Post World War II Era
1942 - 1945

Trials of the Atom | Introduction:

On August 9th, a B-29 named Bock's Car took off from Tinian Island carrying a plutonium bomb named “Fat Man”. After a failed attempt to drop the weapon on the Japanese city of Kokura, Major Charles Sweeny proceeded to an alternate target - Nagasaki, Japan. ATOM DAYS explores the untold story of the bombing of Nagasaki and then examines the ideological clashes of the Post War and early Cold War years that are marked by the prolific testing of all grades and sizes of atomic weapons. Along with the destruction of the islands of Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, the United States began testing in Nevada, where nearly a hundred atomic weapons were exploded into the atmosphere in less than fifteen years. These tests were conducted with total disregard of the hazards to the environment and human life. Tens of thousands of military personnel who participated in the tests, as well as civilians from surrounding communities, were exposed to dangerous levels of radioactive fallout that later resulted in thousands of cancer cases. In 1949, the Soviet Union tested its own atomic bomb, ending the United States monopoly on the atom and sparking the Cold War. In response to the Soviets, the United States developed the hydrogen bomb; a thermonuclear weapon a thousand times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.  Within a year, the Soviets tested an H-Bomb. As atmospheric testing of atomic and thermonuclear weapons continued by both nations, it became evident that radioactive fallout in the atmosphere was beginning to poison the environment on a global scale, and was in many respects as dangerous as the weapons themselves. ATOM DAYS tells the true story of the era of unabated nuclear weapons testing by the United States and Soviet Union that culminated in a nuclear arms race that threatened to destroy civilization.

1945 | Nagasaki

News of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 7, arrived in Tokyo the following day and specific details of the event were unclear. Military and civilian leaders argued over the acceptance of defeat. Civilians felt the atom bomb provided a way to accept unconditional surrender without shame but the military refused. The Japanese Foreign Minister continued to pursue negotiations with the Soviet Union up until August 8th. When Stalin learned of the attack, he was surprised and immediately ordered the Red Army to attack Japanese forces in Manchuria, on China's border. Between August 7th and 10th six million leaflets were printed by the U.S. Army Air Force and dropped on major cities on Japan with populations over 100,000 civilians. The text of the message described a single atom womb as... "the equivalent in explosive power to what 2,000 of our giant B-29's can carry on a single mission". It went on to say " make inquiry as to what happened to Hiroshima"..."Petition the Emperor to end the war".

On August 9th, as a million and a half Soviet troops prepared to engage the Japanese army on the Border of China, a B-29 named "Bock's Car" took off from Tinian Island at 3:47am carrying a plutonium bomb named "Fat Man". Major Charles Sweeny piloted the mission and the target was the city of Kokura. Soon after takeoff, Sweeny realized he would have no reserve fuel due to a malfunction of the fuel selector that controlled his 600-gallon back up tank in the modified secondary bomb bay. When Box Car arrived at the target smoke and cloud cover obscured the target and two unsuccessful bombing runs were attempted. The B-29 began to take burst of flak fire and recently developed Japanese fighters were attempting to engage the B-29 at high altitudes. Major Sweeny decided to abort and made his way for the alternate southern target of Nagasaki, which could be attempted on the return leg of the failed mission.

Major Sweeny only had enough fuel to attempt a single pass over the alternate target on the return leg of the mission. As they approached Nagasaki they found it obscured by cloud cover. The decision had to be made whether to jettison a bomb worth several millions of dollars into the sea or attempt to make the raid by radar rather than visual sights. They decided to try with radar. As they made the approach a hole in the cloud cover opened up at the last moment and lasted long enough to switch back to visual sights and deploy the weapon. "Fat Man" fell through a hole in the clouds and then deployed a parachute that slowed it's decent. At 1,650 feet - 11am Tokyo time, it exploded. The explosive force of the plutonium bomb was later estimated to be roughly 22 kilotons - nearly twice as powerful as the "Little Boy" bomb dropped on Hiroshima. However, the mountainous topography of Nagasaki confined the effectiveness of the explosion and as a result it caused much less damage than it's uranium core cousin. Nevertheless, it was initially estimated that roughly 55,000-60,000 people were killed over the first few days from the initial blast. Subsequent analysis has estimated that a total of 140,000 people died from injuries within five years of the bombing including the effects of the explosions's radiation poisoning.
(The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, pp. 739-742)

Emperor Hirohito forced the military leaders of the government to offer surrender terms the following day. The message came through Switzerland to Washington D.C. on Friday August 10th. The offer complied with the Potsdam declaration with the exception that "it does not comprise any demand which prejudices the prerogatives of His Majesty as a Sovereign Ruler." Truman accepted the compromise, but the reply to the Japan was somewhat ambiguous..."From the moment of surrender the authority of the Emperor and the Japanese Government to rule the state shall be subject to the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers...The Emperor and Japanese High Command will be required to sign surrender terms...The Ultimate form of government shall, in accordance with the Potsdam declaration, be established by the freely expressed will of the Japanese people." On August 15th the Emperor of Japan broadcast a pre-recorded message to 100 million subjects. It was the first time any of them had ever heard his voice: "Despite the best that has been done by everyone...the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japans advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest. Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel bomb, the power of which to do damage is indeed incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent lives...This is the reason why we have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Joint Declaration of the Powers..."
(The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, pp. 743-747)

1945 | Japan Surrenders

On September 2, 1945, hundreds of reporters arrived on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. The Japanese Foreign Minister signed a formal treaty of surrender with general Douglas MacArthur and Admiral Nimitz on the deck of the battleship that had been attacked

at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Among the entourage of American reporters was George Weller, one of the most accomplished and respected correspondents of World War II. After the bombing of Nagasaki, General Macarthur, now the supreme Allied Commander in the Pacific theater, had issued a media blackout of the Southern portion of the Japanese mainland and had censored all reports and information coming out of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Six weeks after the atomic bombings the cities were still closed to reporters. Those eager to file a post war story from the defeated country were permitted instead to visit prisoner of war camps. Weller opted to visit a site known as the Kamikaze Junk Pile, an area of bombed out hangars and an airstrip from which the Japanese had conducted kamikaze missions. The site named Kanoya, was located on the southern tip of Kyushu and soon after arriving Weller recruited the help of a sergeant and communications intelligence officer named Gilbert Harrison. They slipped away from their military detachment together by cover of night and eventually made their way to Nagasaki by rail. As the first correspondent into Nagasaki, Weller recorded his experience of the devastation caused by the "Fat Man" plutonium bomb. Contrary to many subsequent historical reports, his memoirs indicate far fewer deaths and less distraction caused by the bomb then initially reported. It seems evident from his account that the plutonium bomb was initially far less destructive than its uranium counterpart that leveled the city of Hiroshima. In opposition to popular belief of the time, he found that there was no firestorm in the city if Nagasaki. Unlike Hiroshima, there was no sweeping sea of flame that incinerated the population. Instead, the high altitude burst of the bomb and subsequent concussion of the explosion at about 12 noon, crushed the ceilings of many buildings in the city leading to a chain of fires mainly caused by kitchens preparing lunches for workers and the civilian population. These fires spread, in connection with the collapse of buildings and led to many of the immediate deaths caused by fire. According to Weller's accounts only about 20,000 died initially, mainly from falling debris from collapsing buildings. Approximately 35,000 people had been severely injured and about 18,000 homes had been destroyed. The number of casualties, may have been downplayed and purposely under-estimated by the Japanese civilians and military personnel he interviewed due to an unwillingness to admit the destruction of the city and Japan's ultimate defeat. Subsequent estimates based on both initial and short-term effects of the attack have been estimated by the Japanese government to be roughly 65,000 killed.
(First into Nagasaki by George Weller, pp. 7-16)

