Inaugural Ceremony of the World Nuclear University

Queen Elizabeth II Centre
London - 4 September 2003
Conducted at the 28th Annual Symposium of the World Nuclear Association



John Ritch
Director General, World Nuclear Association (host)

Susan Eisenhower
President, Eisenhower Institute

James Lovelock
Author of the Gaia Theory and Pre-eminent Environmental Leader

Hans Blix
IAEA Director General-Emeritus and WNU Chancellor

Mohamed Elbaradei
Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Sir David King
Chief Science Advisor to the Government of the United Kingdom

Luis Echavarri
Director General, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency

Zack Pate
WANO Chairman-Emeritus and WNU Chairman of the Board

Sig Berg
Managing Director, World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO)

William Timbers
CEO, U.S. Enrichment Corporation

Hugh Collum
Chairman, BNFL

Gerald Grandey
President and CEO, Cameco Corporation

Geoffrey Ballard
CEO, General Hydrogen, and Pioneer of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell

Anne Lauvergeon
CEO, Areva Group

Presentation of the WNA Award
for "Distinguished Contribution to the Peaceful Worldwide Use of Nuclear Energy"

Signing of the Declaration of Commitment
by Country Representatives from the entire WNU network

The Ceremony

John Ritch, Director General, World Nuclear Association (host)

John RitchLadies and gentlemen, I join Jerry Grandey in welcoming you to this Annual WNA Symposium.

This morning we honour an idea; we recall the remarkable man who gave voice to the idea; and we inaugurate a new institution to give vitality to this idea as a new century begins.

Our focus is on vision - and on institution-building - and we are fortunate today to be joined by remarkable people whose careers have embraced both.

James Lovelock was a pioneer in exploring and explaining new ways to understand our biosphere. In so doing, he became a leader in building global environmental activism.

Geoffrey Ballard, often called the "father of the hydrogen fuel cell", has pioneered a technology that is now central to our hopes of meeting human needs around the world while preserving the precious biosphere that James Lovelock helped us to understand.

What these men have in common is a clear recognition that nuclear power will be indispensable if we are to achieve the global transformation to clean energy that humankind's current plight so urgently requires.

Hans Blix, Mohamed Elbaradei, and Zack Pate are men who have shared this recognition and who have combined brains, idealism and hard work in building global institutions to support and safeguard the widespread use of nuclear technology.

Hans and Mohamed have made their contribution by strengthening the IAEA as a model of multinational cooperation - for world security and economic development - within the UN system. Zack became a world leader in helping to build a global nuclear safety culture. At this Symposium one year ago, we honoured both WANO as an institution and Zack's role in creating it.

Others on our programme are captains of industry - but not just any industry.

Some companies make products that are nice to have, such as decorator lampshades and good beer. Others provide goods and services on which we more fundamentally depend. But no industry is now more central to our world's needs than one offering the potential to produce clean energy on a vast and expanding scale.

Perhaps the greatest irony of nuclear power is that its environmental virtue contributes directly to its political weakness.

The huge multiplier that works to convert so little uranium into so much energy with so little waste works in reverse when it comes to political power. The nuclear fuel cycle produces a full one-sixth of world electricity, but gives rise to neither jobs nor wealth on a massive scale.

If nuclear energy had political influence commensurate with its genuine value in terms of health, environment or energy security, the argument over energy would have been over long ago.

That our industry is less about a commodity - and more about a highly sophisticated technology - is what brings us here today.

Nuclear energy is about knowledge, and about the people who have been educated and trained to use that knowledge.

Looking ahead, this industry has strong reason for optimism:

  • In the steadily growing public acceptance of nuclear;
  • In comparative cost trends that will increasingly favour nuclear over fossil; and
  • In the evitable recognition that renewables - valuable as they may be - simply cannot fulfil the expectations of environmental utopians.

But these favourable factors will prove no more than academic if this industry itself is not infused with the next generation of nuclear professionals - people trained and dedicated to perform the wider nuclear role toward which history is now pointing us.

