence determined that the shah had ambitions to pursue nuclear weapons, probably goaded by India’s successful test of a nuclear weapon in the late spring of that year.
Consequently, the United States withdrew from its Atoms for Peace agreement with Iran.
The clear lesson is that it is not possible to put the “nuclear genie” back into the bottle. The simple fact is that nations that possess the technological know-how to create nuclear weapons will eventually do so. When humankind discovered how to weaponize the awesome power God locked into the atom, the world entered a chapter that it cannot close.
That is, unless God Himself intervenes to stop the inevitable. The good news is that He promises to do so just in time (Matthew 24:21-22 Matthew 24:21-22 21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
American King James Version×); the bad news is that humankind hasn’t yet learned its lesson and that more war is yet to occur-quite likely releasing the nuclear genie again.
Be sure to read Are We Living in the Time of the End? to learn God’s framework for end-time prophecy, as well as what you can do to prepare for it.