1945 | A Warning

In Los Alamos, many of the scientists that worked on the atom bomb soon regretted its development. Leo Szilard was horrified with the results of the weapons at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Shortly before the bombs were deployed, Szilard had written a petition to the President that underlined the moral responsibility that came with the possession of an atomic bomb. "The development of atomic power will provide the nations with new means of destruction. The atomic bombs at our disposal represent only the first step in this direction, and there's almost no limits to the destructive power, which will grow in the course of their future development. Thus any nation which sets a precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale." Soon after the use of the atom bombs against Japan, Szilard left New Mexico and Physics to pursue biology at the Cold Spring Harbor laboratory in Long Island, New York. Robert Oppenheimer also immediately regretted the development of the bomb. He was overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and became seriously depressed after reading the reports of the devastation at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In the final days of the war members on the Interim Committees’ Scientific Panel had also proposed a radical rethinking of national policy in connection with the development of atomic weapons. They were convinced "that weapons quantitatively and qualitatively far more effective than now available could result from further work on these problems." Simultaneously, they were also of the "firm opinion that no military countermeasures will be found". A few days after the Japanese surrendered. Oppenheimer carried a letter from the scientific panel to Washington in hopes of influencing policy on the continued development of atomic weapons...

"The development in years to come of more effective atomic weapons would appear to be a most natural element in any national policy of maintaining our military forces at great strength; nevertheless we have grave doubts that this further development can contribute essentially or permanently to the prevention of war. We believe that the safety of this opposed to its ability to inflict damage on an enemy power ...cannot lie wholly or even primarily with its scientific or technical prowess. It can be based only on making future wars impossible. It is our unanimous and urgent recommendation to you that, despite the present incomplete exploration of technical possibilities in this field, all steps be taken, all necessary international arrangements be made, to this one end."

Oppenheimer discovered that although he was now a national hero, he had little influence over the military policy of the nation. The letter from the panel was politely ignored. Oppenheimer now had scores of job offers. He turned down a position at Harvard and decided to return to California and moved into political circles. Later, he became an ardent opponent of nuclear weapons. Enrico Fermi accepted an appointment to the faculty at the University of Chicago. After the Trinity test, Edward Teller and Enrico Fermi had continued theoretical work on a thermonuclear device. After the Japanese surrender work on the "Super" bomb slowed. Many scientists had lost their appetite for developing weapons and wanted to return to teaching and the pursuit of pure science. With the country now at peace, it was unclear whether further efforts were necessary for the continued development of atomic weapons. Edward Teller disagreed. He was highly anti-communists due to his childhood experience during the Russian takeover of his homeland in Hungary. Teller believed the Soviet Union was as dangerous an enemy as Germany and therefore felt it was imperative to continue to work on the development of nuclear weapons. For the moment however, the future of Los Alamos laboratory was unclear.
(The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, pp. 749-757)

1945 | A New War

World War II was over and a new, different kind of war had already begun. The capitalistic democracies of the United States and Great Britain and the proletarian communist government of the Soviet Union that had formed the grand alliance, and defeated the axis powers, immediately became adversaries at the close of  World War II. This was due to a variety of reasons. First and foremost were the clear ideological differences between the nations that had fought against Nazi Germany. While both the Soviet Union and the United States were nations born out of revolution and had entered into the war as a result of surprise attack by a common enemy, they had few other similarities as nations and societies. The American Revolution had occurred over hundred and fifty years prior and was in many ways a rebellion against concentrate authority. It resulted in a government based on a constitution that valued liberty and justice for citizens and an individual's right for representation in the decision making process of governance. In contrast, the Russian Bolshevik revolution, which occurred early in the 20th century, had sought to overthrow the disparities of social class differences by means of concentrated authority and thereby hoped to create a society based on true class equality amongst its citizens. Despite it’s tarnished history of slavery and the near extinction of Native Americans as well many ongoing social discriminations into the 20th century, the United States had arguably become the freest society on earth. The Soviet Union on the other hand, having been transformed by Joseph Stalin from an agrarian society into an industrial nation through sheer will of government policy, had become the world's most totalitarian and oppressive nation of modern times.

In addition to these ideological differences the members of the grand alliance had fought very different wars against the axis powers and emerged from World War II under very different circumstances. With the exception of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States had not been attacked on its native soil and had fought World War II against both Germany and Japan from a distance. During the war, America had nearly doubled its gross national product due to its huge industrial wartime endeavor and by the end of the war had the most prosperous economy of any nation on earth. Although the United States had fought separate fronts it did so in a calculated manner that resulted in less than 300,000 American deaths in the combined theaters of the war. By contrast, the Soviet Union had only fought one war, on one front, but it was a war of total extinction and resulted in roughly 27 million combatant and civilian deaths. By the end of the war Great Britain had suffered approximately 357,000 killed and its economy was nearly destroyed and as a result, would never again be a world superpower.

These incompatibilities were compounded by the fact that during the war there was much suspicion between the key members of the grand alliance. In 1939, the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact in which Hitler and Stalin conspired together to dominate Europe was the key catalyst for the war in Europe. This pact resulted in the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany without resistance from the Soviet Union. In return, the Soviets were permitted to annex territories in Eastern Poland and the Baltic states. Hitler had few intentions of honoring the pact and after Nazi Germany had conquered most of Western Europe it began an all-out war against the Soviet Union. As a result of this, the United States and Great Britain were always suspicious that Stalin and Hitler might make a second separate peace during the latter stages of the war. On the other hand, Stalin had his own reasons for suspicion. While the United States, and to some lesser degree Great Britain had continued to offer economic support in the form of materials and supplies in the early stages of Russia’s war against the Nazis in which the Soviet Union bore most of the casualties of combat against the Nazis. Stalin believed, correctly, that his ally’s reluctance to open an early second front against Nazi Germany was deliberately planned to minimize the casualties of the United States and Great Britain. They preferred to wait until such time as Germany was weakened sufficiently by strategic air attacks and Russian military advances before opening a second front via an amphibious assault through Occupied France. By the time the United States and Great Britain were ready to invade Western Europe, the Red Army had already pushed back the German Army on the Eastern front and were advancing steadily towards Germany.

