Most countries met the promotion of the peaceful uses of atomic energy as a tool for social and economic development with skepticism. In countries where it took hold, its acceptance was driven by a few elite actors. In Mexico the most salient included the Rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Nabor Carrillo, and William Draper Jr., President of the Canadian-based Mexican Light and Power Company. Nuclear technologies for so-called less-developed countries became a key niche for non-governmental actors such as the Michigan Memorial–Phoenix Project, the Atomic Industrial Forum, and the Fund for Peaceful Atomic Development, Inc., which played a relevant role in the implementation of the new foreign atomic policy after 1954 in close consonance with US governmental offices like the Foreign Operations Administration, which was superseded by the International Cooperation Administration in 1955. Without signing a manifest government-to-government agreement, Mexican officials were able to overcome domestic obstacles and historical distrust with her northern neighbor to get nuclear expertise and commodities. Apparently restricted to universities and private industries, this negotiation justified and backed the education and training of the first generation of Mexican nuclear engineers as part of the Phoenix Project at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. At the same time, the Mexican Program provided a learning experience in nuclear and technical assistance diplomacy for industrialists and private interests in the implementation of the Atoms for Peace initiative abroad. This paper is part of a special issue entitled “Revealing the Michigan Memorial–Phoenix Project.”

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