Right Hon. W. L. MACKENZIE KING (Prime Minister) moved:
That it is expedient that the houses of parliament^ do approve the agreed declaration on atomic energy signed by the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the Prime Minister of Canada, at Washington on November 15, 1945, and that this house do approve the same.
He said: Mr. Speaker, the House of Commons is being asked by the motion now before it to approve the agreed declaration on atomic
energy which was signed at the White House, Washington, on the 15th of November of this year, by the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the Prime Minister of Canada.
The statement which embodies the declaration was read' to hon. members of this house by my colleague, the Minister of Justice, on the afternoon of the day on which the declaration was made. Copies of the declaration in English and in French were tabled in pamphlet form on December 1. The declaration has received the widest publicity. I think it may be truly said that it has met with general approval.
As the declaration is one of far-reaching significance and historic interest, it is desirable that it should be formally approved by both houses of our parliament. Apart from other positive advantages, such approval should serve effectively to meet the criticism that the Prime Minister of Canada in joining with the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the President of the United States in the discussions at Washington and in signing the declaration "either assumed that parliament and' the Canadian people had no views on the atomic bomb question or that their views didn't matter; that it was within his sole right and power to determine what should be done." I am happy to say that this uncalled for criticism seems to have met only with the rebuke it so obviously deserves.
No discovery, in all time, has equalled in interest that of the release of atomic energy. No discovery has been fraught with possibilities which may prove to be either so baneful or so beneficial to mankind.
It may serve as a helpful introduction to an understanding of the problems which the discovery of atomic energy has created, if I say a word or two concerning the discovery itself, and the circumstances which led to the part the release of atomic energy came to have in military warfare. My introductory words may also help to give some idea of Canada's contribution to atomic research and processes, and to explain the strategic position which Canada, along with the United Kingdom and the United States, has come to hold in working towards a solution of problems to which the use of atomic energy has given rise.
All the world now knows that the sudden termination of the war against Japan was due to the appalling destruction of life and property wrought, in August of the present year, by the use of the atomic bomb against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Until recently the world believed that the atom was the ultimate indivisible particle of
Atomic Energy Declaration
matter; a particle of matter so minute as to admit of no division. When the war began in 1939, scientists of many nations had come to recognize that the release of energy by the "splitting" of the atom, or what is scientifically referred to as "atomic fission" was a possibility. The war gave impetus to research into the means of releasing atomic energy and later to the production of atomic bombs.
At the outset, research was carried on mainly in the universities of the United Kingdom. During 1940 there was an interchange of information on war research between Britain, the United States and Canada. By the summer of 1941 such progress had been made in research in the application of atomic energy that it was felt that full use should be made of university and industrial laboratories in seeking to find, just as rapidly as possible, the means of producing atomic bombs. In October of 1941, upon the suggestion of President Roosevelt, there began a coordination and joint conduct of British and American efforts. In 1942 the United Kingdom authorities proposed that an important section of research into atomic energy should be carried on in Canada as a joint enterprise. The special Montreal laboratory of the national research council was thereafter organized, and staffed by over 300 workers. It was by far the largest organization ever created in Canada to carry out a single research project. Other research projects were undertaken at McMaster, Toronto and McGill universities, and at the national research aboratories in Ottawa.
Developments in the United States and Canada. By the summer of 1942, the expanded program of research seemed to justify a decision to proceed with the construction of large-scale production plants in the United States. The Americans alone were active in large-scale work.
At Quebec, in September 1943, an agreement was signed between Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt which bound their two countries to collaborate with the object of producing, as quickly as possible, a military weapon for use in the war. Under this agreement a combined policy committee was set up. Upon the invitation of Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill, in which I had concurred, Mr. Howe, the Minister of Munitions and Supply, was made a member of the combined policy committee as the representative of Canada.
Up to the present, uranium is the mineral that has been used as basic material for the atomic bomb process. Thorium is a probable second basic material for that purpose, although it is not as yet a proven material.
The largest proved deposit of uranium ore is in the Belgian Congo, and the next largest is in Canada. As soon as the significant use of uranium in the atomic bomb process was disclosed to Mr. Howe and myself, we secured the approval of the cabinet of the purchase of the Eldorado uranium properties in the Great Bear lake area, and reserved for the government control of all such minerals as might be discovered in Canada in the future. This was a strategic factor of high importance, since this second largest known source of raw material thereby became accessible to the large manufacturing plants already built in the United States.