All of these military and political ambiguities, particularly between the United States and Soviet Union, would contribute to shaping the postwar era in Europe and the geopolitical landscape of the world for the remainder of the 20th century. While the Soviet Union had just barely survived the war both militarily and economically, much of postwar Europe embraced its Communist doctrine as the ideology that had saved them from Fascism. In addition to this, the Soviet Union and its Red Army became permanently based in Eastern Europe and had no intention of ever being threatened again by a Western power. The United States on the other hand, had historically practiced a policy of isolationism and was now faced with the reality of having to project democracy as a foreign policy in order to maintain its political and economic goals for a lasting peace. The eventual postwar settlement was dictated not only by all the circumstances and the position of the four Armies of the Grand Alliance in post war Europe but also by the Atom. Prior to the successful Trinity test, the United States was counting on the Soviet Union to enter the war against Japan so as to limit United States casualties. After the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the subsequent immediate surrender of Japan, the United States emerged from the war with an overwhelming technologically superior position to that of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the United States and Great Britain were reluctant to challenge Soviet Union in Europe militarily. Likewise, the Soviet Union was in economic upheaval and needed its capitalist allies to help rebuild its own nation so as to allow it to project its own doctrine in postwar Europe. The resulting Potsdam Conference allowed the Soviet Union to maintain control of territories which it had annexed under the Nazi-Soviet pact as well as additional territories conquered during the war by the Red Army including some areas of Europe that were Democratic and Pro- Western.

The United States, having fought the war in the Pacific alone, would occupy the areas of the former Japanese Empire and share occupation of liberated portions of Western Europe with France and Great Britain. Most of prewar Germany would be split into two separate states of East and West rump states each respectively controlled by separate pro-communist and pro-western governments. The German capital city of Berlin, which resided in Soviet controlled territory, was also split into east and west sectors. This overall settlement of postwar Europe, coupled with the differences in ideologies and political objectives of members of the grand alliance laid the seeds for what is now known as the Cold War. Both the United States and Soviet Union implemented their own respective Democratic and Communist forms of government in the postwar occupied areas of Europe and Asia, which they controlled in hopes of perpetuating the ideologies of their own nations.

This adversarial climate between the former allies was to be compounded more than anything else by the liberation of the atom. Long before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Joseph Stalin had knowledge of the bomb through a spy ring that had infiltrated a contributing British contingency at Los Alamos, New Mexico. Once the United States had proved the technology feasible, the Soviet Union entered a crash program to obtain nuclear power for its own purposes. It was the proliferation of the Atomic Bomb more than anything else that dictated the political and military confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States and other European nations throughout the Cold War. The United States’ immediate advantage after World War II in atomic weapons lead to a policy to stockpile such weapons and its military and political policies caused a Soviet reaction that would thrust the world into its Atomic Age and threaten mankind.
(The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis, pp. 5-29)

In April of 1946, Edward Teller returned to Los Alamos to head a secret conference organized to review previous work that had been conducted by the Manhattan project scientists on the development of the "Super" during their work on the atomic bomb. The original concept for a thermonuclear weapon was a design that would yield an explosive force of 10 megatons or the equivalent of 10 million tons of TNT. This design utilized an atomic bomb as a detonator for a cubic meter of liquid deuterium, as well as tritium - a rare isotope of hydrogen that does not occur naturally. The conference concluded that the super bomb could be constructed and probably would work. By June 1946, the United States nuclear arsenal consisted of only nine plutonium bombs based on the Fat Man design. Of these, only seven could be made operational due to the lack of initiator's and limited plutonium production at the Hanford reservation after the War due to problems with the production piles. Teller and members of the secret conference recommended that the further development of fission weapons as well as thermonuclear weapons should be made a high priority of national policy in light of heightening political tensions with the Soviet Union. For the moment, however, policy makers were comfortable in the knowledge that the United States alone commanded the technology of the Atom and there was no strong argument for the development of the Hydrogen Bomb.
(The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, pp. 764-766)

The Manhattan Project had provided the United States with the world's first atomic bomb as well as an enormous industrial capacity for the exploitation and development of atomic weapons and energy. At the end of World War II the United States government was faced with the question of how to regulate this newborn industry both politically and militarily. Upon announcing the United States possession of this technology, President Truman had set forth three major geopolitical and military policies for the future of nuclear arms control. First and foremost, President Truman recognized the future need for international control of nuclear development but at the same time maintained that the United States would closely guard this secret until such time as it could ensure its own protection against other nations that might seek to acquire the technology. Second, he declared that atomic energy had far-reaching potential for all of mankind and should become a "forceful influence of world peace". Third, he informed the American public that he would ask Congress to establish a commission to control the use and production of atomic power at all its forms. After considerable debate in Congress and the Senate over the next year, a bill known as the Atomic Energy Act was passed by the Senate on June 1, 1946 and subsequently signed into law by President Truman. This act of Congress formed the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC); a government controlled, civilian agency that would oversee all aspects of the proliferation of atomic technology. During the year and half of legal and political debate, General Leslie Groves had maintained control over the Manhattan project laboratories and facilities in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Hanford Reservation in Washington State. Once the AEC assumed control of these facilities there was little change in the policies General Groves had established during the previous four years under the U.S. Army. It was evident that the United States military would continue to influence the decision-making processes with respect to atomic weapons through the AEC and did so for the next 30 years. This influence is intentionally illustrated, and confirmed, in opening statements of the Atomic Energy Act that prescribe the atomic energy commission's "paramount objective"..."at all times", will be "assuring the common defense and security" of the nation.
(Bombs in the Backyard by A. Constandina Titus, pp. 22-29)

1946 | Operation Crossroads

Shortly after the end of World War II, the Joint Chiefs of Staff had begun to argue for a full-scale atomic weapons testing program. President Truman had approved the development of such a program even before he signed the Atomic Energy Act into law. On January 10, 1946, the President approved the first series of atomic tests code-named "Operation Crossroads" for the US Navy under the authority of Admiral William (Boom Boom) Blandy. Blandy’s Task Force One, would test the effects of atomic weapons against naval vessels. A semicircular chain of islands called Bikini Atoll, located in the Marshall Islands of the Pacific Ocean was chosen as the test site. Bikini had ideal weather conditions, a large deep-water lagoon for test subject warships and was located close to an island, which could be used as a base for bombers. Bikini was an ideal testing site except for the fact that it was inhabited. The United States government decided to resolve this minor problem by simply relocating the entire tribe of 167 native people who had lived on the island for centuries to an uninhabited island 140 miles east at Bikini. The Bikini natives were promised that they could return to their home islands once the testing had been completed.

