MOSCOW, September 17. /TASS/. Soviet intelligence agents couldn’t have ‘stolen’ nuclear weapons in the 1940s because without fundamental scientific developments this data would have been useless, Mikhail Kovalchuk, the president of the Kurchatov Institute that created the first Soviet nuclear bomb in 1949, said on Tuesday.
"Very often, we have to hear that we stole the bomb and that’s why we were able to make it," Kovalchuk told a roundtable commemorating the 70th anniversary of when the first Soviet nuclear bomb was tested. The head of the institute stressed, "Back then, we already had longtime traditions of fundamental science and we have them now."
According to the head of Russia’s leading research center in the field of nuclear energy, these traditions helped the Soviet Union successfully fulfill its nuclear project, which had begun during the challenging years of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945).
He emphasized that the USSR had picked the correct strategic path.
"When a strategic priority goal is achieved, it is tantamount to launching a civilization centuries ahead of itself, thereby shaping its society for decades and even centuries to come," Kovalchuk said, explaining that a basis for fundamental research was needed to reach this goal.
The Kurchatov Institute’s head pointed out that the Third Reich had renowned rocket engineer Wernher von Braun, but Germany still failed to produce its own nuclear weapons. On the other hand, the Soviet Union produced groundbreaking nuclear innovations, building the world’s first nuclear power station in 1954, the first nuclear submarine in 1958 and the first nuclear-powered icebreaker in 1959.
"Fundamental scientific research, backed by intelligence data, provides crucial interaction. <...> Intelligence acted as a navigator along a stormy sea," Kovalchuk explained.