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Soviet Unions Decision to Acquire Nuclear Weapons and how it Overcame the Obstacles to Acquire Nuclear Weapons - Essay Example

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The second country to develop nuclear weapons after the US was the Soviet Union.Although they were allies during the Second World War, that was only temporary alliance.Although they were allies during the Second World War, that was only temporary alliance…
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Soviet Unions Decision to Acquire Nuclear Weapons and how it Overcame the Obstacles to Acquire Nuclear Weapons
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Soviet Unions Decision to Acquire Nuclear Weapons and how it Overcame the Obstacles to Acquire Nuclear Weapons

Download file to see previous pages... The use of nuclear weapons by the US at the end of the second world war and the fact that they kept it as a secret from the Soviet Union has created a fear for Soviet leadership that they might use it for dominating them (Krieger, 2005). The decision to make nuclear weapons was a political decision of Stalin. He made the decision in the same year the Second World War ended (Reed, 2010). It took only four years for Soviet Union to become nuclear. The first nuclear weapon that they fired was a copy of the bomb dropped in Nagasaki by the US. It added to their prestige and deterrent potential. The Soviet effort to develop nuclear weapon was led by Igor Kurchatov at a secret site known as Arzamas-16 (Cold War: A Brief History, 2011). They were helped by spies inside the Manhattan project, most notably by Klaus Fuchs. Fuchs had German origin, but took British citizenship and was send to US to work on the atom bomb. He passed detailed information on the project to the Soviet Union through a courier in 1945 (Klaus Fuchs , 2011). Using the detailed description made by Klaus Fuchs, Soviets constructed a similar copy of the Fat Man bomb (Cold War: A Brief History). It was tested at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan on August 29, 1949 and its estimated yield was about 22 kilotons (Cold War: A Brief History). He also passed information regarding hydrogen bomb in 1946 an 1947, but that were not very useful. Reports of the unusual explosive force of the atomic bomb appeared in Soviet press for the first time in Pravda on 13th October 1941. Medvedev (n.d.) points out that the release of a spontaneous chain reaction by the fission of uranium-235, which had been done in 1938 in Germany by Otto Hahn, and by Frederic Joliet-Curie in France, was independently discovered by the young Soviet physicists Georgy Flerov in Leningrad and Yulii Khariton in Moscow in 1939. In the United States, the possibility of developing atomic bomb was discussed in the press in 1940. Flerov believed that research was taking place in Germany and the US in the field of uranium fission. He sent a letter to Stalin saying that nothing is being published about the nuclear program and there is something suspicious (Soviet Atomic Bomb Project, 2011). In that letter, he wrote, “we must build uranium bomb without delay (Thomas B. Cochran, 1995)”. Intelligence officials of Moscow had definite information about this. In the Soviet system during that period, only Stalin got all secret intelligence information. Medvedev argues that the intelligence communications about the atom bomb were also seen and considered firstly by Stalin. In 1942, the Soviet secret service received information from Cairncross, Fuchs and Pontecorvo. They were diehard communists. Klaus Fuchs was a physicist and atomic scientist who left Germany in 1933. John Cairncross was the secretary of Lord Hankey, one of the war ministers of the War Cabinet. Bruno Pontecorvo, was an Italian emigre and close collaborator of the famous Enrico Fermi, who, in 1942, was the first person in the world to construct a nuclear reactor (Medvedev). They send information as goodwill and on their own initiative. Much of the information passed by them was scientific in nature and only a physicist could understand them. In May-June 1942, Kaftanov reported on a letter addressed to Stalin from the physicist Flerov, who explained in a much clearer way what the atomic bomb represented, and why Germany or the USA could possess this bomb in the not too distant future (Medvedev). On hearing Kaftanov’s report, Stalin walked about a little in his Kremlin office, thought, and said ‘it is necessary to act’ (Medvedev). By this time, the intelligence departments have gathered 2000 pages of technical information regarding atomic ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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