The first test was scheduled for May 15, 1946. Over 40,000 military personnel and several hundred civilians were sent to the island to assess the effects and the atomic explosion on over 200 navel vessels. These included captured Japanese and German ships as well as many decommissioned U.S. vessels from World War II. The plan for Operation Crossroads was well publicized by the media and by the time of the first test the world was watching. However, the date for the first test was actually postponed by President Truman for six weeks in order for key congressmen considering legislation the Atomic Energy Act to arrive in Washington when the event occurred. At just after 9 a.m. on July 1, 1946, history's fourth atomic device was dropped from a B-29 named Davis Dream. This first test was code-named "Able" and detonated a 23 kiloton plutonium bomb nicknamed "Gilda" at an altitude of 1000 feet above the target naval vessels. Five ships sunk immediately and many others were heavily damaged. The test was considered by many observers as somewhat of a disappointment based on their expectations of the Atom Bombs capabilities for the total annihilation of an enemy city, or large groups of military forces. This led to a public perception that, contrary to popular belief, the bomb might not force the immediate surrender of a powerful nation. And as a Time magazine report surmised, "Awful as it was, it was less than the expectations of many onlookers". Within hours after the "Able" tests radiation monitors reported the target area safe for human occupation based on their belief that most of the radioactive fallout from the explosion was carried into the upper atmosphere.

The second test of "Operation Crossroads" code-named "Baker" was carried out three weeks later on July 25 and was detonated beneath the surface of the Bikini lagoon to test the effectiveness of the explosion against the hulls of naval vessels as well as submerged submarines. Scientists were aware that this test would pose a greater threat from radiation since fissionable products would be captured in vaporized steam from the water that would then condense and subsequently rain down on the target area. Despite their warnings, full-scale evaluation and cleanup operations were conducted in only four days after the test to collect laboratory animals and test instruments aboard the ships. The ships were scrubbed down with soap and water in an effort to decontaminate them exposing thousands of enlisted men to extremely high levels of radiation. When this proved ineffective the ships hulls were then sandblasted to remove their paint in a further futile effort to decontaminate them so they could be made operational and moved out of the test area. The men who performed these tasks wore no protective gear or clothing. Later testimony by enlisted Navy personnel involved in the exercise would reveal the clear ignorance of the dangers of radiation exposure and lack of safety standards for the men involved in the test. According to Jack Leavitt, a Navy enlisted man, "at no time did I or anyone working with me...have a Geiger counter, nor any other testing device to measure the danger of radiation. Frank Kerasti boarded a destroyer a day after the test and recalls, "Out of the four hours we spent on her, two were spent vomiting and retching as we all became violently ill." The U.S. Navy and government have historically argued that Navy personnel at Bikini received less than the minimum dosage of radiation considered dangerous as proven by film badges they wore during the operation. Many former enlisted men claimed they were never issued such badges and in subsequent litigation it was found that information pertaining these badges could only be documented for roughly a quarter of all the personnel present during "Operation Crossroads". President Truman inexplicably canceled a third test of the operation. It is likely that this cancellation was due to the scheduled takeover of testing operations in 1947 by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), rather than because of the radiation hazards caused during the first two tests. Testing in the Pacific would continue over the next decade with the same disregard to the safety of military personnel, indigenous populations and the environment.
(Bombs in the Backyard by A. Constandina Titus, pp. 36-42)

1948 | Operation Sandstone

After Operation Crossroads, Secretary of Commerce, Henry Wallace, criticized the U.S. testing and development program and was dismissed on September 20, 1946 by President Truman due to Wallace’s objections towards the adoption a hard line stance against the Soviet Union and the buildup of an atomic weapons stockpile. Wallace argued that an arms race would lead to war rather than peace. Truman's request for Wallace's resignation made it very clear that any criticism of the Truman administrations plans for a hard-line nuclear stance against the Soviet Union or any other nation that would challenge American atomic superiority would not be tolerated. With the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) now in command of Task Force One, a second series of tests named "Operation Sandstone" was planned at another Pacific island chain known as Eniwetok Atoll, a group of small islands that were part of a chain of 40 islands halfway between Hawaii and the Philippines. In June 1947, President Truman approved the test series and again a native population of 142 inhabitants on the islands of Bijiri and Aomon were relocated to the smaller Atoll Ujelang Island, 124 miles to the southwest. Unlike the Bikini tests, "Operation Sandstone" was planned and executed in complete secrecy. The purpose of the tests was to study recent improvements in the plutonium bomb design to yield a more powerful weapon. "Operation Sandstone" consisted of three tests detonated from 200-foot towers. The first device, code named “X-Ray” was detonated on the island of Enjebi on April 15, 1948, and yielded a 37 kilotons explosion. The second shot, "Yoki", was detonated on Aomon Island on May 1, and yielded an explosive force of 49 kilotons. The next test, "Zebra", an 18-kiloton bomb was detonated on May 15 on Runit Island. In order to study the blast of the fission weapons, by products of the explosions had to be sent back to Los Alamos laboratory for immediate study. As a result, within minutes after the detonations, military personnel were flown by helicopter into Ground Zero to collect samples; exposing them to extremely high levels of radiation. From a scientific point of view, the tests were extremely successful and verified the bombs modified designs, which used fissionable material with much greater efficiency. This paved the way for the development for much more powerful atomic weapons. After "Operation Sandstone" the AEC did not test in the Pacific for over three years. Several alarming events took place soon after the tests that forced the United States to completely redevelop its atomic weapons program.
(Bombs in the Backyard by A. Constandina Titus, pp. 44-46)

1949 | Russia's Atom Bomb

The Soviet Union detonated an atomic weapon with a yield nearly identical to United States Trinity test on August 29, 1949. The United States government and the American public were shocked at how quickly Russian scientists had ended the U.S. monopoly of the Atom. A subsequent high priority investigation by the FBI later revealed that the Soviet Union had planted an espionage ring at Los Alamos during the Manhattan project. In 1941, a German born nuclear physicist named Klaus Fuchs had been recruited into the British nuclear weapons project code-named "MAUD" by Rudolf Peierls. Fuchs was cleared by British security (MI5) and began working on the Manhattan project in 1943 as part of a "MAUD" team collaborating with Los Alamos scientists during World War II. Unknown to both British and the United States intelligence services, Klaus Fuchs had been a Soviet spy since 1939 and during this time at Los Alamos had passed detailed plans of the Trinity plutonium device to the Soviet Union. By the time the Trinity test had been conducted, Joseph Stalin had already ordered his own physicists into a crash program to develop a Soviet atomic weapon based on the information obtained from Fuchs and other espionage efforts. In 1949 the FBI asked British intelligence to interview Klaus Fuchs. Fuchs confessed to his role in atomic espionage and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. Fuchs confession led to the arrest of several Americans involved in Soviet espionage including Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Julius Rosenberg had been identified as a key individual who had operated a spy ring during and after World War II. While evidence suggests Ethel Rosenberg's involvement was limited to helping her husband in clerical matters, both were tried and convicted of treason. From the time of their arrest, through the trial, the Rosenbergs had claimed they were innocent. The trial became the focus of public attention with opinions divided on the strength of the evidence against them. Nevertheless, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to death and executed on June 19, 1953.
(Encyclopedia of the Atomic Age by Rodney P. Carlisle; Editor pp. 112, 285-287)

