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Martha Smith on: The Atomic Energy Commission's Response to the Bravo Test
Q: So there's considerable concern and protest around the world, in reaction to this beginning of this test series. What is the response of the Eisenhower Administration? How does the AEC and the Eisenhower Administration respond to this?

MS: Well, right from the very beginning, actually even before the Bravo tests, the Eisenhower Administration, the Atomic Energy Commission specifically has certain types of policies that they intend to use regarding these types of incidents. One of the policies is to keep the information about the tests as secret as possible. That's one of the directives that even goes out prior to Bravo, that you know, if there is any heavy fallout, that any personnel related to the project should not give out any information to the press, and keep it as secret as possible.

Once the tests-- the incident occurs, and information comes back to the Administration regarding the injured Japanese fishermen as well as the Marshall Islanders, then there is a lot of energy that's put into the relations with the ambassadors, for example, the Japanese Embassy. There's all kinds of information, telegrams that go back and forth between the State Department and the Japanese Embassy, basically an attempt to limit the publicity damage surrounding this incident, as much as possible. There are many other types of public relations strategies (I would call them) that are used in order to minimize the damage, try to downplay and, as I said, minimize the health and environmental impact of the tests.

Lewis Strauss, for example, the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, comes out and makes some public statements right after the test takes place. Not right after, but within a month after the Bravo incident occurs. He very specifically conveys a message that's intended not only for the American people but also for other people in different parts of the world. He definitely downplays the health and environmental impact of the test. He explains that he's visited the Marshall Islanders, and that they're actually well and happy. He says that the condition with regards to the Japanese fishermen, he is perhaps not quite as confident about their condition, but that he expects that they will all recover. And in general, during this public statement, he puts a lot of emphasis on the reasons why these tests are necessary.

That's another policy that the Administration uses, is not only to downplay the health and environmental impacts of the tests, but also to try to emphasize to Americans and to the rest of the world that these tests are really necessary for (as they put it) the peace and international security-- you know, the-- for the good of the peace-- not only national security, but the peace of the world, that these tests are necessary; that there might be some problems that come from incidents like this, but really the long-term gains are much more important than what might happen to the people that are in the Pacific.

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