Addressing the UN General Assembly in December 1953, US president Dwight D. Eisenhower called for the establishment of an international atomic energy organization to "serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind." The president said that he hoped the atomic powers, through such an organization, would dedicate "some of their strength to serve the needs rather than the fears of mankind."
President Eisenhower stated that the USSR "must, of course, be one" of the countries principally involved in the proposed organization. Accordingly, as a first step, the US State Department in the spring and summer of 1954 submitted a series of memoranda to the USSR suggesting the principles that should be incorporated in the statute of such an agency. It was, however, impossible for the two powers to reach agreement at that time. The USSR maintained that the issues of disarmament and peaceful uses of atomic energy were inseparable and that agreement on a general prohibition of nuclear weapons would have to precede the creation of the agency. The US countered with the argument that effective international control of nuclear weapons would have to precede their prohibition, and it announced that it was prepared to go ahead with international negotiations even without the participation of the USSR.
In the summer of 1954, the US issued invitations to seven other countries, including both "atomic powers" and important uranium-producing states—Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Portugal, South Africa, and the UK—to meet with it in Washington, D.C., to prepare a draft statute for the proposed agency. In September, the USSR reversed its previous position. It announced its willingness to separate the issues of disarmament and peaceful uses of atomic energy and to accept the eight-power draft statute as a basis for further negotiations and guidance.
In December 1954, the General Assembly unanimously adopted an "Atoms for Peace" resolution expressing the hope that the International Atomic Energy Agency would be established "without delay" in order to assist "in lifting the burdens of hunger, poverty and disease." An international conference on the statute was convened at UN headquarters in New York on 20 September 1956, with the participation of 81 nations, including some, such as the Federal Republic of Germany, that were not yet members of the UN itself. After adopting a number of amendments, proposed for the most part by the atomic "have-not" powers, the conference unanimously adopted the statute as a whole on 26 October 1956.
On 29 July 1957, the statute came into force after 26 states had deposited instruments of ratification, and the International Atomic Energy Agency officially came into existence. The first General Conference of the IAEA was held in Vienna in October 1957, at which time it was decided to make Vienna the permanent headquarters site of the agency. The address of the IAEA is Wagramer Strasse 5, P.O. Box 100, A-1400 Vienna, Austria.
Additionally, the IAEA maintains field and liaison offices in Canada, Geneva, New York, and Tokyo; operates laboratories in Austria and Monaco; and supports a research center in Trieste, Italy, which is administered by the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization (UNESCO).