"In December 1941, as the Germans reached the outskirts of Moscow, a twenty-eight-year-old student in the air force, Georgii Flerov, speaking at a specially organized Academy seminar attended by representatives of the many institutes that had been evacuated to Kazan, argued that the uranium problem required special attention. Many thought Flerov's ideas were pure fantasy." Georgi Flerov subsequently wrote a letter to Joseph Stalin similar to the one written by Einstein to President Roosevelt. This convinced Stalin to pursue an atomic bomb program about the same time of as the commencement of the U.S. program. While the information stolen from Los Alamos by the Rosenberg spy ring certainly helped the Soviet atom bomb program, a Soviet atomic weapons program was inevitable.
(Red Atom by Paul R. Josephson, Chapter 1)

1948 | Marshall Plan

In addition to Soviet scientists developing an atomic bomb, other events had unfolded on the world stage that would also influence U.S. atomic weapons policy and thrust the world into the ideological struggle of the Cold War. Following World War II, the United States began a program of economic and military assistance to Greece and Turkey in order to support those pro-democratic nations after Great Britain had announced it could no longer afford to help support pro-western countries. These initial efforts to assist European countries were the result of a philosophy developed by the Truman administration to support free peoples around the world to help buffer communist aggression. This strategy led to the “European Recovery” Program, which became known as the Marshall Plan after its architect Secretary of State George C. Marshal. The Marshall Plan went into operation in 1948 and lasted until 1952. The plan was in many way a political effort to reduce the risk of poverty and despair in many post-World War II nations that might lead to adoption Communist forms of government under Soviet influence. The Marshall Plan hoped to encourage Western European nations to maintain democratic societies and prevent communism from spreading. The effects of the Marshall Plan were immediately positive and provided an improved standard living for the peoples and nations within the Western European sphere of influence and simultaneously solidified divisions between Eastern and Western Europe. This became immediately evident in Germany. As conditions in West Berlin quickly improved under the Marshall Plan, thousands of citizens from East Berlin began to flee to western portions of the city.

1948 | Berlin Airlift

The Soviet Governments response to this was to impose a blockade on West Berlin by cutting the supply lines that ran through the Soviet Occupation Zone and eventually led to the construction of a wall partitioning the city. Historians believe these Soviet actions were an attempt to force the American, British and French occupying military forces out of their respective sectors of the city or at least hamper their efforts to consolidate support for the pro democratic government in West Berlin which might lead to a revolt against the Soviet Union in East Germany. In response to the blockade Western allies coordinated an airlift to bring supplies into West Berlin, thereby thwarting the Soviets attempt to squeeze Berliners into accepting Russian dominance over the city, Soviet actions in Germany persuaded Western European nations that they needed more than just the economic assistance of the Marshall Plan. This conclusion led to the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which put the United States into a leadership position for the defense of Western Europe. During this time it, it appeared that the Soviets hopes for the spread of communism throughout Europe and the world might be a lost cause. However, these Western post World War II ideological victories were short-lived. On October 1, 1949 immediately following the Soviet atomic bomb test, the Cold War expanded into Asia.

1949 | Red China

The Nationalists government of China under Chiang Kai-shek was overthrown and replaced by the Communist People's Republic of China under Mao Zedong marking the end of China's civil war that had been underway since World War II. The communist victory surprised both the United States and the Soviet Union leaders who had suspected that the Nationalists would continue to govern China in the Post World War II era. While Mao had achieved his victory with little help from the Soviet Union, the new Chinese leader was a dedicated Marxists-Leninist and recognized Stalin as the leader of the International Communist movement. The Soviet Union and China were now effectively ideologically allied against the United States and Stalin soon took advantage of this opportunity. In December 1949, the two communist leaders met in Moscow and produced the Sino-Soviet treaty that pledged the two nations would come to each other's assistance if attacked; effectively countering the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Later, the Soviet Union also formed the Warsaw Pact with Eastern European nations under their sphere of influence to further counter the perceived threat from NATO.
(The Cold War: A New History, by John Lewis Gaddis, pp. 31-40)

1950 | Korean War

The nation of Korea had been part of the Japanese Empire since 1910. When Japanese occupation collapsed late in World War II the Korean peninsula the southern portion of the country was occupied by the military forces of the United States who were staging the planned invasion of the Japanese home islands. At the same time, The Soviet Red Army had occupied the North, planning to invade Japanese occupied Manchuria. As a result, Korea like Germany became divided and jointly occupied by Soviet and American forces at the end of World War II. The United States and Russia agreed that the Korean nation be temporarily split at the 38th parallel demarcation line until such time as a single Korean government could be formed and the occupational forces withdrawn. Between 1948 and 1949, a withdrawal of the occupation forces took place but the nation remained divided into two political bodies claiming to be Korea's legitimate government. The Americans supported the Republic of Korea governing in the South and the Soviet supported the Democratic Republic of Korea ruling in the North. Each side threatened to invade the other and lobbied for support from their respective Superpowers to allow them to do so. The United States decided not to support their Korean allies in an offensive military action because the Truman administration was primarily focused on the defense of Japan and the Philippines. Stalin on the other hand, armed with his new communist ally China, who strategically shared the Korean border with the Soviet Union, gave North Korea's leader Kim Ill-Sung an endorsement for the invasion of South Korea in early 1950. Kim Ill-Sung had assured Stalin "the war will be won in three days." And Stalin had support for the decision from Mao Zedong. Stalin believed this decisive victory would counter strategic losses in Western Europe caused by the formation of NATO and that a unified communist Korea would strengthen the influence of Communism in greater Asia, started by Mao's victory in China the previous year. He also believed that the United States would not risk intervention and direct military action.