The work of the several research projects has been closely coordinated with the development of a pilot plant at Chalk River for the investigation of atomic energy processes. This work is of considerable importance. It includes the study of the utilization of thorium as a starting point for the production of "active material". This pilot plant is unique in character and is suitable for a field of research that has not been explored elsewhere.
Here may I quote from a statement prepared by Mr. Churchill while he was at the head of the coalition government. It was made public by his successor after Mr. Attlee's assumption of office.
Mr. Churchill's statement is as follows:
In the United States the erection of the immense plants was placed under the responsibility of Mr. Stimson, United States Secretary of War, and the American army administration whose wonderful work and marvellous secrecy cannot be sufficiently admired. The main practical effort and virtually the whole ot its prodigious cost now fell upon the United States authorities who were assisted by a number ot British scientists.
The relationship of the British and the American contributions was regulated by discussion between me and President Roosevelt, and a combined policy committee was set up. The Canadian government whoso contribution was most valuable provided both indispensable raw material for the project as a whole, and also necessary facilities for the work of one section of the project which has been carried out in Canada by the three governments in partnership.
Elsewhere in his statement Mr. Churchill said:
By God's mercy, British and American science outpaced all German efforts. These were on a considerable scale but far behind. The possession of these powers by the Germans, at any time, might have altered the result of the war.
It is worthy of notice that the determination to embark on large-scale undertakings for production of atomic bombs was agreed upon while some details of the project were still in the laboratory stage. The outcome was a most impressive demonstration of the
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collaboration of scientific skill and technical capacity conducted under conditions of the highest secrecy.
This aspect of the production of the atomic bomb was referred to by Mr. Churchill in the following words:
The whole burden of execution including the setting up of the plants and many technical processes connected therewith in the practical sphere constitutes one of the greatest triumphs of American-or indeed human-genius of which there is record. Moreover, the decision to make these enormous expenditures upon a project which however hopefully established by American and British research remained nevertheless an awful uncertainty stands to the everlasting honour of President Roosevelt and his advisers.
What was aimed at in the combined efforts of the scientists was the development of methods for the release of atomic energy, either to produce an explosion, or as a source of power. The immediate purpose of the construction of large-scale production plants, and the wonk of the combined policy committee, was the use of atomic energy for military purposes.
It is now known that the release1 of atomic energy can be effected so rapidly that a few pounds of "active material" will produce an explosion equivalent to that of the setting off of several thousands of tons of TNT. On the other hand, -the energy released can, it is believed, be so controlled as to produce a steady flow of heat obtainable at a temperature high enough to operate steam driven electrical generating plants. One ton of "active material" used in this way would generate as much power is about three million tons of coal.
In a passage which will carry its appeal to every human heart, Mr. Churchill has vividly expressed the sentiments -to which these amazing facts give rise:
"This revelation of the secrets of nature long mercifully -withheld from man should," he said, "arouse the most solemn reflections in the mind and conscience of every being capable of comprehension. We must indeed pray that these awful agencies< will be made to conduce to peace among the nations and that, instead of wreaking measureless havoc upon the entire globe, they may become a perennial fountain of world prosperity."
This is the problem presented by the discovery of the release of atomic energy. Here is the challenge to our day and generation.
As to sharing information; up to a certain point the processes for releasing atomic energy are the same whether the purpose is an industrial, commercial or humanitarian use, or whether it is that of mass destruction. Up to this point of departure the processes are already quite widely known. The scientific knowledge upon which these processes are based has been shared by a number of nations.
Beyond this point of common development, the construction of atomic bombs consists of a series of highly technical manufacturing processes which are still very secret. Knowledge of these technical manufacturing processes is popularly referred to as the "knowhow". It is this "know-how" which is possessed in whole or in part by Britain, the United States, and Canada, and which has not been made known to other nations. The reason for not imparting to other nations, without certain guarantees and controls, the "knowhow" in the production of atomic bombs, is because of the potentialities of vast destruction involved.
It should not be supposed that the control of the raw materials presently enjoyed by Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States will, for any length of time, prevent developments in other countries. Neither should it be imagined that the processes in manufacturing atomic bombs-now secret-will prevent, indefinitely, similar developments in other countries. Even with international measures of supervision -and control, it will be but a matter of time before all processes are known to practically all nations. Hence the need for immediate action to seek every available means to end all possibility of war itself.
I come now to the declaration on atomic energy signed at Washington, on November 15th last.