This next generation of nuclear professionals must be larger in number each year - and qualified, by education and credentials, to participate in an industry that will become increasingly global.

This is our purpose in founding the World Nuclear University:

  • To unify the world's leading institutions of nuclear learning in a coherent partnership;
  • To use that partnership to attract, inspire and educate this new generation of nuclear scientists, technicians and engineers; and
  • To equip that new generation of nuclear professionals with credentials applicable to a global marketplace.

Our aim today is wholly congruent with the vision offered by President Eisenhower 50 years ago. It is to bridge national borders and to build cooperation in bringing the benefits of nuclear technology to all humankind.

Because we are celebrating this legacy today and building upon it, I want to take you back, briefly, to the genesis of "Atoms for Peace".

WNU Inaugural Ceremony

To look back is to be impressed again that this idea was born as it was - and has proven so durable. For 1953 was indeed a very long time ago.


Today, in the centre of Europe, the Brandenburg Gate has become the symbol of a continent that is unifying - in a world that is globalising.


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A half century ago, it was the scene of the first popular uprising against post-war Soviet empire. Then, the Brandenburg Gate symbolised a world divided.




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Here in Britain, 1953 brought a new beginning.


George's death in 1952 had ended a reign that spanned England's darkest - and finest - hours.


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Now, after a year of mourning, 1953 saw the coronation of a new queen whose reign would become one of history's longest.



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In those days, the words "Energy" and "Environment" had not yet become headings on the political agenda.


But the problems associated with those words were already apparent. In 1952, the toxicity of the London Smog killed 12,000 people from respiratory distress.


WNU Inaugural Ceremony 6Just a few years later - in 1956 - the young queen would go to Calder Hall to commission the world's first nuclear power reactor to deliver cleanly-generated electricity to a commercial grid.

Across the ocean in 1953, a new era was also beginning.

Following Franklin Roosevelt's death, Harry Truman had led America through momentous years of institution-building - in the United Nations, in Marshall aid to rebuild Europe, and in forming the Atlantic Alliance.

WNU Inaugural Ceremony 7As 1953 began, a new generation of leaders took office - men who had served in uniform in World War II and who would now occupy centre stage in American political life.

In Massachusetts, a young, freshly elected Senator - and his prospective bride - had already begun to attract the nation's attention.

A Senator from California was elected Vice-President after narrowly escaping the scandal of a political slush fund. He salvaged his place on the ticket by delivering - on the new medium called TV - what still stands as one of the corniest speeches in American history. In it, he simply changed the subject - to the issue of his daughters' right to own a little dog named Checkers.

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In Wisconsin, developments were sinister, as a traditionally liberal electorate re-elected the ruthless Joseph McCarthy, whose anti-communist witch-hunt had spread a dark shadow across the whole of American political life.

All was not politics, of course. In the countryside, American diversity and entrepreneurship were flourishing, and some Americans - young and old - had already seized on the principle of thinking globally and acting locally.


WNU Inaugural Ceremony 9Out on the Pacific Coast, for example, a 10-year-old Little League baseball player named Johnny Ritch gained national attention for a day by going door-to-door to collect shoes for refugees in the Korean War. As the headline on this New York tabloid suggests, he won a bicycle in reward.

The most important American event of the year, of course, was the inauguration of Dwight Eisenhower - the man everybody called "Ike".

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In more recent years, Americans have created a pantheon of political heroes and villains from which Eisenhower tends to be excluded. Typically, the 50's are recalled as a boring time of complacency, presided over by a beloved but doddering golfer.

It is true that Ike was a man of the centre. But the idea of national inertia and personal infirmity is bad history.

The Cold War was complex and fraught with terrible danger. America was fast changing, robust, and already teeming with the social ferment we now associate with the 1960's. And America's President was an extraordinary man of integrity, wisdom, personal charm and powerful intellect.