North Korean forces invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. Once again Stalin had underestimated the resolve of the United States government to thwart the spread of communism. While South Korea was not considered a strong point in the global balance of power by the United States, the invasion over the UN sanctioned 38th parallel was reminiscent of the German invasion of Poland and challenged the security structure of the postwar settlements reached at Potsdam. The United States backed by the United Nations Security Council immediately responded by mobilizing the American army stationed in Japan to intervene. By the time the United States responded South Korean forces had retreated to the southeastern tip of the Korean peninsula and were on the verge of defeat. A daring and brilliant military maneuver by the United Nations commander General MacArthur, surprised North Korea with a landing of United States forces at Inchon, North Korea, trapping the North Korean army below the 38th parallel, cutting off their supply lines and effectively defeating them. By late September Macarthur’s forces were advancing into North Korea. Stalin was not prepared or willing to oppose the UN forces directly with Soviet troops and informed Kim Il-Sung to prepare for the evacuation of the Northern part of the peninsula. Mao on the other hand had anticipated the Inchon Landing and had advanced Chinese troops to the Korean border. On November 26, 1951, 300,000 Chinese troops crossed over the Chinese-North Korean border and attacked the advancing UN forces with devastating effect, pushing United States and South Korean forces back down the Peninsula into defensive positions reminiscent of World War I trench warfare. Faced with these Chinese reinforcements, General Macarthur proposed the use of atomic weapons to force the withdrawal of the Chinese forces from all of Korea. President Truman, who officially never regretted his decision to use the atom bomb against Japan in World War II, overruled General MacArthur’s recommendation and subsequently relieved him from command. The United States refrained from the use of atomic weapons in the Korean War, which lasted until an official cease-fire on July 27, 1953, and the restoration of the similar borders between North and South Korea along the 38th parallel. During the Korean conflict 36,568 Americans died in combat and it is estimated that nearly 600,000 Chinese troops and over 2 million Korean civilian and military personnel were killed.
(The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis, pp. 41-50)

In response to all of these events, President Truman made three major decisions. First, he authorized the priority development the “Super” thermonuclear device that became known as the Hydrogen Bomb. Second, he requested funding from Congress for a military build up that would bring United States Armed Forces back up to World War II levels. Third, he authorized the establishment of atomic testing sites within the continental United States. While the Pacific testing grounds would continue be used it was believed a closer and more secure testing area would be necessary for the further study and development of atomic weapons. In addition, the AEC required a testing site that could be more easily maintained and defended than the previous remote locations in the Pacific. A Continental testing ground would also eliminate the need for transporting scientific and military personnel as well is huge amounts of resources and equipment to remote sites half-way around the world. A climate of fear had begun to emerge in the United States, and both the media and the public welcomed these new initiatives.

1950 | Nevada Proving Grounds

Despite warnings from the scientific community about the possibility of the spread of Nuclear Radiation fallout, a continental test site was established in December of 1950 in southern Nevada at a desert location known as Frenchman Flats. The site was than 70 miles northwest of the city of Las Vegas and was originally part of the Las Vegas-Tonopah bombing and gunnery range held under the command of the United States Air Force. On December 21, 1950, a 350-mile portion of the range was leased to the AEC as a permanent testing site that was subsequently expanded and became known as the Nevada Proving Grounds. The site was chosen from several possibilities. The location was already under the control of the federal government and thereby eliminated any problems with state or local authorities. The site was also near an Air Force air base that could easily be converted into a permanent AEC facility. Most importantly, the site was remote and with the exception of a few very small communities it was isolated from any civilian population centers. In addition, the site had a low annual rainfall and predictable winds which were considered ideal for atmospheric testing.

1951 | Operation Ranger

The first series of tests in the were code-named "Operation Ranger" and began on January 27, 1951, scarcely six weeks after President Truman had officially approved the facility. Over the next two weeks five atomic devices where dropped by aircraft over Frenchman’s Flats. The force of the detonations ranged from 1 kiloton to 22 kilotons. The shock wave from one of the tests caused shattered windows in Las Vegas. The fission safety monitors claimed that no significant radiation had occurred outside the testing site and no one had received any detectable injuries during the tests. The tests were praised for the safety and efficiency by which they were conducted resulting in immediate plans to expand the facilities to accommodate additional personnel and equipment. This expansion included the addition of AEC scientists as well as military troops that would participate during the next series of tests to measure the psychological impact of the bomb on soldiers. Operation Buster-Jangle began on October 22, 1951 and consisted of seven tests with detonations ranging from a 10th of a kiloton to 31 kilotons. Over 3000 military troops were involved in the operation including observation of the tests and tactical maneuvers after the detonations. After the operation, two separate research teams measured the psychological impact of the tests on the troops and submitted reports with very different findings. The first research team formed The Human Resources Research Office and was contracted by the Department of Defense from George Washington University. Their report indicated a positive upbeat attitude towards the bomb could be obtained with thorough indoctrination, careful planning strong leadership and test site experience. 83% of the men surveyed by this group said they would volunteer to participate in another exercise, 78% expressed confidence in the experts not to allow them to be harmed, and 62% said they'd have no problem being sent into actual atomic combat. The second research group, the Operations Research Office was comprised of human behavior specialists from Johns Hopkins University. They reported dramatic changes in the heartbeat and blood pressure of the soldiers that indicated the men wear much more concerned about the bombs than their verbal responses suggested. This report also criticized the artificial nature of the tests and recommend repeating the maneuvers under more realistic conditions. The Pentagon responded to this recommendation by asking the AEC to allow troops to be deployed closer to Ground Zero during the next exercise. Existing AEC safety regulations prohibited any person from being within 6 miles of a detonation. Under pressure from the military the AEC relinquished all its safety and health responsibilities concerning military personnel to the Pentagon.

Once the Pentagon gained control over the Nevada Proving Grounds several changes were implemented. Facilities at the test site were further expanded including the construction of Camp Desert Rock that became home to approximately 90,000 soldiers during the next decade. Combat units would now be placed within 2 miles of Ground Zero and volunteer officers were allowed to remain as close as 2000 yards from the blast. The amount of radiation exposure deemed acceptable was doubled from three to six rounds of tests and Army trained radiation monitors replaced the AEC specialist and assumed the responsibility for radiation film badges and analysis of physiological effects on the troops. In addition, troops would perform maneuvers within Ground Zero immediately after a blast rather than waiting several hours. While these changes were intended to make the maneuvers more realistic, thousands of soldiers who participated in these tests were unknowingly subjected to extremely hazardous levels of radiation.

1952 | Hydrogen Bomb

In response to the Soviet test of a fission bomb, the Secretary of State, Secretary Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff had been pressuring President Truman to move forward with a crash program for the development of the “Super” in the fear that the Soviet Union might produce this kind of weapon first. The AEC's General Advisory Committee (GAC) had been debating this subject even before the Soviet A-bomb test. The committee, chaired by Robert Oppenheimer, consisted of members of the AEC, officials in the Defense Department, and a small number of scientists. The GAC recommended against the development of the “Super” bomb. Instead, they proposed the increased production of fissionable material and further efforts to improve the efficiency of Atom Bomb designs so they could be used as tactical weapons. They also recommended pursuing an existing Los Alamos program to use small amounts of tritium to boost the explosive power of Atom Bombs. This alternate recommendation was based on two arguments. First, a “Super” bomb, with an estimated explosive yield of 10 Megatons, would have little practical military purpose. It would be so powerful, that it could only be used as a weapon of mass destruction. Second, Edward Teller's classic design under consideration for a thermal nuclear weapon would require enormous amounts of tritium. Tritium was 80 times as expensive to produce than plutonium and would compete for limited resources at existing facilities producing material for fission bombs. The scientists and engineers of the committee did not see the logic in dramatically slowing the development of workable fission bombs to develop a new weapon that might prove unsuccessful. After considering all the arguments, President Truman listened more to the military Joint Chiefs of Staff than he did the scientists. On January 31, 1950 he officially announced his decision to proceed with the development of the Hydrogen Bomb. Fatefully missing from both sides of the argument was the prospect that the development of the Hydrogen Bomb would initiate a nuclear arms race between the United States and Soviet Union.

