Main FI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Fourth International, September 1946


Review of the Month

Atom Bomb Diplomacy


From Fourth International, September 1946, Vol.7 No.9, pp.261-262.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.



The atom bomb is not on the agenda of the Paris “peace” conference. But it nevertheless dominates this latest conclave, just as it has all the other diplomatic gatherings of the Allied conquerors that have taken place since the first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. It is the principal lever in the hands of American imperialism as the latter squeezes the Kremlin ever tighter between the jaws of the diplomatic vise.

The protests of the Moscow press and of Stalin’s diplomats against “atomic diplomacy” and American “saber-rattling” (in connection with the Bikini “ experiments”) is only a pale expression of the extent to which the atom bomb – or, more accurately, the threat of unleashing it against the Soviet Union – is being employed in the current diplomatic power-play. There was one public utterance that is worth a hundred others to illustrate the Kremlin’s fear of the atom bomb, as well as the role played by this fearsome weapon in behind-the-scenes negotiations. This utterance was made by the Kremlin-licensed and Kremlin-censored Berlin Zeitung in connection with the first Bikini test. This paper rushed to proclaim the atom bomb a dud which has turned “into dust the dream that the atom weapons would make all war fleets and armies useless.” The paper added, wishfully: “The atom bomb has lost its value as an argument in diplomatic talks.”

Needless to say, the Bikini maneuvers served precisely as the strongest possible diplomatic “argument.” Timed with political precision, they have vastly increased the diplomatic potency of Wall Street’s “big stick.” This “big stick” is now being employed more and more brazenly, not only to wrest concessions from the Kremlin at the Paris conference, but, what is more important, to force the Kremlin to underwrite Wall Street’s monopoly of atomic explosives.

It has been generally overlooked that the Bikini tests occurred almost simultaneously with the heated controversy in the United Nations Security Council over the control of atomic energy. On June 14, Wall Street formally introduced its Baruch Plan. Gromyko, in the name of the Kremlin, counterpoised a different plan. Between the two plans, as both Washington and Moscow agree, there are “fundamental differences.” The Bikini bomb blasts punctuated the dispute in New York.


While the two plans differ in many respects, they have this feature in common: neither provides any security whatsoever against the atomic destruction of civilization in the next war, but on the contrary lays the groundwork for it, each in its own way.

The Baruch Plan, based on the notorious Atcheson-Lilienthal Report, proposes to set up an “International Atomic Development Authority.” This body, while attached to the Security Council, would admittedly be “semi-autonomous:’ that is, in reality entirely under the domination of American imperialism and its British junior partner. It would exercise a complete monopoly over the atomic raw materials, uranium and thorium:

The first purpose of the agency will be to bring under its complete control world supplies of uranium and thorium. Wherever these materials are found in useful quantities the international agency must own them or control them under effective leasing arrangements. (A Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy, p.34.)

In addition to owning (or “leasing”) all the raw materials, this body alone would have the right to carry on mining, processing and trading operations:

All the actual mining operations for uranium and thorium would be conducted by the Authority. It would own and operate the refineries for the reduction of the ores to the metal or salt. It would own the stockpiles of these materials and it would sell the by-products, such as vanadium and radium. It would also provide the necessary supplies of uranium and thorium for the present limited commercial uses. (Idem, p.35)


The territories of the Soviet Union are among those rich in deposits of atomic raw materials. Thus, the American imperialists propose not only to obtain “leasing arrangements” on Soviet soil, but also to effect a breach in the Soviet monopoly of foreign trade. The Kremlin has not uttered a sound on this score. The proposed monopoly over the raw materials, mining, processing and trading is nothing short of 100 per cent. This is unprecedented even for imperialist monopolies, which hitherto have been content with just the lion’s share. But nothing else can now satisfy Wall Street, because nothing short of a 100 per cent monopoly will guarantee its plans for world domination.

