Memoirs: A Twentieth-Century Journey in Science and Politics

By Edward Teller; Judith L. Shoolery | Go to book overview

40
STRATEGIC DEFENSE
1980-1992

IN DECEMBER 1945, in my report to the U.S. Navy, I emphasized the need for defense against atomic weapons. During the summer of 1951, I attended a conference in Pasadena, sponsored by the air force, for a few weeks. 1 Among the topics under consideration were low-yield nuclear weapons and strategic defense. The study that eventually came out of the conference recommended for tactical nuclear weapons and against trying to pursue strategic defense.

Even at that early date, the development of intercontinental rockets was on the horizon. The obstacles to developing defense posed by a combination of rockets and nuclear weapons seemed insurmountable. Then, in 1961, as I mentioned earlier, following a tour of the Strategic Air Command facilities outside Colorado Springs, General Partridge convinced me that I should at least consider the problem of defense seriously. That in turn led, in 1967, to the Livermore laboratory's developing and testing the effectiveness of using nuclear explosives to counter incoming missiles. Governor Ronald Reagan was introduced at that time to the idea of a ballistic missile defense system. 2

In 1980, Ronald Reagan ran for president. I campaigned for him, making speeches around the country and serving as the chairman of Hungarian‐ Americans for Reagan. Martin Anderson, one of my friends at Hoover, also worked hard on Reagan's campaign. He was with Reagan during a tour of

____________________
1
That conference was called the Vista Project. I believe that I was involved through the Rand Corporation, where my two friends, Dave Griggs and Albert Latter, worked.
2
Although the defensive system—on which both Los Alamos and Livermore had worked— was technically significant and was deployed at an ICBM field, it was decommissioned in 1976 for lack of funding.

-525-

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