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ATOMIC BOMB FOR RUSSIA
In August 1949, Russian nuclear test director Marshal Beria appeared in the bunker of a control center, ten miles from the bomb. Dozens of Russian physicists waited for the result of the test in a shroud of fear at the secret testing ground.
“Here he is,” said the scientists nervously, watching the approaching car.
If the scientists did not succeed, an unavoidable fate waited for all the participants of the project. Stalin would kill the administrators and send the physicists to prison. Josef Stalin was prepared for such a contingency. He already had another team to replace this group of scientists.
At 7 A.M. a bright light pierced the morning clouds. A scarlet semicircle of an artificial sun began rising upon the firing range. When a mushroom-shaped cloud placed itself above the sky, a thundering noise reached the control center.
Having witnessed the successful explosion, Beria rushed to the chief scientist, kissed him and said, “Had it failed to blow up, this might have been a catastrophe for all of us!”
Then Marshal Beria directed a telegram to the Kremlin, “Dear comrade Stalin! Thanks to the efforts of the Soviet scientists and engineers your task to create a Soviet A-bomb has been completed. The construction of the A-bomb has been achieved due to your attention, concern and aid.”
The next day Stalin signed an order to reward the supervisor and the chief designer with a Medal of Honor, a cash bonus, houses and motor vehicles.
Other Soviet scientists were also given big gifts. Some intelligence officers were among the people who received awards.
At the ceremony Stalin told them, “The last war has given birth to a new generation of weapons, first the missiles and second the A-bomb. If we were late by a couple years the American bomb would have fallen upon us.”
* * *
A month after this event, the President of the United States was still in a bad mood. He was angry with the FBI. Now President Harry Truman had to inform his country and the entire world about the successful testing of a nuclear weapon in the USSR. The next day the headlines of American newspapers shouted:
RUSSIANS HAVE THE A-BOMB!
STALIN ENDS AMERICAN MONOPOLY!
The 65-year old commander-in-chief looked more like a modest bookkeeper in glasses, than a President of the most powerful country in the world. Truman was standing at the White House window, looking at the lawn. However, his appearance was deceptive to those who did not know him. This delicate man possessed a strong will and nerves of steel, having made the decision to bomb Japan with a nuclear weapon four years ago. Nervously tapping his fingers on the table, the President was waiting for the head of the FBI, whom he sincerely disliked.
- Edgar Hoover, a bulky man in contrast to his frail boss, always appeared in an elegant suit and was consistently punctual. Hoover’s colleagues noticed long ago that he had no interest in women, though he was always dressed meticulously. Now some American citizens who shared communist views were detected in the State Department and Truman was afraid that the Russians could find ways to infiltrate the FBI.
“If this is true, that he is a gay, then the FBI chief ,who is in charge of our national security, is an ideal candidate for the Soviets,” the President thought. “Hoover will fear publicity, and it would be possible for Russians to recruit him”.
Truman was thinking of firing Hoover. Besides that, it was reported that Hoover was considering running for president of the United States.
Hoover had arrived at the Oval Office. He instinctively took off his hat and set his tie straight, expecting a confrontational meeting but unaware of the extent of Truman’s anger.
“Well, Edgar, how will you explain the appearance of the Russian A-bomb? You have been commanding the FBI for 25 years. Who is the traitor? Oppenheimer? Teller? ” roared the President.
“I do not know. We cannot read their messages until we completely break the Russian code,” Hoover answered hanging his head in shame.
“Could it be Oppenheimer? Is it true, that he visited Moscow before WWII?”
“Actually we do not know, but Oppenheimer’s communistic views are well recognized. At first he approved the use of our A- bomb. Later however, he said that the very day the nuclear bomb is used, humanity will curse us.”
“I know that,” Truman gave a sarcastic smile. “Oppenheimer said to me that he and his associates saw “blood on their hands” after I bombed Japan. I told him that hands can be easily washed off in water. You see, Edgar, I’m not Roosevelt. I’m not going to lick Stalin’s boots. During Roosevelt’s meeting with Stalin FDR didn’t mention the future atomic project because he was afraid that he would have to reveal how to make the bomb to Stalin. Roosevelt was too naïve to believe that there could be cooperation between the two countries after the war, but my doctrine is to extend America’s sphere of influence around the globe. Our chief objective now is to fight communism. Of course, our forces in Europe can’t withstand the Russians, and Stalin can easily capture our military bases there. If you want peace, be prepared for war.”
“I must admit, Mr. President, we have some progress in decoding Russian messages, but not enough to identify thus far, who works for Russians,” whispered Hoover, who was not accustomed to such humiliation in front of his boss.
The news of the Russian success followed just a few weeks after the Chief of Intelligence and his friend raucously celebrated Hoover’s 25th anniversary at the FBI.
“Dear Edgar, you have always been recognized for your keen eye and ability to understand people. Maybe, you’re simply getting old and it may be time for you to have a break? Perhaps retire? You have convinced me, that if the Soviet physicists could create a bomb, it would happen not earlier than in six years. Was it not you who recently asserted that a nuclear weapon is so complicated and the calculations are so immense, that the realization of the project was possible only in the United States? In fact, you mentioned that the Russians do not have an established uranium industry or the required computers. Will you tell me which piece of your report on the Russian project is reliable?” the President asked, mockingly.
“A Special Committee deals with the atomic project in Russia. Stalin appointed Mr. Beria as the head of the project, and he remains the chief of Soviet Intelligence as well. Beria allocated approximately ten labor camps for this project. About 300 thousand political prisoners work for the nuclear program. A plant selected to be the control center is located in a small settlement with an unknown code name. The CIA confirms this information. This is all that we know.”
“Moscow denies that is has tested the nuclear weapon. Is that not strange?” Truman asked.
“They lie. We definitely know the bomb test was carried out,” the chief of the FBI reported. “Our pilots took samples of radioactive elements in the atmosphere. The scientists have determined that the Russian bomb is a copy of “Fat Man”, which was dropped on Nagasaki.”
“How many bombs does Russia have now? Zero? One? Several dozen? Do we have over two hundred?” raged the commander-in-chief.
“We have almost three hundred, Mr. President,” Hoover answered. “We can destroy hundreds of their cities.”
“I was informed that North Korea requested the Soviet Union’s support in invading South Korea,” the President said. “If that happens, I‘ll have to intervene, but I can’t use the bomb against the USSR, or against North Korea. I am now afraid of a reciprocal nuclear strike. Stalin deprived us of a nuclear monopoly! Do you understand this? In addition, they can now begin to accumulate an arsenal. I cannot believe that these provincials could so rapidly make such a sophisticated weapon! This could only have happened because of a leakage of information from our project. The Russians have stolen our invention! As far as I know, the Russians have received information about the German V-2 as well. I am afraid next time you’ll report that the Russians are on the Moon. Now it is no use to cry over spilt milk.”
“I agree, sir,” Hoover solemnly nodded.
“Now we have to pay more attention to the missiles. Future generations can carry a nuclear payload. Is that correct?”
“The first launch of the modernized V-2 was two years ago. The missile created by Wernher von Braun flew 150 miles and broke apart. It is not fit for Europe. Braun is busy with developing large missiles. Our Air Forces is working on a strategic missile by its own staff, particularly Captain Ed Hall. His missile flies further and carries twice a bigger payload than the V-2.”