"The Radiance of a Thousand Suns"
DEVELOPMENT OF THE ATOMIC BOMB DURING WORLD WAR II
BETWEEN DECEMBER 1942 AND JULY 1945, American scientists and engineers built two uranium type and one plutonium type atomic bombs. By spending the then astronomical sum of two billion dollars, the nuclear community, working in total secrecy, constructed an enormous isotope-separation plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee; a plutonium-production plant at Hanford, Washington; and a bomb laboratory at Los Alamos, New Mexico. At these sites, scientists, engineers, technicians, and working people labored under a blanket of tight security to launch the nuclear age.
During these years, the basic characteristics of Nuclear America emerged: nuclear power's intimate ties to the national security state, and the subordination of nonmilitary applications of nuclear power to military demands. The arms race mentality was spawned in this period too, out of the pressure scientists and policymakers alike felt about beating the Germans to the bomb. At the same time that nuclear weapons were becoming a reality in the laboratory, what George Kennan has described as "the nuclear delusion" was forming in the minds of America's political leadership. Increasingly, Presidents Roosevelt and Truman as well as those around them came to view nuclear weapons as some sort of panacea that would provide a cheap solution to the challenges and frustrations they encountered in conducting foreign relations. Finally, the nuclear-industrial complex was born, tying universities, the institutions that were to become the National