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Citizen Kurchatov: Stalin's Bomb Maker


Director Kurchatov

Molotov and StalinStalin instructed Molotov to find out if a bomb was possible. He wanted to ask Soviet scientists if they thought Russia could build one. Many scientists, including Kapitsa, said that it was possible, but very expensive and would take at least ten years. Stalin thought it was worth starting a project, but on a small scale in case it didn't work.

Kaftonov, in charge of keeping tabs on science for the State Defense Committee, consulted with Ioffe on who should lead the scientific investigation. Ioffe recommended Kurchatov and another physicist as two qualified candidates. Kurchatov was the youngest and least experienced, but Kaftonov was impressed by his manner and recommended him as director. Later, Molotov met Kurchatov and agreed that he should be assigned as director.

Immediately after he was chosen, Kurchatov began a list of potential team members and inquired into their availability. He felt the weight of responsibility, and he understood the consequences if he failed.

Kurchatov was also shown the MAUD Committee report. He was impressed with the research, but he said that Soviet scientists were already thinking along the same lines. He also thought the stolen report could help them, but he didn't trust it completely. Everything would need to be checked by the Soviet scientists.


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