By: The Associated Press
The Board of Directors for an unnamed project led jointly by the United States and Britain met yesterday to discuss various matters that are impeding the development of an atomic bomb that will be used to fight the Axis powers.
In 1931, the worldwide scientific community discovered that physicists in Germany had discovered how to split uranium atoms. This discovery gives Germany the materials and knowledge needed to create an atomic bomb. If an atomic bomb was successfully made and utilized by Germany, it would be catastrophic.
In order to combat this development, a nuclear research committee was implemented to protect allied powers from the Axis powers.
The Board of Directors of this committee have been meeting in order to propose solutions for the current issues surrounding a project to create an atomic bomb, including the location for the construction of the bomb and the procurement of adequate amounts of quality uranium.
Currently, the possible locations for the construction of the bomb are being heavily disputed.
Many directors, including President Roosevelt and Donald Nelson, are advocating for the bomb to be built in the United States. They are of the opinion that United States can have more control over privacy and therefore can ensure the secrecy of this project. They believe that it will be harder to bring spies into the U.S. unnoticed. The United States is not abundant in quality uranium, but its neighbour, Canada, has large deposits in the Northwest Territories. Having the bomb made on U.S. soil would easily allow for the transport of uranium and would help to maintain full secrecy and classification. It was also suggested by multiple directors that having the project based in the United States would heighten the efficiency of the project.
The United Kingdom was deemed by many to be too close to the Axis powers to be a viable location for the construction of the bomb.
Other locations suggested included Australia, the U.S.S.R, and the Belgium Congo.
I spoke to Enrico Fermi, a director advocating for these construction in these countries, and asked what Australia and Russia have that the United States is lacking. His reponse is as follows:
“So, first of all, the reasons why we were originally looking to Russia and Australia is because of their neutral locations. At the beginning of the committee board meeting, we had some nationalistic tensions on both sides, the United States mainly against Great Britain, Churchill and Roosevelt maybe wanting to pull for their posting of the project. So my reason was, that there had been uranium deposits found in each one of those countries and the fact that they are neutral and it could be agreed upon by both parties.”
Working Paper 1.2 also supported the proposition of building the bomb in Australia. Sir John Anderson, however, stated that Australia has a geographical disadvantage and lacks uranium deposits of the appropriate caliber. Fermi rebutted this, stating that although there are not main deposits in Australia, there are some very small deposits that could result in high quality, enriched uranium. Directors including Donald Nelson and Dr. Robert Oppenheimer also suggested that moving the project to Australia would be expensive and would require a great adjustment. Dr. Oppenheimer believed this adjustment would enhance the inefficiency of the project and have a negative effect on the work done.
The U.S.S.R was also suggested as a viable option by many directors. Enrico Fermi stated that the U.S.S.R’s “desolate” location and deposits of uranium would be very helpful to the project. Russia is an allied country and talks of including allied countries had been discussed earlier in the meeting.
President Roosevelt was very opposed to the move to the U.S.S.R as he stated that the project must be kept in countries with Western ideologies. Leo Szilard also opposed, declaring that we do not know Russia’s intentions beyond the war which could pose a threat to us in the future. Edward Teller also reminded directors that it would be costly to transport uranium to Russia as it is geographically distant and suggested that Canada is a better ally as “they are of the same ethnic group and are closer”.
The Congo was also briefly suggested as there are many relatively unknown countries in Africa that have quality uranium deposits that could be utilized. However, Edward Teller again brought up the expenses to transport products and materials needed to Africa.
At the time of this article a consensus has not been reached.