The first step towards a workable Hydrogen Bomb was to develop a mathematical model of a thermonuclear reaction. The primary difference between an atom bomb and a hydrogen bomb lies in how the energy from the atom is released. Fission weapons such as the uranium and plutonium bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki release energy by splitting an atom with secondary neutron bombardment leading to additional secondary neutrons to further atom splitting on an exponential scale known as a chain reaction. A thermonuclear device would transmute or fuse two or more atoms into a new single atom releasing tremendous energy similar to the process that occurs at the core of our Sun. Edward Teller's original idea for a “super” bomb was conceived even before the formation of the Manhattan project.

In late 1949, prior to President Truman’s decision to pursue the hydrogen bomb, scientists at Los Alamos had begun preparing the mathematical calculations for a thermonuclear device using ENIAC; the worlds first electronic computer. These calculations indicated that Teller's classic design would result in the device fizzling before it reached a fusion reaction. Teller's original design simply would not work and it became apparent that he had never fully worked out the theoretical calculations for thermonuclear reactions. Teller became angry with the scientists that supported of the results of these new calculations. Teller's classic design for the “Super” involved packing the thermonuclear material, either deuterium or tritium, in a spherical shell around a modified “Fat Man” plutonium bomb in hopes of heating the material with a fission explosion to trigger the fusion reaction. It became evident based on these calculations however, that the fission explosion would blow apart the thermonuclear materials before they could undergo the thermonuclear process.

Stanislaw Ulam, who had worked on the Manhattan project, built on Teller's concept and came to the realization that the thermonuclear materials should be physically separated from the fission detonator. This separation would allow the flux of x-rays traveling at the speed of light from the fission reaction to reach the thermonuclear material and initiate the fusion process before the subsequent explosion from the detonator would blow everything apart. The Ulam-Teller design, as it came to be called, eventually proved successful with a few modifications. Generally speaking, the physical configuration of the H-bomb took the shape of a capsule. A small plutonium fission bomb located at one end of the capsule would act as the detonator. Once exploded, the resulting x-rays of superheated plastic foam surrounding a cylindrical stick of thermonuclear materials would transform into a plasma of ionized gas. This plasma would expand with atmospheric pressures thousands of times greater than that of conventional explosives. The resulting pressure from the expanding gases would collapse onto the light atoms of deuterium and tritium and increase the velocity of their subatomic particles forcing them through the electrical barrier of their nuclei to form atoms of helium. Once the process began, the binding energy of the original atoms would be released and promote additional fusing of atoms. Therefore, just as a fire can be made larger and larger by adding additional wood, so too can a thermonuclear fusion reaction be made larger by adding more material. However, like a fire, the reaction must also be well started. In order to assure ongoing fusion reactions, the thermonuclear materials were encased in a layer of U238 to sufficiently scatter the x-rays back into the plastic foam and a stick of plutonium would serve as an inner core within the cylinder of thermonuclear materials. This resulted in the superheated plasma from the surrounding plastic to begin the fusion process from the outside. As the assembly collapsed inward it initiated a second fission explosion from the plutonium inner core that boosted the fusion process from the inside. The final configuration proved successful and allowed mankind to release the energy of the stars on earth. This fission to fusion to fission process became the mechanism for the Hydrogen Bomb.

1952 | Operation Ivy

Under a veil of secrecy, a full-scale test of a thermonuclear explosive device was prepared on the island of Elugelab at the Eniwetok Atoll testing site in the Pacific. Code-named “Mike”, the final assembly weighed 65 tons and utilized large quantities of liquid deuterium and tritium cooled by a massive cryogenic refrigeration plant to facilitate the fusion reaction for the test. Operation Ivy began on November 1st, 1952. The “Mike” device exploded with the destructive force of 10.4 million tons of TNT - the equivalent of 500 Hiroshima bombs. The explosion produced a plasma fireball that expanded three miles into the atmosphere, vaporized a large portion of the island of Elugelab and left a crater 175 feet deep and over a mile wide in the seabed. Edward Teller monitored the test with a seismograph from the basement of the Berkeley Institute Geology building. After receiving the seismic wave from the explosion, he dictated a one-line telegram to Los Alamos. It read... “it's a boy”.

The second test in Operation Ivy was the "King" shot. The test was of a prototype of the Mk 18 Super Oralloy bomb ("SOB") and was the most powerful fission bomb available. The bomb was dropped by a B-36H bomber near Kwajalein Island and detonated at a height of 1480 feet with a yield of nearly 500 Kilotons of TNT; about 20-25 times as powerful as the fission bombs dropped on Japan during World War II.
(The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes, pp. 769-778)

1953 | Operation Upshot-Knothole

In March of 1953, Operation Upshot-Knothole commenced at the Nevada Proving Grounds. This series of six tests exposed exercise personnel to nuclear tests, and thus radiation, more aggressively than previous ones. Troop formations were deployed at what was calculated to be the minimum safe separation distance, with many personnel being exposed to multiple tests. Brigadier General H.P. Storke, the Commander of camp Rock, proudly informed his men "In this exercise, for the first time in known history, troops successfully attacked directly towards Ground Zero immediately following the atomic explosion." Operation Upshot-Knothole included the “Harry” shot, which resulted in the heaviest contamination of civilians living downwind of the Nevada test site - of any U.S. continental test, as measured by external gamma ray exposure. Atmospheric testing in Nevada continued throughout most of the 1950's with many of the tests involving troop maneuvers. A large percentage of the troops who participated in these tests as well as citizens of nearby population centers were exposed to extremely high hazardous levels of radiation fallout. Many would eventually develop cancer and other radiation related diseases. In addition to the military personnel directly involved in maneuvers involving atomic detonations, over 200,000 civilians were contracted to work at the test site during 1950s. These individuals carried radiation on their clothes off site unknowingly contaminating their families and friends with low-level radiation resulting in an undetermined number of additional cancer related fatalities.
(Bombs in the Backyard by A. Constandina Titus, pp. 56-64)
(They Never Knew: The Victims of Nuclear Testing by Glenn Cheney, pp. 57-62)

1953 | Soviet H-Bomb

Less than nine months after the first U.S. thermonuclear test, the Soviet Union detonated a thermonuclear device with the yield to 700 kilotons on August 12th, 1953. Historians argue whether or not the detonation was a true thermonuclear explosion. Evidence suggests it was actually a boosted fission bomb that used a small component of thermonuclear material to enhance the explosion. Nevertheless, the test indicated that the Soviet Union was much closer to the United States in advanced nuclear weapons designs than was previously thought. The "Mike" thermonuclear device, weighing in at over 65 tons, was obviously impractical as a deliverable weapon, but within two years liquid deuterium and tritium would be replaced by a stable lithium deuteride powder resulting in a thermonuclear bomb that could be delivered by aircraft. This rapid development and testing of thermonuclear devices began to hint at the underlying truth about their practicality.

