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Thoughts on peace (Part 1)


The importance of accuracy in American defense
Edward Teller Scientist
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The proposal is to use accuracy as it was used in Biblical times by David's brilliant pebble that hit Goliath in the forehead. This is something where we hope and believe in a very effective way to be ahead of the Soviets and to remain ahead of the Soviets, where we rely on high technology, on accuracy, then the basis of that in the United States is probably stronger and better than anywhere in the world. Of course the remarkable modern fact is, the great good news is that at least at the moment the Communists are no longer ruling Russia. That may change. They may come back. If they do, I hope at any rate not as viciously as in the past. But here is a point which I would like to emphasize: at the end of the Second World War the democracies disarmed. They had to disarm, public opinion would not tolerate the great expenditure of arms in peacetime. Stalin did not disarm therefore it was quite clear that Stalin had to win. Of course we know he didn't and I think we should know, we should realize the obvious; he didn't win because modern developments shifted emphasis from masses of conventional weapons operated by a great number of people, into new weapons, nuclear weapons, and very particularly weapons of increasing accuracy. It became very clear, for instance in discussions in Reykjavik not so many years ago, between Reagan and the Soviets, that the Soviets were really worried about American defenses. Why? Because they knew that in accurate defenses the United States was apt to win. There can be a difference of opinion to what extent high American technology in nuclear weapons, in accurate defensive weapons, how much all this contributed to the Cold War, to the end of the Cold War, to the United States winning the Cold War. You may find difference of opinion how important it was - there cannot be any difference of opinion that it was very important, and that without advanced technology the world of today would be, today, a very different and more dangerous place. All this is something of unusually great importance.

The late Hungarian-American physicist Edward Teller helped to develop the atomic bomb and provided the theoretical framework for the hydrogen bomb. During his long and sometimes controversial career he was a staunch advocate of nuclear power and also of a strong defence policy, calling for the development of advanced thermonuclear weapons.

Listeners: John H. Nuckolls

John H. Nuckolls was Director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory from 1988 to 1994. He joined the Laboratory in 1955, 3 years after its establishment, with a masters degree in physics from Columbia. He rose to become the Laboratory's Associate Director for Physics before his appointment as Director in 1988.

Nuckolls, a laser fusion and nuclear weapons physicist, helped pioneer the use of computers to understand and simulate physics phenomena at extremes of temperature, density and short time scales. He is internationally recognised for his work in the development and control of nuclear explosions and as a pioneer in the development of laser fusion.

Duration: 5 minutes, 26 seconds

Date story recorded: June 1996

Date story went live: 29 September 2010