We should listen to the judgment of George Kennan, the author of the Containment Doctrine and a man not easily impressed by the brilliance of others. After an afternoon at the White House in which he watched Ike discuss world issues with Washington's foremost experts, Kennan concluded that the President had demonstrated "intellectual ascendancy" over every man in the room.

For the men who dealt personally with Ike through the years - including Douglas MacArthur, George Marshall, Winston Churchill and Charles DeGaulle - this would not have come as a surprise.

The path that had led Dwight Eisenhower to the presidency is a fascinating story - of patience, tenacity, strong character and sudden recognition and rise.

Born in Texas in 1890, young Ike was raised in Kansas with grass roots. For no strong reason, he sought and won an appointment to the Military Academy at West Point.

WNU Inaugural Ceremony 11In 1915, Ike graduated in a West Point class that would, a quarter century later, provide many of America's generals in the Second World War. Eventually, a legend was born - "the class the stars fell on".

But such events were far distant. Ike's first years in uniform coincided with the Great War, and during that period America raised and sent to Europe the million-man army that sealed the Allied victory.

 But ironically, Ike was not among them. Recognized as a superlative leader of men, Ike was kept home to use his skills as a trainer of raw recruits.

Even on the home front, promotions came fast, elevating him in just 3 years to the rank of Lt. Colonel. But then came peacetime. As America slashed military spending, turned its back on Wilson's internationalist vision, and adopted isolationism with a vengeance, Dwight Eisenhower found himself with no combat experience and few prospects.

This assessment was not unduly pessimistic. Twenty-two years later, Dwight Eisenhower was still a Lt. Colonel. In light of events to come, it seems incredible. But in 1940, as Germany invaded France, Dwight Eisenhower was a Lt. Colonel in an American Army so small by then that 16 armies in the world were larger.

What had motivated Ike during those interwar years was a combination of duty and foresight. He was one of a number of young officers - another was George Marshall - who believed that Versailles had planted the seeds of another European war and that America would again be involved.

This meant honing their skills and waiting - as the core of an American army that would be assembled if the call did indeed come again.

For Ike, the interwar years were not wasted. He read history, polished his skills as a writer, served in Panama, and gained experience at high policy levels as an aide to Douglas MacArthur, in Washington and the Philippines.

Eisenhower and MacArthur both possessed enormous talent and strong will. But they were a world apart in temperament. MacArthur looked in the mirror frequently but would seldom visit a solider in a foxhole. Ike was the opposite.

If we put into today's vernacular what happened to Lt. Col. Eisenhower after 1940, we would say that he "caught a wave" - one of the biggest in human history.

In 1940 and 1941, America's preparations for war lifted Eisenhower to Brigadier General. Then Pearl Habor brought him onto the staff of George Marshall, who had become the Army's Chief of Staff.

This was the magic connection. After just a few months, Marshall saw in Eisenhower a man who might have the brains and steel to lead American forces in Europe and to build, from nothing, a working alliance with Britain.

Franklin Roosevelt had confidence in Marshall's judgment, and by mid-1942 Ike was in London as European theatre commander of a force that still barely existed.

WNU Inaugural Ceremony 12Eisenhower's arrival was the moment the British had been waiting for since the dark days of Dunkirk.

In only a short time, Ike established a strong relationship with Winston Churchill as they set about planning an allied strategy.

But this was hardly enough. Today, we think of the "special relationship" between Britain and America as being in the nature of things. Then, it had not yet been forged, and the sides were separated by culture, war goals and egoes. Nurturing the alliance remained, for much of the war, one of Eisenhower's central tasks.

WNU Inaugural Ceremony 13Most famously, tension between the Yanks and the Brits took the form of a rivalry between Patton and Montgomery that required Eisenhower's constant mediation. But the challenge was pervasive.

Soon after arriving, Ike decided to set an example by sending back to America one of his officers who had argued harshly with his British counterpart. Ike let his reasoning be known. "It's all right to argue and even call the other guy a son of a bitch," he said. "What I can't tolerate is that he called him a British son of a bitch."

