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Istoricul american Larry Watts lansează sâmbătă, 27 mai 2023, ora 13, la standul Editurii Rao de la Bookfest, cea mai recentă lucrare a sa, apărută momentan în original, în limba engleză, din care ActiveNews redă în exclusivitate o serie de extrase mai jos cu o scurtă introducere în limba română. Aceastea sunt reproduse chiar din carte așa că notele se află inserate în locul lor corespondent de la finalul fiecărei pagini. Volumul este prezentat azi la Bookfest de prof. Dumitru Preda și dr. Maria Țițeica, în prezența autorului.
”Romania, Nuclear Energy & The Atomic Bomb” analizează originile preocupărilor românești legate de puterea nucleară de la primele lor rădăcini din anii 1920 până la criza rachetelor din Cuba sub mâna călăuzitoare a lui Horia Hulubei; fondator principal al Institutului de Fizică Atomică din România, formulator principal al programului nuclear al țării sale și principal organizator al cercetării științifice la nivel național. Această carte prezintă raționamentul și motivațiile care au condus Bucureștiul în căutarea tehnologiei centralelor electrice cu apă grea și alimentate cu uraniu natural, la începuturile Războiului Rece, identificând influența profundă a Franței asupra direcției inițiale și dezvoltării științei nucleare românești. Mai mult, acest studiu detaliază apărarea necruțătoare a științei și a comunicării științifice internaționale de către fizicianul nuclear împotriva impozițiilor ideologice rasiale și politice ale Germaniei lui Hitler și ale URSS a lui Stalin, transmite Editura Rao.
After World War II most of the world was „spellbound by the transcendental promise of nuclear energy.”4 As part of his „Atoms for Peace” speech President Eisenhower had proposed the creation of an International Atomic Energy Agency primarily to provide access to that promise, and not principally as a policing organization. The First Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy at Geneva in 1955 not only marketed but oversold the promise of nuclear technology to the global community as a panacea for development and progress. It was genuinely believed to be so by the overwhelming majority of the conference’s more than 1400 official participants (and an almost equal number of observers). Romania, as one of the least industrialized of the Soviet bloc states, was hardly an exception.
This sharing of technology, training and cooperation was an extraordinary step in re‐building a global scientific community that had been chopped in half by the Iron Curtain. And it caught the Kremlin completely off‐guard. Soviet authorities desperately raced to limit the damage and blunt the attraction of Western offers on the other members of the Soviet bloc.5
With dozens of countries flocking to take advantage of the new American and European opportunities the Soviets moved quickly to block the spread of western technology and influence into the bloc. It did so in part by countering with offers of its own, offers which the Kremlin had shown absolutely no intention of extending beforehand. And it also attacked the Western initiatives as subversive (which, in a profound sense, they certainly were.)6
4 Wolfgang Krieger, „The Germans and The Nuclear Question,” Occasional Paper No. 14, German Historical Institute, Washington D.C., 1995, p. 13.
5 Moscow „apparently embarked on the policy of peaceful atomic sharing with nations inside its orbit as a necessity that could no longer be avoided.” Jonas, The Soviet Union and The Atom (1958), p. 125.
6 Some two dozen states partnered with the United States by 1956, with a total of 43 by the end of 1959.
Thus began a brief era of seeming Soviet largesse in nuclear cooperation driven by the need to counteract Western influence in an all‐out competition in which the offer of nuclear facilities and equipment was used to curry favor and consolidate ties with allies and friendly states but with developing countries of all varieties as well.7 The first Soviet counteroffer was announced through a media campaign on 18 January 1955, with Pravda proclaiming that, „in return for their contribution of raw materials [i.e. uranium] to the Soviet atomic program,” the USSR would assist Romania, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland and China „to develop programs of research in the peaceful applications of atomic energy.”8 Four days later Gheorghiu‐Dej convened the party’s Political Bureau to discuss the re‐branding and re‐subordination of the Institute and its nuclear power project.
