INT: Was there ever a moment when you were watching the bomb go off, was there a slight moment of doubt where you thought you might have got it wrong and it wasn't going to stop?
HA: No, I guess I always had great faith in the theorists. One particular thing that did happen that might have messed up the works and might have had a failure had to do with the trigger bomb and it's an interesting story. One of my class mates at Chicago, Marshal Rosenbluth ate too much the evening before, several evenings before... they fed you very well, that's one of the keys if you have only male individuals working on a project, away from home, feed them very well, steaks, strawberries, shrimps, everything and you don't have any problems, you don't have any problems with the workers if they're well fed. Well Marshal evidently ate too many shrimp and he couldn't sleep and he started to worry and he decided that the particular core we were going to use in the primary or the trigger for the Mike shot might have an unacceptable high probability of pre-detonation, pre-initiation in giving a fissile yield. So he conveyed this information to Carson Marks and more calculations were done and the core was changed. Now whether this needed to have been done or not, but it was another one of these (unintelligible) incidents that did take place.
INT: Was there a feeling though that you were changing world history at any time?
HA: I don't think many of us worried about that. We were more worried about the technical aspects of things. Lot of incidents happened. for some reason the military seemed to think there were spies in the lagoons, so all, they had all these guards around with all these guns and here we were with I don't know how many thousand gallons of liquid hydrogen, liquid deuterium, in these great big (unintelligible), you know, if someone had accidentally shot a bullet into one of those things, there'd have been a real mess. So we got concerned about that and pleaded with the powers that be to take all the guys away that had guns, get 'em out of our sight. If they wanted to worry about Russians and submarines, put 'em out on the beaches or some place, but get 'em our of our particular area. These were the sort of things we were worried about, not about the great political implications, the social world order in decades to come.
INT: Speaking about the protection, when we met earlier last month, you were telling me about certainly '49, '50, how they were guarded, nuclear weapons were guarded.
HA: In the early days, the arrangement, because of the arguments that had taken place between military control versus civilian control, the arrangement we had with the military was that the fissile material, the plutonium, the uranium, was kept by the Atomic Energy Commission people, whereas the actual assembly mechanisms, the bombs were kept by the military. And on every base there would be, of course, the aircraft in that for delivering the devices and they would have the high explosive assemblies, the bombs with the fins and all that, whereas in another part of the field, separated by a very strong fence with lots of guards, with igloos, inside the igloos were the fissile materials, handled by the Atomic Energy Commission people. And if and when there was to be an exercise, the Atomic Energy people would bring the required number of cores or whatever it was, to this gate and the military people on the other side and they would transfer the material and sign receipts and then the military (clears throat) with the aid of Atomic Energy people, would assemble the bombs and load them on the bombers and presumably take off.
INT: You said that it ended up with one person with a rifle guarding all these weapons.
HA: Well, what happened eventually was the time required to assemble bombs by hand was just too long, so when we deployed first to the United Kingdom and then eventually through NATO where essentially most of the NATO countries, Germany not France, France kept its own weapons, but Luxembourg Canada, Germany, United States of course, were all put on what was called Quick Reaction Alert, in Europe, at various airfields, and they all had United States' weapons. The bombs were ours, but the aircraft and delivery units were NATO units. And the rules were of course that the United States had to maintain custody of these particular weapons and the way this was maintained was that the aircraft were at the end of the runway, loaded with bombs with pilots on 'em, this was about a fifteen minute so-called Quick Reaction Alert, from the time that a siren went off, they were supposed to be airborne within less than fifteen minutes. But to prevent them from doing this on their own and to maintain this, what we called custody, there was a plain old American GI with a rifle and I remember the first time I went over with members of the Joint Committee to see this, I was sort of, well astounded, because in particular we were at a German base and here was this black cross on the side of the airplane - I was still young enough to remember that they had been the bad guys at one time - and here were these German airplanes, German pilots, our bomb on the thing and here's this poor guy with a rifle, all by himself on this German airfield. And I asked the guy, the soldier that we happened to talk to, I said, what are you supposed to do, and what are you going to do? Well, it wasn't clear to him what he was going to do. One thing he could do was shoot at the bomb and it would go off, which wasn't a very attractive option. And subsequent to that particular visit Don Carter, who had been Sand Air Corporation, when I came home, I explained to him what was happening, he happened to have been what we called a project engineer on a Mark 7 bomb, which was the first bomb which was externally carried and it's called an F47, F84F I guess was the airplane, and I told him, you know, this is really pretty bad, can't we do something about it, we must have sort of a lock or something where they can't use it unless they have the combination. Well, through the Sand Air Corporation, with Carter sort of taking the lead, we came up with what is now called the Permissive Action Link or PAL and we went before Joint Committees subsequent to our visit and demonstrated a very crude device to the Joint Committee, which would preclude any unauthorized use these weapons, either unauthorized by our people or by any of the NATO people. And so I think this one trip really paid off down the road and, of course, all of our weapons today have these Permissive Action Links or the equivalent, so that they cannot be used by the individuals who actually have them in their hands, but can only be used if they get the proper messages from a higher authority.