Both President Truman and Stalin realized towards the end of their tenure, what Robert Oppenheimer and his General Advisory Committee had already known. Thermonuclear weapons were so powerful that they could play no practical role in a military conflict between nations unless those nations using the weapons wished to also destroy themselves. President Truman left the office in January 1953 and two months later Joseph Stalin, the leader of the Communist World, died. The dilemma of the escalating arms race would now be left to new leaders to develop their own policies. Unlike Truman, the new United States President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, had first hand experience with the horrors of war. Strangely however, Eisenhower initially believed that while the nature of warfare had fundamentally changed since World War II, atomic weapons could be used in a military conflict. During the closing months of the Korean War he repeatedly consulted his advisers on how the United States might end the war by using atomic weapons. Historians argue that this may have been intended as a psychological tactic to encourage the North Koreans to accept a diplomatic solution. Nevertheless, it is apparent that Eisenhower felt nuclear weapons could be used effectively in war. He was quoted as saying "at any time these things can be used against strictly military targets and for strictly military purposes, I can see no reason why they shouldn't be used just exactly as you would use a bullet or anything else". President Eisenhower believed from the time of the beginning of his administration that the United States could not afford to get involved in future limited wars such as Korea without depleting America's economic and moral strength. Under his administration, The United States would respond to future threats of aggression with its full military capabilities; including the use of nuclear weapons.
(The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis, pp. 62-64)

1953 | Atoms for Peace

Simultaneously, and in contrast to his initial nuclear weapons policy, President Eisenhower addressed the General Assembly of the United Nations and delivered his "Atoms for Peace" speech. He declared that the United States would initiate a new policy to share nuclear technology for peaceful means with the international community. Eisenhower sought to bring atomic research under international control and thereby implement a level of transparency to the inevitable global proliferation of the Atom. Many countries, that had already begun their own atomic research programs, believed The United States sought to control the market for nuclear power reactors so as to prevent other countries from secretly developing nuclear weapons. The ongoing development of The United States nuclear arsenal, as well as increased tensions in the Cold War with the Soviet Union made this initiative difficult to implement. Nevertheless, the "Atoms for Peace" proposal would lay the groundwork for the charter of the International atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "Atoms for Peace" also resulted in the sponsorship by the AEC for the development of nuclear reactors in the United States to provide electric power. The first operational commercial nuclear power plant would open less than four years later in Shippingport Pennsylvania. Project development fell under the direction of Admiral Hyman Rickover, who also directed the development of the first nuclear powered submarine (USS Nautilus) for the U.S. Navy. At the opening ceremony for the Shippingport reactor, then AEC Chairman declared..." It is the commission's policy to give industry the first opportunity to undertake the construction of power reactors. However, if industry does not, within a reasonable amount of time, undertake to build types of reactors which are considered promising, the commission will take steps to the reactors with its own initiative."

In the following decades, with the support and encouragement of the AEC, American companies would build nuclear power reactors throughout the United States and export the technology to other countries without a complete knowledge of the inherent dangers of this new source of energy or the ramifications of nuclear proliferation.
(Encyclopedia of the Atomic Age by Rodney P. Carlisle; Editor pp. 28)

1954 | Operation Castle

Six months after Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" speech, a new series of nuclear weapons tests took place at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands that would result in a change of his atomic weapons philosophy. On March 1, 1954, the AEC began a series of six hydrogen bomb tests of new aircraft deliverable designs code-named "Operation Castle". The first detonation "Bravo" yielded a 15-megaton explosion that was much more powerful than expected. The blast blew a 500-meter wide crater in the northwest corner of the atoll and produced a radioactive mushroom cloud 20 miles high that was unexpectedly carried by winds 240 miles to the east. The cloud of radiation contaminated over 7000 square miles of the Pacific and several small islands with native populations had to be evacuated. Before the evacuations could occur, roughly 250 natives and 28 Americans were showered with radioactive fallout. In addition an unlucky Japanese tuna trawler named the "Lucky Dragon", was also the victim of heavy fallout from the radioactive cloud. The crew immediately experienced headaches, nausea and eye pain. Upon returning to port the ship was quarantined and the crew hospitalized. One of the crew members, Aikichi Kuboyama, fell into a coma shortly thereafter and died. The AEC blamed the Japanese trawler for being within the dangers zone of the test. Later, it also attempted to downplay the ramifications of the event refusing to take responsibility for the crew members death citing he died from the effects of hepatitis. The Japanese civilian population and its fishing industry made international objections to the incident and the ongoing testing in the Marshall Islands. Over 400,000 Japanese attended the funeral of Kuboyama and 30 million Japanese civilians signed a petition for the abolition of nuclear weapons.
(Bombs in the Backyard by A. Constandina Titus pp. 43-46)

The Soviet Union tested its first air dropped thermonuclear bomb in November 1955. The far-reaching consequences of thermonuclear weapons began to sink in and influence the philosophies of physicists and world leaders. After tests of the Hydrogen Bomb, top Soviet scientists reported that the detonation of 100 Hydrogen Bombs in a short period of time could create global conditions that would be impossible for life to exist on earth. Winston Churchill, the former, and now reinstated British Prime Minister expressed to President Eisenhower that even a few "Bravo" type explosions would leave Great Britain uninhabitable. Following Eisenhower's initial doctrine, his top military advisers and war planners had been developing methods for the use of nuclear weapons and military engagements. In a complete reversal of his previous policies, Eisenhower began to reject the concept of a limited nuclear war even before the beginning of a second term in an office. He now believed that if a major war between world powers came " you might as well go out and shoot everyone in the city and then shoot yourself". While this seemed completely contradictory to his earlier assertions, Eisenhower now realized that anyone foolish enough to fire a nuclear weapon at the enemy would also be aiming it at ones self. Armed with this new philosophy, he now believed the only way to prevent a nuclear confrontation between world powers was to prepare for total all-out, nuclear war thereby eliminating the possibility of a confrontation unless the powers involved were willing to destroy not only one another but all of civilization. This frightening concept became known as a policy of mutually assured destruction (MAD) and would plunge the United States and the Soviet Union into an unabated nuclear arms race that would bring civilization to the brink of annihilation.
(The Cold War: A New History by John Lewis Gaddis, pp. 65-68)