The Romanian Head‐Start
Although much of the discussion was held secret and is marked in the transcripts only by a long ellipsis, the Romanian leader pro‐ posed and the Politburo unanimously approved measures that
7 Fischer (1997), p. 29. According to Bulgarian sources, Eisenhower’s initiative motivated Igor Kurchatov to insist now was the time to reestablish contact with the broader community of nuclear physicists within the Bloc „as a response to American ‘Atoms for Peace’ initiative”. Ivan Tchalakov and Ivaylo Hristov, „Bulgaria: Short Country Report,” WP2, (funded by Euratom Research and Training Programme for University of Plovdiv) HONEST: History of Nuclear Energy and Society, January 2019, p. 9.
8 Jonas, The Soviet Union and The Atom (1958), p. 12. The Soviet announcement, which appeared in Pravda and Izvestia, 18 January 1955, originally stipulated that 5 MW reactors would be supplied but this was revised downward to 2 MW shortly thereafter. Pravda, 29 August 1955. In April 1955 the offer was extended to Hungary and Bulgaria as well.
would insulate the Institute from Academy intercession, inure it from party ideological assault, and grant it increased authority and direct access to the highest levels of government.9 These measures would empower it to respond to the unprecedented opportunity now before it while offering enhanced protection from political, ideological or bureaucratic assault.10 As one Institute physicist recalled of the early 1950s:
[Institute Researchers] continued in quasi‐clandestine ways to procure essential information in order to undertake genuine research and to maintain, as well as they could, undesirable contacts abroad, using all of the subterfuges they had at their disposal, often with the support of highly‐placed cadres who knew too well that the entire system would be led into the abyss if they followed sincerely the official dispositions.11
The newly empowered Institute would now be directly subordinated to State authority (the Council of Ministers) and the Politburo was in unanimous agreement that Gheorghiu‐Dej would take „personal responsibility” for its well‐being:
9 „Transcript of Meeting of the Political Bureau of the R.W.P. Central Committee”, 22 January 1955, ANR, Collection ANIC, Fond C.C. al P.C.R., Sectia Cancelarie, Dosar nr. 6/1955, f. 5.
10 Only days later, in February, Gheorghiu‐Dej created a new Section for Science and Culture in the R.W.P. Central Committee specifically to counter what he described as the „monopoly and dictate” of Mihail Roller, who, as head of Science and Education in the Central Committee’s Agitprop Committee, sat on the presidium of the R.P.R. Academy and caused Hulubei and the Institute such discomfort during 1950‐1952 especially. Plesa (2006), p. 174.
11 Grigorovici (1990): 4.
The Institute of Physics must be given a high profile, we must invest this issue with importance. The Institute should not function under the conditions it has up until now. Of course, it should be tied to the Academy, but it should work under the direct supervision of the Government. We should have a small group here to monitor the atomic energy problem, and we should always be kept current with what is being done there. There will be many matters requiring secrecy, and there are issues of international relations to bear in mind.12
In April 1955 as the United States was concluding its first nuclear assistance partnership agreement (with Turkey), the Kremlin hosted delegations from Romania, East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland, all of which purchased the Soviet 2 Megawatt VVR‐S research reactor.13 The nine‐member Romanian delegation was led by Gheorghe Gaston Marin and Horia Hulubei, and included Şerban Ţiţeica and Alexandru Sanielevici. The delegation spent three weeks touring seven nuclear facilities in Moscow, Obninsk, Leningrad, Kharkov and Kiev. Two of those facilities had VVR research reactors, the rest had particle accelerators or cyclotrons but only Obninsk had a small‐scale power reactor. The
12 „Transcript of Meeting of the Political Bureau of the R.W.P. Central Committee”, 22 January 1955, ANR, Collection ANIC, Fond C.C. al P.C.R., Sectia Cancelarie, Dosar nr. 6/1955, f. 5. Emil Bodnaras observed that: „Some of the personnel of the Institute will be specially recruited for this issue. The Institute has many other issues; only some will be drawn into the Council of Ministers. And they will have to have experimental installations in the territories where no one can enter.”
