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Soviets reveal atomic secrets ‘atoms for peace’ conference (August 1955)

Soviet scientists had surprised delegates at the “atoms for peace” in Geneva during this week in 1955 when they tabled detailed measurements from their experiments in atomic fission – the heart of an atomic explosion – facts which had so far been cloaked in strictest secrecy by both East and West.

View of the radioactive plume from the bomb dropped on Nagasaki City, as seen from 9.6 km away, in Koyagi-jima, Japan, August 9, 1945. The US B-29 superfortress Bockscar dropped the atomic bomb nicknamed 'Fat Man,' which detonated above the ground, on northern part of Nagasaki City just after 11am. (Photo by Hiromichi Matsuda/Handout from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum/Getty Images)
View of the radioactive plume from the bomb dropped on Nagasaki City, as seen from 9.6 km away, in Koyagi-jima, Japan, August 9, 1945. The US B-29 superfortress Bockscar dropped the atomic bomb nicknamed 'Fat Man,' which detonated above the ground, on northern part of Nagasaki City just after 11am. (Photo by Hiromichi Matsuda/Handout from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum/Getty Images)

A Western delegate had commented: “The atomic curtain in fundamental physics is now completely down between East and West.”

Never before had such a wealth of detail in such exact terms been collated and exchanged between the world’s leading scientists.

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Dr M S Kozadaev gave a long list of highly-technical data and measurements which, in the main, complemented those made in the West.

In this September 8, 1945 file photo, an allied correspondent stands in the rubble in front of the shell of a building that once was a exhibition center and government office in Hiroshima, Japan, a month after the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare was dropped by the US on August, 6, 1945. (AP Photo/Stanley Troutman, File)

A Western delegate said it would have been “quite impossible” for the Russians to have amassed such knowledge as the result of espionage.

H-BOMB ENERGY

Admiral Lewis Strauss, chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission, gave a hint that what the French Premier, Edgar Faure, in a opening-session message, called “peaceful competition”, was already in full swing.

He told a a press briefing that the United States “is and has been working for a long time” on the problem of harnessing the immense power of the hydrogen bomb for “peaceful purposes”.

Sir John Cockcroft, director of the Harwell Atomic Research Establishment, sod that Britain was “wrestling with this problem”.

But Admiral Strauss said it was “a very long-range project – and I would underscore the word ‘very’.” He added that the “harnessing of the H-bomb power was not a matter of any immediacy, and neither the United States nor anyone else has accomplished it yet”.

NO POLITICS

Admiral Strauss said the great importance of the conference was that it was just what it was designed to be – “a truly technical meeting with no political overtones”.

He said: “It has opened the way for communication between men who have not been able to communicate for a great number of years. It has no effect on American policy on secret information.”

AMERICA ‘SHOCKED’ BY SOVIET ADVANCES

Soviet scientific advances and abilities had shocked the United States, Dr Guyford Stever, chief scientist of the United States Air Force, told the Air Force Association convention in San Francisco.

The overall scientific ability of the Soviet Union, he said, “should not be discounted or underrated. Disrespect of Soviet scientific abilities could be suicidal”.

He said that the US had already lost the engineering manpower battle to the Soviet Union.

Dr Stever said: “The US graduation of engineers since 1950 had dropped to 20,000 annually while the Soviet Union had increased its numbers from 28,000 in 1950 to 54,000 this year.”

SOVIET ATOM MEN FOR HARWELL

Meanwhile it was also reported that 30 scientists from Iron Curtain countries had accepted an invitation to visit the British Atomic Research Establishment at Harwell on August 24, a British spokesman had announced in Geneva.

The spokesman said that well over 100 delegates in all had accepted the invitation. They included 15 from the Soviet Union, Belorussia and the Ukraine, and five each from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Romania.

The British Atomic Energy Authority, which had issued the invitation, had chartered three aircraft to fly guests from Geneva to Harwell and back on the same day.