Wednesday, 1 October 1975

Smyth Report, or: A General Account of the Development of Methods of Using Atomic Energy for Military Purposes, Published 1945

1944 The director of the Manhattan Project, Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, Jr., commissioned an official US government history and statement about the development of the bombs and the basic physics involved.  It was a statement also to other scientists about what information had been declassified.  It informed policy-making by giving the general public enough information to understand the new weapons.  The book described the development of previously secret labs and production sites.  The book did not treat chemistry, metallurgy, and ordnance.  

1944 Henry Smyth raised the idea of a public unclassified report about the Manhattan Project.  His Princeton department director took the idea to Harvard President, who had had the same idea, and who took it to Groves, who wrote Smyth a letter asking him to write such a report.  The work and author were approved May 1944 by the Military Policy Committee.  Groves provided guards, military couriers, and secretaries for Smyth's Princeton office, barred his windows, approved his research assistant, gave him security clearance to tour and interview the Project, and sent out letters to the senior managers explaining the Smyth's purpose.

In reviewing the draft, Groves' criticisms included that it was too technical, didn't sufficiently mention participants deserving (which he felt would lessen dangers of security breaches.  Chemists and metallurgists did write complaints to Smyth for being left out).  The revised draft was reviewed and censored by a scientific adviser and his two aids.  Grove obtained permission from the British and US governments (the Allies involved in the Project).  After a private 1000-run printing was made, final approval was given by Truman 3 days after Hiroshima.   The immediate release was authorized and the War Department released the 1000 copies.

Summer 1945 Smyth approached Princeton University Press' director about printing 5000 copies of a top secret report, which the director chose not to risk.  After the report was officially released, the director offered to publish it, but Smyth pursued McGraw-Hill.  McGraw-Hill found it boring and unprofitable, so Smyth turned back to Princeton University Press, on the condition Smyth receive no royalties.  Princeton University Press's condition was Grove's approval, obtained August 25 by letter.

1945 Oct. until 1946 Jan. the Smyth Report was on the NY Times best-seller list, and although booksellers had been initially wary of the technical volume, it sold 127 000 copies in its first 8 printings.  

Changes were made to the text early on.  Names were given instead of abbreviations, details about the height of atomic detonation reducing fallout were given, a not about the poison effect of fission products in production reactors was removed.  A 40-page report from the British government detailing its own involvement in the project was included in the 5th printing, and a 2-page Canadian report was added in a later printing.  

There was concern the report would give away secrets to the USSR.

The Soviet program used the report as a blueprint, copying American procedures, including the use of "secret cities" that disappeared from maps.    

Smyth's prefeace:

The ultimate responsibility for our nation's policy rests on its citizens and they can discharge such responsibilities wisely only if they are informed. The average citizen cannot be expected to understand clearly how an atomic bomb is constructed or how it works but there is in this country a substantial group of engineers and scientists who can understand such things and who can explain the potentialities of atomic bombs to their fellow citizens. The present report is written for this professional group and is a matter-of-fact, general account of work in the USA since 1939 aimed at the production of such bombs. It is neither a documented official history nor a technical treatise for experts. Secrecy requirements have affected both the detailed content and general emphasis so that many interesting developments have been omitted.

Grove's foreward:

All pertinent scientific information which can be released to the public at this time without violating the needs of national security is contained in this volume. No requests for additional information should be made to private persons or organizations associated directly or indirectly with the project. Persons disclosing or securing additional information by any means whatsoever without authorization are subject to severe penalties under the Espionage Act.

UN, Oct. 1945

The League of Nations organization, formed at the end of WWI, was incapable of preventing the aggression of Germany, Japan, and Italy, who withdrew from the pact.  After WWII the United Nations, which had been conceived as a replacement in 1939, did replace the LN.  The United Nations, a term used for the Allies, signed the Atlantic Charter in 1942, agreeing to anti-war and anti-oppression goals.  The UN Charter was completed Oct. 1945 at the conclusion of a 50-nation conference in San Francisco (where there were 400 meetings) begun months earlier.