13 The VVR (Voda‐Voda Reaktor) referred to the fact that it was moderated and cooled with light water. Chinese and Yugoslav delegations were also visiting the USSR at that time, only they were given the opportunity of purchasing heavy water moderated reactors that were not offered to the Bloc members.
delegation also had multiple meetings with a Soviet delegation that included Abram Alikhanov, Vasiliy Emelyanov and Vladmir Wexler.14
Hulubei had planned to acquire a research reactor since his meetings in Paris with Frederic Joliot‐Curie, Francis Perrin and Lew Kowarski in 1946. He had planned and constructed the Măgurele facility with a location and space provided for one, all the while envisioning that the equipment for which it was designed would have been one of indigenous or possibly French, rather than Soviet, design. On the bright side, in terms of suitable facilities and trained personnel, Romania was the most prepared to receive the Soviet research reactor in the shortest time possible. When asked if they had identified a location for the research reactor and accelerator, Gaston Marin replied:
We have all the conditions necessary within the Institute of Atomic Physics, situated some 20 km from the center of the city, in a village of around 500 inhabitants: sufficient space, enough isolation, a surface area of 3,000 square meters already built, and personnel already trained. Therefore, for us, this solution would be the simplest from an economic perspective, if there are no special requirements for which we have not accounted.15
14 Petre Opris, „Primii pasi in proiectul nuclear romanesc de obtinere a energiei electrice (1955‐1970) (1)” [The First Steps in the Romanian Nuclear Project to Obtain Electrical Energy (1955‐1970) (1)], 28 October 2020, at https://www. contributors.ro/primii‐pasi‐in‐proiectul‐nuclear‐romanesc‐de‐obtinere‐a‐ energiei‐electrice‐1955‐1970‐1/. The Soviet delegation was headed by Lavrishchev, the deputy director general for economic relations with „People’s Democracies” in the ministry of commerce.
15 Opris (1) (2020).
When Alikhanov inquired as to the state of nuclear physics in his country Hulubei modestly replied that „only a little work” had been conducted, although noting that his Institute was about to build an accelerator.16 This was well within Hulubei’s wheelhouse. He had built one of the first Cockcroft‐Walton accelerators in Jean Perrin’s laboratory in early 1940 but never had the opportunity to use it himself before the German occupation.
Apparently, that „little work” was enough to set Romania at the front of the line. Romania was the first to sign a contract for the VVR‐S and the first to operate one at criticality in Eastern Europe in July 1957. They were followed by Czechoslovakia in September and East Germany in December 1957. Poland would first operate its VVR‐S at criticality in June 1958, about a year after the reactor in Romania. The Hungarian program was delayed by the 1956 revolt so their VVR‐S would not go critical until 1959.
Building Research Infrastructure in Eastern Europe
East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland then began organizing their nuclear energy programs by „combining existing laboratories into single research institutes and establishing national commit‐ tees to coordinate their research efforts.”17 The Czechoslovaks and Poles founded their Nuclear Research Institutes in June. And the East Germans established their Central Institute for Nuclear Physics at the beginning of January 1956.
17 Horace Dewey, „Soviet Russia’s Role in International Cooperation on Peaceful Uses of the Atom” in E. Blythe Stason, Samuel D. Estep and William J. Pierce, editors, Atoms and The Law, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Law School, 1959), p. 1448.
From a distance, judging only by when their nuclear research organization was formally rebaptized as the Institute of Atomic Physics (IAP) on 5 December 1955, Romania appeared to be following the same path. In fact, however, the Romanian Institute had already undergone the process of creating and combining various institutions, departments, and laboratories (along French rather than Soviet lines, but towards the same purpose) over the previous six years. Now, in 1955‐1956, the Institute of Atomic Physics was created not by combining facilities, which Hulubei had been doing since 1949, but by separating out sections and personnel engaged in areas of physics not critical for the nuclear power project.18 The primary focus of the original Institute was demonstrated by the fact that some 85% of the personnel, along with the workshops, bulk of the equipment, and all of the physical plant (facilities and properties) remained as part of the new Institute of Atomic Physics. The IAP then opened its doors under that title in May 1956.
