Sunday, May 01, 2005

US fear of Norwegian nuclear weapons after WWII

It may sound ridiculous, but tiny Norway contemplated producing nuclear weapons at the same time as the Soviet Union, France and the United Kingdom. Norway played a central part in a critical phase of the history of nuclear weapons. Nazi Germany had a nuclear program based on heavy water from Rjukan in occupied Norway, which was eventually sabotaged and destroyed. It was fears of German nukes that triggered Einstein's famous letter to Roosevelt, and thus the initiation of the Manhattan Project:

The US feared that Norway would be developing its own nuclear weapons in the first years after the Second World War, and on two occasions the US put pressure on Norway to prevent this. This claim is put forward in an article by Chief of Research at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Olav Njoelstad. According to Njoelstad, US intelligence kept a very close watch on Norway in the first years of the cold war. The reason was Norway's unique position as the leading exporter of heavy water which was used in the development of nuclear energy, as well as Norway's pioneering role in this development, Aftenposten writes. Norway had already in 1951 its own nuclear research reactor at Halden, in south-eastern Norway.

2 Comments:

At May 03, 2005 3:23 PM, Anonymous Eirik said...

I was amused at reading the article in Aftenposten. That the editors chose the word "fear" in describing the American view on the possibility that Norway would go atomic-- is there a little bit of chauvenism involved here? Wouldn't a word like "concern" be more accurate- reflecting their attempt to prevent the spread of atomic weapons. Certainly that is something Norwegians would support.

 
At September 03, 2005 3:34 AM, Blogger Ron said...

Interesting, however US did not apparently stop UK or France from developing nukes, so I am not sure how concerned US would have been. Also, if war would have started with warsaw pact, and it went nuclear, Norwegian fighters would have been tasked with delivering some "instant sunshine" to the USSR.

 

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