But this is not all. Supplementing the monopoly of raw materials, there must also be a 100 per cent monopoly of the production of atomic energy:

The second major function of the Authority would be the construction and operation of useful types of atomic reactors and separation plants. (Idem, p.35)

No power plants or stockpiles of fissionable materials may be built or operated by individuals or states, even for civil purposes, unless licensed by this Authority which “will be engaged in the production of [atomic] power.” Furthermore:

It will be engaged in licensing power plants of non-dangerous type for private or national operation. (idem, p.41)

The Authority, moreover, would have complete police powers “to inspect” at any time and anywhere all mines, stockpiles, installations, plants, etc. (idem, pp.39-41). In the Baruch Plan these police powers are to be implemented by the unrestricted right to impose, in case of violation of the foregoing provisions, penalties up to and including the use of armed force. As we see, a copper-riveted monopoly is proposed.

It is instructive to note, in passing, that the American scientists who cried out in alarm at the peril of atomic destruction, and who professed the noble aim of protecting civilization against the consequences of a military monopoly of atomic energy, have all ended up as supporters of the Baruch Plan on a world scale, and are backing its American version as embodied in the McMahon Bill. This is exactly what we predicted would happen. The scientists had and could have no independent position of their own. Attempting to rise above the classes and the class struggle, they finished by supporting the plans of American imperialism.


The so-called Gromyko Plan differs from the Baruch plan in three important respects. First, it demands the immediate “outlawing” of atomic weapons. This is an indirect admission by the Kremlin that its own researches in this sphere have not yet yielded satisfactory results. Secondly, it opposes the right of international inspection, on the ground that this “impinges on the sovereign rights of individual nations.” Thirdly, it would invest international control, not in any special Authority, but in the Security Council. The reason for this last proposal is plain enough. In the Security Council the Kremlin exercises (for the time being) the right of veto. The Authority which would be set up under the Baruch Plan would have no such procedure. Stalin evidently hopes to parry the moves of the imperialists by procedural maneuvers. It is on such frail reeds that the Kremlin dictator seeks to lean.

The Baruch-Wall Street Plan has been presented to the Soviet union virtually as an ultimatum. The Soviet spokesman Gromyko understood it in this sense. His diplomatic version of the stand of American imperialism reads as follows:

Either you accept our proposal as it stands, without change, or we refuse, we decline to conclude the proposed convention.

That an actual ultimatum is involved is further attested by the fact that the Moscow press has begun openly to talk about “American imperialism.” Up to now, such formulas have been reserved for Great Britain, between whom and the United States the Moscow strategists hoped to drive a wedge. In addition, Stalin’s Russian press and radio are now charging the United States – Secretary of State Byrnes in particular – with duplicity; with a plot to form an “Anglo-Saxon bloc” for the purpose of ganging up on the Soviet Union, i.e., preparing war against the Soviet Union in order to conquer all the world for Wall Street.

These war plans are still being ascribed in Moscow – as in the Daily Worker – to “groups of adventurers” and reactionaries “gone mad.” As the editors of the New York Times insolently remark, the Kremlin has suddenly discovered:

… a new “military caste” in the US – which decides all the most important questions in the country and tries to use the atomic bombs as a weapon for world domination. (New York Times, August 6)

The new line of the Moscow press has been followed, after adjustments to suit the customs and conventions of diplomacy, by Gromyko in the Security Council and by Molotov at the Paris “peace” conference.

Behind the Stalinist double-talk there lurks a very grim reality. Wall Street, that is to say the leading imperialist circles and not merely their military wing, are in actuality preparing to crush the Soviet Union. They would prefer to accomplish their ends by threats, by economic and diplomatic pressure, and so on. But failing such a “peaceable” solution, they are ready at the favorable moment to pass from threats to action.

Top of page

Main FI Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

This work is in the Public Domain under the Creative Commons Common Deed. You can freely copy, distribute and display this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line as your source, include the url to this work, and note any of the transcribers, editors & proofreaders above.

Last updated on 10.2.2009