WNU Inaugural Ceremony 14The events that followed - North Africa, Sicily and Anzio, Normandy, Paris, the Bulge, Germany's defeat and occupation - are well known.

By war's end, Ike was world-famous as the conqueror of Europe.

Yet never, through these world-shaking events, did Ike think of himself as a hero. For Ike, the real hero was the ordinary infantryman who braved on through endless hardship.

Ike's feeling about this was genuine, and others saw it. Typically, enlisted men despised officers and especially generals. For Ike, they made an exception.

WNU Inaugural Ceremony 15The reassuring face on the cover of Life magazine was not a pose.

After the war, Ike became Army Chief of Staff, then president of Columbia University. Then he returned to Europe as NATO's first commander.

At Truman's request, Ike took the NATO job because he was alarmed by a new isolationism in America. The Atlantic Alliance had just barely won Senate approval. Yet Ike saw it as essential - for America's long-term security and for the short-term stability of Europe's still fragile democracies.

While in Europe, Ike heard pleas, from both American parties, to be their standard-bearer in 1952. Each expected that Eisenhower on the ticket meant sure victory.

Ike chose the Republicans; and, even from a Democratic perspective, it may have been best that he did. Without Eisenhower, Republicans inclined toward hunting communists at home and shunning commitments abroad. Eisenhower's compass was the reverse.

Ike detested the Republican right and, as the most popular figure in America, he constituted a one-man bulwark against its worst tendencies.

WNU Inagural Ceremony 16In 1952 the "military Ike" became the "political Ike".

As you can see by these covers on Life magazine - separated in time by 7 years - all that changed was the suit. Ike's reassuring visage - and his popularity - remained. The Democrats never had a chance.

No issue in 1952 loomed larger - in America or the world - than the Cold War and the nuclear arms race it had spawned.

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A new force was loose in the world, and it was not at all clear that men would have the wit and wisdom to contain it.




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From the very beginning, Albert Einstein had worried deeply over the implications of the atomic discovery.




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His fears were shared by Robert Oppenheimer, the father of America's atomic arsenal.

Oppenheimer may have been "America's No. 1 thinker on Atomic Energy" - as this Life cover describes him.


WNU Inagural Ceremony 20But he was also America's No. 1 worrier - particularly after Soviet scientists ended the American monopoly and the Cold War became a nuclear confrontation.


Eventually, Oppenheimer was to fall afoul of McCathyism. But his fears were now common among all Americans.


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Looking back, it comes as no surprise that this was a heyday of science fiction.




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The lines were quickly blurring between the horrors of the imagination and the horrors that seemed to be emerging from science.



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The figures shown here are not from a Hollywood movie. They are mannequin test dummies on the Nevada dessert.




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In the very month of Eisenhower's election, the United States tested an H-bomb 50 times more powerful than the bombs that had devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 Meanwhile, the Cold War was also carrying military budgets into the stratosphere. Between 1950 and 1953, American military spending tripled - and then tripled again.

Looking into the future, Ike saw with clear eyes where the race was leading:

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Explosive devices ever more powerful…….,




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And delivery systems with ever greater speed and range.




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From the moment of his inauguration in 1953, Ike was determined to find some alternative to an endless arms race.

His first year in office was marked by a speech in which he spoke with unsurpassed eloquence and passion against the waste of military rivalry. No more trenchant criticism of the Cold War was ever uttered.



President Eisenhower in 1953:

“A life of perpetual fear and tension… a burden of armies draining the wealth and labor of all peoples….

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed….

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the seat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children…”


WNU Inagural Ceremony 28Thus it was that when Ike went to the UN in the fall of 1953, it was not a token appearance.

The man who spoke that day had seen war in its full horror. He had lived a life without illusion, and was guided by none now. He was not posturing; nor was he voicing a utopian aim. His purpose was deadly serious.

Ike had worked with others in drafting the speech.

But many of the words - and all of the conviction he expressed that day - were entirely his own.



Click here to see the film. (Requires RealPlayer)

Click here for Part Two of the Ceremony.