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Episode 27-23

Oppenheimer's Untold Secret | How WWII Secret Agent Started Russian Cold War

Post Nazi Fun: Pushing the Soviets to Build The Bomb & Starting a Cold War

Archived Video & Audio

Guest(s): Dave Lindorf - Investigative reporter and author, Thomas Reifer - Professor of sociology at the University of San Diego and associate fellow at the Transnational Institute

When the subject of the movie, Ted Hall, Arrived at Los Alamos in Jan. 1944, he was put to work on refining the complicated implosion system needed to detonate the plutonium bomb. As he did that work through that summer, it became clear to him and many other scientists that Germany was not going to get the bomb. The war was going oo badly for them.

While scientists like Niels Bohr and Leo Szilardvainly  tried to get the government to stop the program or to bring the Russians on instead of keeping it secret from a major ally in the war against the Nazis, Ted decided to act.. on his own.

His hope was that with that standoff, the bomb would be banned, like gas after WWI. Instead, it created Mutually Assured Destruction, but frightening as that has been, it still has given us 78 years so far of no atom bomb being used in war. Ted, an anti-hero, also messed up Truman's plans for a 400-nuke first strike on Soviet cities, preventing an unimaginable holocaust.

Then, Sociologist, THOMAS REIFER, from the University of San Diego and associate fellow at the Transnational Institute, tells us (summarized here) "Unfortunately, the film doesn’t take the time to go into the period of U.S. testing of the H-Bomb, which along with the earlier atomic explosions, spread radioactive waste, and led to the infamous Lucky Dragon incident, about a month and a half before Oppenheimer’s security hearing depicted in the film. On March 1, 1954, the U.S. exploded an H-bomb at Bikini in the South Pacific, and Japanese fishermen, though outside the no-sail zone, were all sickened by radioactive ash and hospitalized, with one dying within days. This was at a time when Lewis Strauss was President Eisenhower’s Atomic Energy Commission Chair, and advisor on nuclear weapons, from which he orchestrated the destruction of Oppenheimer’s reputation, with the help of the father of the H-bomb, Edward Teller, and the Strategic Air Command of the U.S. Air Force under Curtis LeMay. The Lucky Dragon incident, not to mention the fate of downwinders from the Pacific Islands, the U.S. and more, shows the urgency of movements to dismantle our current doomsday machines which can trigger a nuclear winter. They highlight too, the dangers of nuclear-armed military alliances, aggressive war and the escalation of current conventional wars and preparations for war with China, that risk a nuclear holocaust.”

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