As hon. members are aware, I visited President Truman at the White House on September 30th, the day before I sailed from New York for England. During this visit, matters related to the atomic bomb were referred to in conversation between the President and myself. Mr. Truman invited me to visit him again on my return from abroad. He also told me that he was looking forward to a visit from Mr. Attlee, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
Upon arrival in London, I learned from Mr. Attlee that, toward the end of September last, he had made known to the President his view on the vital importance to the world of the discovery of atomic energy. He had expressed the opinion that the application of atomic energy to warfare made it essential that those in responsible positions in the countries under whose auspices the development had taken place, should consider the problems to which it had given rise. In conveying to the President the tentative conclusions at which the British government had arrived, Mr. Attlee had suggested that personal discussion might follow.
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On October 3, in a message to Congress, President Truman said:
T therefore propose to initiate discussions, first with our associates in this discovery, Great Britain and Canada, and then with other nations in an effort to effect agreement on the conditions under which cooperation might replace rivalry in the field of atomic power.
While I was in London, communications were received from President Truman inviting Mr. Attlee and myself to come to Washington at as early a date as could be arranged to discuss with him the problems related to atomic energy.
In his Navy day speech on United States foreign policy, on October 27, President Truman, referring to his message to Congress, added that discussion of the atomic bomb with Great Britain and Canada, and later with other nations, could not wait upon the formal organization of the united nations.
Mr. Attlee and I arrived in Washington on the morning of Saturday, November 10th. Mr. Attlee had left London by plane on the afternoon of the previous day. I had left London on Saturday of the previous week to cross by ship. We arrived in Washington at the same hour. During our stay in Washington, every courtesy was extended to Mr. Attlee and myself by the President and the Secretary of State, Mr. Byrnes. From the hour of our arrival to the day of the signing of the declaration, meetings and conversations were held continuously.
In our consideration of the problems discussed, the President and Mr. Byrnes had the assistance of Dr. Vannevar Bush, director of the office of scientific research and development, and scientific adviser to the President's committee on atomic energy. Prime Minister Attlee was accompanied by Sir John Anderson, chairman of the advisory committee in the United Kingdom on atomic energy. Sir John Anderson is perhaps the best informed of anyone in the United' Kingdom on the whole subject, and on the circumstances attending the work with the Americans and ourselves in the researches on atomic energy. Mr. Attlee was also assisted by Lord Halifax, the British ambassador. I was joined in Washington by Mr. Howe, the Canadian member of the combined policy committee, and Dr. C. J. Mackenzie, president of our national research council. I was also assisted while in Washington, by the Canadian Ambassador, Mr. L. B. Pearson; by Mr. Norman Robertson, the Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs, who had accompanied me to England, and by Mr. Hume Wrong, Associate Undersecretary of State for External Affairs, who joined Mr. Robertson and myself on our arrival in Washington.
I should like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance given me by all these gentlemen and by members of our embassy staff in Washington.
In asking hon. members to support the motion which is now before the house, approving the Washington declaration on atomic energy, I feel I cannot do better than to set forth essential features of the declaration itself and, in so doing, indicate governing considerations which were constantly in the minds of all who participated in the discussions.
There was recognition at the outset that the vast significance of the discovery of the release of atomic energy was not yet fully comprehended; that very few realized the far-reaching effect of the discovery upon the future of the world-. It was agreed that the discovery had1 placed at the disposal of mankind means of destruction hitherto unknown, and against which there could be no adequate military defence, and in the employment of which no single nation could, in fact, have a monopoly. In a word, it was agreed that civilization could not survive an atomic war. It was also recognized that it was impossible to isolate the problem of the atomic bomb from the problem of the use of other weapons of destruction. The atomic bomb was seen as the latest word in destructiveness, but not necessarily the last.
The truth is that no system of safeguards that can be devised will of itself provide an effective guarantee against production of atomic weapons by a nation bent on aggression. Nor can we overlook the probability of the development of other major weapons of mass destruction, or of new methods of warfare which may constitute an ever greater threat to civilization than the military use of atomic energy. At Washington, we were therefore called upon to consider not merely the elimination of the atomic bomb as a weapon of war, but also the kind of world order which is necessary in an atomic age, if civilization is to survive.
