West Virginia Law Review

Document Type



The dawn of the atomic age in the mid-twentieth century has brought with it many challenges and unique responsibilities. One of the most difficult among them has been the prevention of a nuclear holocaust in a world arena dotted with suspicion, jealousy and even outright hostility. Faced with excessive delays if not insuperable obstacles in finding a generally acceptable formula for atomic arms control and recognizing the close interrelationship between the civil and military applications of nuclear energy, the leading nuclear powers of the West wished to insure at least that their atomic assistance intended for the peaceful pursuits of less developed nations would not be diverted to wartime purposes and would not result in a proliferation of nuclear arms. For the achievement of these objectives, the channeling and safeguarding of civilian nuclear assistance through an international agency seemed in many ways a preferable alternative to direct help and supervision under a bilateral agreement between the supplying and the receiving nations. However, the long drawn-out and for many years uncertain birth of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) prompted the United Kingdom to initiate its bilateral procedures, just as it spurred the United States and Canada to inaugurate theirs. Now that the IAEA not only has come into being but has started with increasing fervor to discharge its safeguarding responsibilities, it seems appropriate to review and to evaluate the United Kingdom bilateral control system which, like its United States and Canadian counterparts, has been a fore-runner of the international machinery. The stipulations which have been incorporated in the United Kingdom bilateral accords with other nations for the purposes of safeguarding atoms-for-peace are in more than one way reminiscent of those found in like agreements concluded by the United States and Canada, respectively. Despite the similarities which were the result of coordinated policy among the three nations, the United Kingdom bilaterals constitute a distinct group, the provisions of which appropriately may be reviewed in terms of the purposes, procedures, and transfer of the safeguards system.



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