The Development Of Nuclear Energy During The Cold War

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The development of nuclear energy during the Cold War


For miles of years the human being has been interested in the structure and composition of the subject. The Atomist theory is attributed to Democritus of Abdera, which maintains that the universe is formed by combinations of indivisible particles or atoms and the void, which promotes different combinations of these particles and allow the formation of different entities.

The first scientific -based atomic model was published by the English physicist and chemist John Dalton at the beginning of the S. XIX, which today is the basis of modern physical science. The experimental test of this theory had to be postponed until the end of the S. XIX, giving as erroneous the hypothesis that affirmed the indivisibility of the atom.

The fact that the complexity of the structure of the atom conferred the division capacity has already been maintained by William Prout in 1815, gradually accepted due to the various research on electromagnetism of Michael Faraday, the elaboration of the periodic tables of chemical elements by Dimitri Mendeléyeveyevand Lothar Meyer and X -rays for Wilhelm Röntgen

Throughout this scientific outcrop, Frédéric and Irene Joliot-Curie began to study a phenomenon discovered by Henri Becquerel in 1896, who detected that uranium salt emitted a very penetrating radiation. They called this "radioactivity" and realized that it was an elementary property of the atom, not a chemical reaction, and that it was characteristic of the nuclei. In 1898 they discovered two new minerals with greater radioactive load than uranium: polonium and radius, testing the latter on their skin and finding that it burned it. These were the beginnings of treatments against malignant tumors and the reason why they received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903.

After the discovery of the electron (which confirmed that there are also particles with positive load, due to the stability of the atom), the proton and the neutron, John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton managed to disintegrate an atomic nucleus with subatomic particles by accelerating them artificially.

The scientific advance in the field began to be fueled. After the investigations began in 1934 by Enrico Fermi on how to bomb. Achieving the nucleus produced what was called at that time – and as it is known today – nuclear, phenomenon that is characterized by the release of a large amount of energy.

At the end of the 1930s, the US was erected as the maximum scientific power, largely due to the entry of many European researchers fleeing fascism beyond the seas. When he realized his arms possibilities, Leó Szilárd, a representative of these refugees, asked Albert Einstein to write a document where Roosevelt warned about the high possibility of carrying out a chain reaction not much no later than the application for the application for theManofacture of pumps of enormous power and that it was convenient for the State to show its support (including the economic) to the scientific community dedicated to this matter.

The war period immediately after this, known as World War II

  • Cold War

At the end of World War II the world was divided into two large blocks: the communist bloc and the capitalist bloc. Throughout four decades they maintained an economic, diplomatic, ideological and military war.

Yalta’s conference began the Cold War, took place between February 4 and 11, 1945 and ended the Great Alliance. This conference talked about the control of the territories by the USSR and the two great powers of the West.

After the defeat of Germany the winning powers met from July 17 to August 2, 1945, this conference was starring Stalin, Truman and Clement Attlee to discuss the strategy to continue with the defeated country, as well as the distribution of territories in theNew world scenario. In the US they aimed to expel the USSR of the Mediterranean for long -term strategies. The US entrusted England to protect Greece and Turkey from the communist movements that were increasingly strength. Stalin, meanwhile, exerted pressure by placing troops on the east borders of the Turkish territory to give it naval bases. In 1947 England announces that it cannot, for economic reasons, keep the troops in the territories of Greece and Turkey, this causes the need for Truman, which has the possibility of losing the elections, of asking 400 billion dollars to the congress to helpGreece and Turkey with the argument that the domino effect does not occur and communism extends, resulted in repressive governments. The Truman doctrine distinguished between the ‘free’ people and the ‘non -free’ people. The non -free people are the enemy of the free people and you have to defend themselves against it. On the communist side it was a similar reaction against the capitalists.

Virtually all nations are forced to opt for two different ways of life … one of the possible ways of life is based on the will of the majority, and is distinguished by the free game of institutions, by the representativeness of the government, byThe call for free elections, for guaranteeing individual freedom, freedom of word and worship, and for the total absence of political oppression. Another way of life is based on the will of a minority imposed by force of the majority. It relies on terror and oppression, in the suppression of individual freedoms … The policy of the United States must be to support free peoples that fight against the yoke that is intended to be imposed by the action of armed minorities or by pressuresexterior

Speech by US president H. Truman (later became the doctrine of the same name) to the American Congress on March 12, 1947. This speech aim. In Greece a civil war was developed between a pro-western conservative government and communist guerrillas and Turkey had been under Soviet pressure. Appointment in Gaddis, op. Cit. pp. 401.

  • Armament career

The arms race consisted that the two great winning powers of World War II develop the best possible weapons as well as the expansion of their political systems.

Having nuclear weapons under the power of a nation increases its power. Somehow the strength of these destructive weapons became a dissuasive power that avoided the direct confrontation of the USSR and the United States.

As a result of the competition, both states developed in the fifty intercontinental long -range missiles, whose technology was closely linked to space achievements.

