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The Nuclear SpiesAmerica's Atomic Intelligence Operation against Hitler and Stalin$
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Vince Houghton

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781501739590

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501739590.001.0001

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Whistling in the Dark

Whistling in the Dark

The U.S. (Mis)Perception of the Soviet Nuclear Program

(p.151) 6 Whistling in the Dark
The Nuclear Spies

Vince Houghton

Cornell University Press

The sixth chapter discusses the reasons the United States Government did not consider the Soviet atomic bomb program an immediate national security threat. In contrast to their beliefs about German science, many American scientists and some within the civilian and military leadership regarded Soviet science as institutionally backward, and many of its scientists as intellectual inferiors. Other key players in American leadership, including Leslie Groves, argued that the Soviet Union did not have the industrial capabilities to manufacture an atomic bomb in less than 20 years. Regardless of the reasoning (whether it was an indictment of Soviet science, Soviet industry, or the Soviet system), the people in the positions of power in the United States almost universally assumed they had time to build an effective atomic intelligence system, and do so before the Soviets made much of that system obsolete.

Keywords:   American atomic intelligence, Cold War, Soviet atomic bomb program, atomic weapons, Leslie Groves, Soviet science, Soviet industry, Soviet system

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