The Accelerated Development of the Soviet Atomic Bomb

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Stalin, political bureaucrats, and even leading Soviet physicists of the time often put early pre-war and wartime Soviet nuclear research on the back burner. This was mainly due to the Soviet Union fighting for its very existence during the first years of the war. After the tide of the war had turned towards the Soviets, and intelligence from the Western powers suggested an active atomic weapon program, renewed interest by Stalin and the Soviet machine began in earnest. The Soviet Union was behind the technological curve when it implemented its atomic weapons program in earnest and suffered greatly from a lack of resources. The Soviet scientific community, by itself, could not have produced a working atomic weapon in just four short years after the successful deployment of two atomic bombs by the United States over Japan in 1945. Resources, material, research, and scientists taken or stripped from Soviet occupied areas of the defeated Nazi Reich (mostly German) and designs stolen from the American Manhattan Project used for the Soviet nuclear weapons program allowed that program to become successful. Early Soviet nuclear physics in the 1920s and 1930s enjoyed success in many fields. David Holloway states, “In spite of the difficulties it faced, Soviet nuclear physics reached a high standard in the 1930s.” 1 Physicists such as Abram Ioffe, who studied under Röntgen, Igor Kurchatov, Kirill Sinel’nikov, and others were prominent and capable scientists who advocated and build many of the institutions in the new Soviet Union to support scientific research. Ioffe’s Physicotechnical Institute was one of these institutes. The Soviets did not actually lack from talented and intelligent physicists in the early years of scientific research... ... middle of paper ... ... Soviet H-bomb development programmes: historical background”, Uspekhi Fizicheskikh Nauk, (Russian Academy of Sciences, 1996), http://www.fas.org/nuke/guide/russia/nuke/goncharov-h-bomb.pdf. Holloway, David, Stalin and the Bomb: The Soviet Union and Atomic Energy 1939–1956, (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1994). Klaus Fuchs, “Espionage on the Manhattan Project”, Manhattan Project Heritage Preservation Association, Inc., http://www.mphpa.org/classic/SPY/ROSENBERG/fuchs_k.htm. Pavel V. Oleynikov, “German Scientists in the Soviet Atomic Project, the Nonproliferation Review”, (2000), http://cns.miis.edu/npr/pdfs/72pavel.pdf. Schwartz, Michael I., “The Russian-A(merican) Bomb: The Role of Espionage in the Soviet Atomic Bomb Project”, Journal of Undergraduate Sciences, no. 3, (Harvard University, 1996), pp. 103-108, http://www.hcs.harvard.edu/~jus/0302/schwartz.pdf.

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