In our deliberations we were seeking to take the first step in an effort to rescue the world from a desperate race in weapons of mass destruction. We were prepared to concede that the progress our three countries had made in the development and use of atomic energy demanded that our countries take the initiative in an international effort to prevent the further use of atomic energy for destructive purposes. We felt an equal obligation on the part of our countries to promote the use of recent and future exchanges of scientific knowledge, particularly in the utilization of atomic energy for peaceful and humanitarian
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ends. At the same time we sought to make very clear that the responsibility for devising means to ensure that the new discovery should be used for the benefit of mankind, instead of as a means of destruction, rested not on our nations alone, but on the whole civilized world.
In the agreed declaration we felt obliged to draw a distinction between the information essential for the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes and the information concerning the practical industrial application of atomic energy.
Representing, as we did, the three countries which possess the knowledge essential to the use of atomic energy, we declared our willingness, as a first contribution, to proceed with the exchange of fundamental scientic information, and with the interchange of scientists, and scientific literature for peaceful ends, with any nation that would fully reciprocate. We stated our belief that the fruits of scientific research should be made available to all nations, and that freedom of investigation and the free interchange of ideas were essential to the progress of knowledge. The basic scientific processes essential to the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes have already been made available to the world. We declared that all further information of this character that might become available from time to time Should be similarly treated.
As I have already explained, the use of atomic energy for industrial, commercial and hur-manitarian purposes is dependent upon the same methods and processes as, up to a certain point, are required for the military exploitation of atomic energy. While we were prepared to share the information essential to the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, we were not convinced that the spread of the specialized information regarding the practical application of atomic energy in the manufacture of bombs, before it was possible to devise reciprocal and enforceable safeguards acceptable to all nations, would contribute to a constructive solution of the problem of the atomic bomb. On the contrary, we thought it might have the opposite effect. However, we stated our readiness 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 effective and enforceable safeguards against its use for destructive purposes could be devised.
The attention so far directed to the strictly war aspects of atomic energy-that is, to the atomic bomb-should not be allowed to obscure the immense possibilities of development of atomic energy for the arts of peace.
The atomic bomb is a weapon of destruction unsurpassed in human experience. But the energy locked up inside the atom, controlled and directed to useful and constructive ends, may make it possible to provide goods and services for people throughout the world on a scale which we cannot now envisage. It may be the means of raising the standard of living; of providing physical comfort against hazards of weather and extremes of heat and cold. It may revolutionize some present-day means of transport and communication, making all countries of the world near neighbours in a more immediate sense than has been made possible even by the development of air transport.
It must never be forgotten, however, that the use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes cannot be developed without at the same time producing the very material which is used in a bomb.
In order to attain the most effective available means of entirely eliminating the use of atomic energy for destructive purposes, and for promoting its widest use for industrial, commercial and humanitarian purposes, we gave it as our opinion in the Washington declaration 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. We expressed the view that the commission should be instructed to proceed with the utmost despatch; and that, in particular, it should make specific proposals (a) for extending, between all nations, the exchange of basic scientific information for peaceful ends; (b) for the control of atomic energy to the extent necessary to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes; (c) for the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction; and (d) for effective safeguards by way of inspection and other means, to protect complying states against the hazards of violations and evasions. These tasks may well have to move forward by separate stages, building upon the confidence which the progressive exchange of information will provide.
Under the charter of the united nations the signatory powers have pledged themselves not to use force except in support of the purposes and principles of the charter. At Washington we expressed the view that by whole-hearted support of the united nations organization, and by consolidating and extending its authority, thereby creating conditions of mutual trust in which all peoples
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will be free to devote themselves to the arts of peace, there would be found the most immediately available means of maintaining the rule of law among nations and of banishing the scourge of war from the earth. We declared it to be the firm resolve of our three countries to work without reservation to achieve these ends.
Nothing can be truer than that without unremitting cooperation and the united effort of nations there will be no enduring and effective protection against the atomic bomb. Nor without this cooperation and united effort can there be protection against the indiscriminate use of poison or against the latest refinements in gas warfare, or protection against bacteriological warfare, all of which are even more frightful methods of human destruction than the atomic bomb. To ensure civilization from destruction it is not enough to banish atomic or gas or bacteriological warfare; we must banish war itself.
It is intended that the proposals of the Washington declaration for the establishment of a commission to prepare recommendations on the means of dealing with the problems raised by the development of atomic energy should be submitted to the first general assembly of the united nations. It is expected that the general assembly will open its first session in London on January 10. On the exact procedure to be followed in bringing up this vital matter for consideration by the united nations organization, I am unable to say anything at present.