INT: Good answer. Coming back to now the tests out in the Pacific. Was there much of a competition between you and Livermore Laboratory?
HA: There certainly was! On the first, let's say, hydrogen bomb day tests Livermore, I can remember it was in nineteen, I think it was just when we started on the hydrogen bomb, it was like 1950, maybe '51 when they had actually helped us Herb York and his people in particular - he was the First Director at Livermore - had helped us in the diagnostics on our first thermo-nuclear weapon test and then it was decided that the effort was going to be so large that we really should have two laboratories working and we at Los Alamos were told to help them in every conceivable manner. Well, with some of us, this didn't go over very well. First we resented the implication that we couldn't handle it by ourselves and second, we didn't like the idea that all of our toil in developing codes, materials, equipment, we had to give it all to these Livermore guys, but our Director at the time, Norris Badray was very firm and said we are going to help them in every way we can and no monkey business. So we did, we gave them everything we had. Well, the challenge that Livermore had of course was to prove themselves and instead of let's say being sort of conservative and I will say copying the lead we had taken, they decided to go off on their own and much to our delight, everything they did fizzled. So that made us very happy. Subsequent to that, we got into the missile business and I remember General, who at the time was Colonel Schrieber, Arnie Schrieber who became our missile guy, for the airforce anyway, started the whole business of the missile for the airforce again Arnie could have gone much faster at the time, because they had gotten von Braun at Huntsville, under General Madieras, but politics were such, we could have... as an example, I'm going, we could have had a Sputnik like device much sooner had the army been allowed to proceed and actually eventually it was the army that did it anyway. But we had this competition between Livermore and ourselves as to who would provide the first warheads for the first missiles and this was Atlas, Jupiter and Thor, the first missiles. Thor was deployed, I think, in the UK Jupiter was Italy and maybe in Turkey. Anyway, we had this big competition and strange historical figures or prominent figures, my counterpart in I will say lying as to what we could do, salesmanship you might call it, technical salesmanship, was Harold Brown, who subsequently became Secretary of Defense and has been very prominent, President of Cal-Tech and things like that. Well, we won, you know... I think the warhead was called a Mark 49. So again we wiped Livermore in that. So the first missile warheads were Los Alamos warheads, in spite of Teller and all the great minds at Livermore. And it's been a very constructive, sometimes friendly, not so friendly, competition between the two laboratories. Today, I think we have about seven different warheads in our stock pile now, it's gone down tremendously and of those, five are Los Alamos. And if you look at the total number of our warheads, probably eighty per cent of the total stock pile of the United States is Los Alamos. So I think in tribute to the people of Los Alamos, they've done their job and now we have the problem of how do we comply with Start 1, Start 2, Start 3 and hope the Soviet Unions will, in the same spirit, do that now. We still are confronted, especially today, with what might be happening in China. We don't know the problems happening in Taiwan today. So I think it's important that we maintain a credible deterrent, but clearly the numbers that we've had in the past were excessive. But it's very hard to try to decide how many you really need.