This article examines the attempt by the Kingdom of Morocco—a country of pivotal geopolitical importance in the late 1970s and early 1980s—to secure a research reactor. It finds that by treating that reactor as a diplomatic object, we can observe the different diplomatic frameworks in which that object was conceived of, contextualized, and negotiated. The historical emergence of these frameworks occurred in close relationship with the IAEA, which acted as an intermediary linking various administrations, programs, and countries, including Morocco. In the end, this history reveals that the late Cold War nuclear world involved multilateral actions and forces, some of which encouraged Morocco in its bid to acquire a reactor, but others of which left that same reactor orphaned and unfinished.

Matthew Adamson

30 November 2020


Orphaned atoms: The first Moroccan reactor and the frameworks of nuclear diplomacy