Before leaving Washington on Thursday last December 13, to take part in the meeting in Moscow of the foreign ministers of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, the Secretary of State of the United States announced that he wished to discuss with the Soviet government its views on how they would be prepared to cooperate in the establishment of the commission and on the procedure which should be followed. On these questions we are in constant consultation with the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom, the other parties to the Washington declaration on atomic energy.
While I do not wish at the moment to attempt to look too far into the future with respect to proceedings of the united nations organization, I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak of the past in reference to the erection of the united nations organization -itself. I recall very well while the war against Germany and Japan was still in progress, there were many who felt that President Roosevelt was pressing, with
undue haste, the establishment of a united nations organization. Echoes of this criticism were heard at San Francisco last spring at the time of the united nations conference on international organization. It was not until after the conference was over, and the charter of the united nations organization had been brought into existence, that the world learned of the discovery of the release of atomic energy and of its practical application against Japan. The use of the atomic bomb as a major weapon of military warfare presented, in an instant, to all nations wholly new problems of security. Against the use of the atomic bomb in war, nothing has thus far been suggested which could be regarded as a means of defence.
President Roosevelt's prophetic vision had once more come to the aid of humanity at a time of its greatest need. Had President Roosevelt waited until the war was over to call a united nations conference to bring the charter into being, we should not have had the united nations organization at hand to-day to assist in the solution of the problems which the atomic bomb has brought so conspicuously to the fore. Instead, the countries seeking a solution of its problems would have been more bewildered and baffled than they are. The world is but slowly recognizing what it owes to the late President.
If I have made myself clear as to problems of the atomic era with which we are now faced, it will be apparent that they are primarily political problems affecting the relations between men and1 governments. Fundamentally they are a part of the age old conflict between good and evil. As such their ultimate solution will be found only in the realm of philosophy and morals. One thing is certain: they admit of no mechanistic solution. By themselves, devices for the control of atomic energy are at best but temporary expedients. For this reason, I believe, it is an error to contemplate the control of the use of atomic energy in commodity and police terms, as if atomic energy were some new and dangerous drug. Technical scientifiec controls of production, processing and final disposition are indispensable, but they are obviously inadequate. It would, I believe, be criminal folly to allow ourselves to imagine that the peace and security of mankind can be attained by any scheme of commodity control.
As political problems affecting the relations of governments, the solution of the problems presented by atomic energy must be sought in the realm of world politics. The more deeply one ponders the problems with which our world is confronted in the light-"the
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terrible light", aa Mr. Attlee said-of the implications of the development of atomic energy, the harder it is to see a solution in anything short of some surrender of national sovereignty. With a limited surrender of national sovereignty, there must be instituted some form of world government restricted, at least at the outset, to matters pertaining to the prevention of war, and the maintenance of international security.
The united nations organization is not a sufficient answer to the problems of peace and security which the world is now seeking. It is a first step, and an all-important step, in the direction of that cooperation between nations which is essential to the survival of civilization. It is not, however, the only, much less the final step. The united nations organization is an indispensable medium and Channel and forum through which the peoples of the world can work out new institutions and arrangements which their peace and security now require.
We do well to recall that the united nations charter had been signed before the world knew of the existence of the atomic bomb, much less anything about its ghastly military potentialities for mass destruction. The coming of the atomic bomb has opened our eyes to the appalling possibilities which will face the world if the united nations should fail tc achieve effective international cooperation. It is to be hoped that such a prospect may be sufficient to cause every country, in the interests of its own citizens, to recognize that "over all nations is humanity". It is devoutly to be hoped that the nations will not delay too long in welcoming, albeit in the form of some self-denying ordinance upon individual national sovereignties, a measure of world sovereignty sufficiently effective to maintain international security and to end all possibility of war.
If we are agreed on the ultimate necessity of some measure of world government to maintain world security, we should, by every means in our power, support and strengthen every agency of international cooperation anc understanding which can help to make the world community a reality. The peoples of all nations must address themselves to the task of helping to devise and shape institutions and relationships which will enable mankind to ensure, if not its salvation, at least its survival. We must work with all our might for a world order under the rule of law. This seems to be our only hope. Humanity is one. We must act in the belief that no nation and no individual liveth to himself alone, and that all are members one of another.
Subtopic: APPROVAL OF AGREED DECLARATION SIGNED AT WASHINGTON, NOVEMBER 15, 1945