INT: Very interesting - excellent answer. Without being trite, is it true to say then that specifically during the Fifties, and then into the Sixties, when all the tests were going on in the Pacific and in Nevada, and the Russians started testing, it had almost become... I'm thinking of tcompetition that existed at that period between the Lawrence Livermore Laboratories in Alamos - it almost became a game to see who could get the bigger bang done.
JR: Unfortunately, what you have said is true. Once you begin to go into this game... (Coughs)... once you begin to work on this sort of work, then you lose, I should say moral values about it. You became engrossed in dealing with gadgets, you begin to invent new and new gadgets. And the arms race was actually mostly a game between scientists on both sides. If you take the scientists in Los Alamos or Livermore, their job was all the time to make sure that the weapons, the weapons they made, were getting perfected all the time, while the weapons of the other side can be destroyed. Therefore it worked on both sides. But the same applies, of course, to the scientists who worked in [Azimas] or Chelyabinsk; they tried exactly the same. Therefore we have this race going on between the two. And what it meant indeed was an accumulation of enormous numbers of warheads, well beyond any possible use of them. I mean, at one stage they ended up with something like... more than 70,000 warheads, nuclear warheads, quite apart from another 30,000 in reserve. This is about... at least 100 times more than conceivable use for deterrent purposes. But this is the problem: once you've started a race, you can't stop it.
INT: Excellent answer. Can I take you back a bit then, sir, to 1954, when the first test that really became public knowledge, that became... not public knowledge... (Overlap)... the Bravo test, I was thinking of. Can you tell me a little bit about what you knew of it and what your reaction was to that?
JR: Well, by '54 I was completely out of the game. You see, I decided already in 1944, 10 years before, that I don't want to have anything to do with nuclear weapons. And indeed, one outcome of my involvement during the war years, was I decided to change my line of research, so I went into medical physics. I felt this is a field where I could see the application of my knowledge directly; I could use it for the treatment of cancer patients and so on. Therefore I was quite happy with this work, to be away from nuclear weapons. But as a result somehow of this... my work in medicine, I began to think what is the effect of radiation if you want to cure cancer, for example. So therefore I began to study the mechanism of the action of radiation on the organism, and I became a little bit of an authority on the biological effects of radiation. And then came the Bravo test, where one of the first large hydrogen bombs, a 50-megaton bomb, was exploded; and somehow the wind changed direction, we are told, and the fallout came down and showered a Japanese vessel, the Lucky Dragon - it was very unlucky, as it was. And in fact the explosion was so much that one of them died, one of the crew of this fishing boat. But they collected data about the type of radiation. And I was attending a conference on radiation biology, on the effects of radiation, and I met a Japanese scientist who collected the data, and I was interested about this from the point of view of radiation effects at that time, and not rather from the weapon itself, and he gave me his data. And I looked at them, and somehow I find they didn't at all agree with what [Ouve] had told about the hydrogen bomb, because what Ouve had told was that the hydrogen bomb is a thousand times more powerful in its blast effect, a thousand times more powerful in the heat it produces, but not in radiation: radioactivity is not changed, not more than the fission bomb - this is what we were told, that it was what you call now a clean bomb, if you like. But when I looked at the data given to me by my Japanese colleague, I could see they didn't agree at all with this concept. Therefore I began to think about it. And gradually I came to the conclusion that the bomb was a very dirty bomb; and I worked out what sort of structure the bomb had. It was not a two-stage, which we used to think before - namely, you use fission to trigger the thermonuclear nuclear reaction, the fusion, a fission/fusion bomb. I arrived at the conclusion it was a three-stage bomb: fission/fusion/fission. In other words, from the thermonuclear stage, from the second stage, you produce more particles, you produce more fissions, a very large am... In other words, the total radioactivity is also increased by nearly a thousandfold. And therefore I felt, if this is the case, then the fallout from the test could be quite dangerous, and I thought it my duty to inform the public, because I could see more and more tests are being carried out. And then came a statement from the Atomic Energy Commission in the United States, to say "Don't worry about the fallout: it's no more than you get from a chest X-ray." Now I happened to know how much you get on a chest X-ray, and I became very much alarmed. And therefore I decided that really I must do something about it; and although there were efforts to stop me from publishing this, nevertheless I did publish it. And this caused... I remember at the time the press or the media took it up, you see, and this is where people began really to worry about the effects of testing in the atmosphere, and which gradually led to mass movements starting against the atmospheric tests. And eventually even the American and the British Government decided that it's dangerous to carry out the tests, and then came the Partial Test Ban Treaty.
INT: So... could you tell me a bit about how you became involved, and how Bertrand Russell originally became involved?
JR: My own encounter with Bertrand Russell goes back to the story which I have just mentioned: namely that... I met him first on a BBC television programme, at one of the earliest Panorama programmes, where I was asked to speak about the hydrogen bomb, about the physics, and then a number of other people were invited to speak about the military, strategic and also theoretical aspects. And this is where Bertrand Russell had a heated debate with the then Archbishop of York. And this is where we I met him for the first time; and he listened to what I had said before, and he sort of used me as a vehicle to inform him about the effects of the bombs, of the explosions. This is how I became to know him. And when I told him about what I deduced about the structure of the bomb, he became very worried, both about the radiation hazards from the effect, but even more so about the effect of a nuclear war if these bombs are actually being used in nuclear war. And then he was invited to give a broadcast on radio in Christmas 1954; this is the Christmas broadcast which he called 'Man's Peril', in which he drew a picture of what is going to happen if we have a nuclear war. And then, following this, he felt that it's the duty of scientists to do something about it, to see how they, who are responsible for bringing this about, what they can do to help mankind to prevent such a catastrophe. And he got in touch with Albert Einstein, who was at that time the greatest living scientist, and asked him whether he will support such an effort, to have a conference of scientists to discuss these matters. Einstein immediately accepted this; he said "Yes" enthusiastically. He told Russell, "Would you please draft a proper statement, which we can then use to call on the scientists to get together in a conference." So Russell did this, sent it to Einstein. And then Russell told me this story, that he happened to fly at that time from Rome to Paris, when the pilot announced he's just been informed that Einstein had died. This was on the 17th of April 1955. And Russell was shattered, because he felt that without the support of Einstein, the whole project will fall through. But when he arrived at his hotel in Paris, there was a letter forwarded to him from London from Einstein, with his signature to this. And this is almost the last act of Einstein's life. This is the reason why this statement... which is now called the "Russell-Einstein Manifesto", because [it was] started by Russell and endby Einstein. And this was then issued in July '55 to the press, and this was the first sort of call to scientists really to get together to see what can do to avert the danger.