With the first attack with nuclear bombs on civil population in 1945 on Japan by the United States, the door opens towards a new era, it was known that it was not the end of the war, but that it was the premonition of what would happen next,A new era where the fear of a nuclear war whose consequences would be devastating for a lifetime on the planet due to the effects of radiation will predominate.

Already in 1946 the debate on the use of nuclear weapons opens, when in the UN General Assembly it is about creating a treaty to end the manufacture of pumps and also destroy the existing ones. The USSR rejects it because the United States does not compromise.

Far from committing, in July 1946, nuclear tests begin at the bikini atolon. For the first time in history, the civilian population and the press are invited to attend the tests.

Thus the Operation Crossroad begins, in Spanish crossroads, where nuclear tests were carried out on more than one hundred ships of the American fleet, many of them German and Japanese ships captured in the war. What seemed first a success for the fleet, because only a few ships were sunk, a problem was a reality, since all ships ended up contaminated with radioactive water and therefore were poisonous for the military who manned them.

Nuclear tests do nothing but increase in number and therefore the Los Alamos laboratory in New Mexico, where the Manhattan project had been developed, develop new pump production techniques without having to be manually assembled as until then it had been done .

The USSR, meanwhile had begun its nuclear plan in 1943. Igor Kurchatov would be the head of scientific research. The United States believed in its military and scientific supremacy, and it is possible that in what to the military respect, but not in the scientist, because the USSR did everything possible to end the US nuclear monopoly. Also thanks to the Soviet Espionage Net. The bomb had the same design as the pump ”Fat Man‘ used by the United States in Japan, unlike this pump corrected some errors that the Soviet considered that the price and risk of failure increased.

This first test caught everyone by surprise, as it was unexpected and at the same time lived in fear in the United States as they had lost monopoly as mentioned above. Under the presidency of Harry Truman in the United States in 1950 and in response to the development of the nuclear pump by the Soviets, the United States authorizes the development of the hydrogen pump also called thermonuclear pump. It is at this time when a large -scale arms escalation begins.

There is a militarization process where everyone, even the civilian population must be prepared.

In the United States, panic starts and the civilian population begins to instruct how to act against a nuclear attack. This results in the construction of personal nuclear shelters, the citizen’s survival does not depend on the government, but depends on itself. With this model a persuasion policy is created where it is implied that it is useless to create nuclear bombs if the population is prepared to survive it.

In 1952 the first thermonuclear bomb was proven, six hundred times more powerful than the one that fell on Hiroshima. However, this first test was still far from being practical, as a complex installation of buildings was needed to perform the test. Nine months later, the USSR makes its first thermonuclear essay, less powerful but at the same time practical because it did not need buildings and could be thrown from an airplane.

In 1954, the United States would create its first portable thermonuclear bomb, which had twice as many effects of what was expected, affecting six hundred islanders and causing the death of a Japanese who was in his fishing boat.

The competition within the United States Army, between the Navy, the aviation and the army make the arsenal expand and diversify, moving from the thirteen bombs that were in 1947, to the more than 1100 in 1953.

The consequences of all this panorama did not create more than a terrifying confrontation and a very tense environment between both blocks.

In 1961, and after voluntary abstention of both of nuclear tests for two years, the then leader of the USSR, Nikita Jrushchov resumes the tests by exploding the largest bomb so far, the Tsar Tsar. A really very symbolic bomb that only tried to demonstrate the military power of the USSR, as it would have been the same to detonate two smaller bombs.

With the triumph of the Cuban revolution in 1959, these were approaching positions with the USSR. The Cuban Revolutionary Government had an anti -capitalist policy and above all antiestadounidense, so they underwent a commercial embargo from the United States. Thus, Nikita Jrushchov decides to deploy missile. The border with the USSR.

Thus one of the most tense moments of the Cold War is given, when President Kennedy prepares a naval block on the island which is tried to be crossed by Soviet merchant ships. The Pentagon proposes to attack immediately. On October 27, an American recognition plane was shot down that flew over Cuba, and that is when there is a 24 -hour period to remove missiles. Both leaders reach an agreement and the Soviet missile.

This crisis, which was closer to what people believe having triggered a global catastrophe, highlighted the need to ban nuclear weapons. Nine months later, the United States, England and the USSR sign the Partial Prohibition Treaty of Nuclear Tests that prohibits all nuclear tests except underground.


What began in 1963 with the Partial Prohibition Treaty of Nuclear Testles, continued to be developed in 1986, when Gorbachev, leader of the USSR, and reagnIn the end it is impossible, because the main stumbling block is the space technology of the United States, technology from which the USSR did not have, and in case of nuclear demilitarization, the USSR would be very exposed when it is technologically delayed and without nuclear armament.

In 1990, the USSR dissolved and with it also the most dangerous confrontation in history. The war forced politicians to understand that war could not win, which would only be losers and more than two billion dead.

Before the missile crisis in Cuba, protests had already occurred against nuclear tests. In 1992, the United States ends all tests. This was largely guided by the same population, very aware of nuclear danger thanks to a wide film propaganda that highlighted the horrors of a hypothetical nuclear war.  

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