The Charter's stated aim was to combine many nations to prevent other wars, uphold human rights, promote social welfare, and create liability to certain standards of justice.  The Charter included the Statute of the International Court of Justice which was created to settle without arms disputes between nations and other organizations.  The Court began work in 1946, succeeding to the Permanent Court of International Judgement, the LN court created in 1922.

Wednesday, 16 July 1975

Atomic Bombs

1939 the project to develop nuclear bombs, the "Manhattan Project," led by the US, supported by the UK and Canada (but not informing the other Ally Russia), taking place at 30 sites over the three countries, while gathering information on the German nuclear project and gathering German nuclear materials and scientists (and many other European exiles). The main priority was to produce fission-based explosives before Germany. It was the largest industrial enterprise ever at the time.

1945 July 16 America detonated a bomb code-named "Trinity". Truman, receiving news of the success, briefed Churchill and informed Stalin that America was in possession of a "powerful new weapon," which was no surprise to Stalin, who had spies in the Manhattan Project. July 26 an ultimatum was issued that Japan surrender or face "complete and utter destruction." 1945 Aug. 6 Truman gave permission for the world's first use of an atomic weapon on Hiroshima and on the 9th Nagasaki. After Hiroshima, Truman announced,

"We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war. It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth ..."

Aug. 9 Early morning word reached Tokyo that the Neutrality Pact with the USSR was over, as Moscow declared war on Japan and invaded Manchuria. Before noon Tokyo received word that Nagasaki had been bombed. After a day of debate over the terms of surrender, after midnight that night the Emperor is remembered to have stated,

"I have given serious thought to the situation prevailing at home and abroad and have concluded that continuing the war can only mean destruction for the nation and prolongation of bloodshed and cruelty in the world. I cannot bear to see my innocent people suffer any longer. ..."

It goes without saying that it is unbearable for me to see the brave and loyal fighting men of Japan disarmed. It is equally unbearable that others who have rendered me devoted service should now be punished as instigators of the war. Nevertheless, the time has come to bear the unbearable. ...

I swallow my tears and give my sanction to the proposal to accept the Allied proclamation on the basis outlined by the Foreign Minister."

The Privy Council Secretary was remembered to have asked, "Your majesty, you also bear responsibility for this defeat. What apology are you going to make to the heroic spirits of the imperial founder of your house and your other imperial ancestors?"

Aug 10 early the Foreign Ministry sent telegrams by way of the Swiss Federal Political Department announcing the acceptance of the Potsdam conditions of surrender, reserving only the prestige and rights of the Emperor. After more conventional bombing flights over Japan, the Emperor and his cabinet transmitted to their embassies in Switzerland and Sweden their notice of surrender on Allied terms

1946 Congress established the American Energy Commission and transferred control of nuclear projects from the military.

1949 Aug. 29 USSR detonated a bomb, the "Joe-1". Volunteer spies in the Manhattan Project had been informing Moscow of the progress of that project.  The Russians put their full efforts into their own atomic project. America had monopolized the best uranium reserves (in Belgian Congo). The first Soviet test surprised America, who predicted the Soviets would realize their bomb years later.  The test was reported to the world by Truman, when the Americans detected the fallout in Kazakhstan with the test-detection system they had secretly built on their WB-29 Superfortress.  The arms race and domestic persecution of political enemies increased and in 1950 Truman announced a speedy program to design a more powerful bomb, the hydrogen bomb (tested Nov. 1952, announced Jan. 1953, matched by the Soviet's Aug. 1953). 1951 China agreed to supply the USSR with uranium in exchange for nuclear technology (an agreement which faltered when the two countries started to fall out after Stalin's death).

1950 Apr. 10 Britain detonated a bomb.

1960 Feb. 13 France detonated a bomb, Berboise Bleue, in the middle of the Algerian Sahara Desert.

1964 Oct. 16 China detonated a bomb.

1967 (or thereby) Israel is believed to have possessed nuclear capability.

1974 May 18 India detonated a bomb.

1979 (possibly that date) South Africa detonated a bomb.

1998 May 28 Pakistan detonated a bomb.

2006 Oct. 9 North Korea detonated a bomb.