In a desperate attempt to upstage the „International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of the Atom” that the Americans organized with the United Nations for the beginning of August 1955, Moscow informed its principal allies and partners during their visit to purchase research reactors in April 1955 that it would host a special „Session of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR on the
18 In its decision of 5 December 1955 (H.C.M. nr. 2563/1955), the Council of Ministers split the Institute of Physics apart and established the new Institute of Atomic Physics as a completely autonomous research unit directly subordinated to the Romanian Government with Horia Hulubei as its General Director. See e.g. Petre T. Frangopol and Mihai Bălănescu, „Colaborarea dintre Horia Hulubei şi Yvette Cauchois (The collaboration between Horia Hulubei and Yvette Cauchois)”, Revista De Politica Ştiintei şi Scientometrie, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Septembrie 2014): 196.
Peaceful Use of Atomic Energy” at the beginning of July. Unfortunately for the Kremlin, however, this rather ham‐handed attempt to preempt what became the First Geneva Conference was deemed a flop by many of its participants. Its last‐minute character all but guaranteed that apart from the Soviet satellites and a number of developing countries attendance was going to be unimpressive (41 guests from 20 countries).19
Nor did the exaggerated hype around the ‘world’s first’ civilian nuclear power plant at Obninsk serve the purpose the Kremlin had intended. Overstressing its standard setting role as an industrial producer of electricity proved counterproductive given the modest electrical capacity (6 MW) of the Obninsk reactor. With even Moscow’s allies visibly unimpressed the effort constituted a „bitter end” to Soviet atomic diplomacy.20 Interestingly, while the participant list at the special „Session of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR on the Peaceful Use of Atomic Energy” included representatives from East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and Albania, there was no Romanian delegation in attendance.
In July, shortly after the Moscow Session and one month prior to the First Geneva Conference (8‐20 August 1955), Romania’s Council of Ministers created its Committee for Nuclear Energy (CEN), formalizing its Politburo decision of the previous January. The purpose of the CEN was to oversee the achievement of the industrial production of electricity using nuclear power. Immediately after Geneva,
19 Hiroshi Ichikawa, „Obninsk, 1955: The World’s First Nuclear Power Plant and „The Atomic Diplomacy” by Soviet Scientists,” Historia Scientiarum (Tokyo), Vol. 26, No. 1 (2016): 33‐36.
20 Ibid, p. 41. As a failed design for Soviet military submarine propulsion the Obninsk reactor had to be constantly flooded with coolant to avoid accident and it eventually suffered a fuel rod rupture (in 1959) because of this flaw. Ichikawa (2016), p. 33.
during Khrushchev’s 21‐26 August stopover in Bucharest on his way back from Bulgaria to the USSR, the Romanian leadership requested the withdrawal of Soviet troops from their country. Shortly thereafter, in the autumn of 1955, Bucharest began actively pursuing the normalization of its economic, cultural and scientific relations with the West, concretely proposing steps to do so to the U.S. Legation head at the end of November.
Moscow Attempts to Control the Tide
The period of apparent Soviet generosity in the sharing of nuclear research and technology was overburdened by conditionality and ulterior motive. Whereas American and Western European assistance fostered the independence of partner states as well as forging links of cooperation between them, Soviet assistance was quite clearly designed to reinforce and increase the dependency of the satellite states on the USSR, ensuring that cooperation among participants occurred only under Soviet auspices and control.21 The Kremlin reacted to Western initiatives primarily by employing means to limit their damage to Soviet hegemony in the region; not to advance the energy goals and scientific aspirations of the East Europeans.
Thus, the Kremlin’s responded to the U.S. bilateral partnerships and the organization of CERN by founding the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) at Dubna, together with its East European allies and China, North Korea and Mongolia.22 Moscow’s intention
21 Scientists being scientists, direct bilateral contacts were initially made between the Romanians, East Germans, Czechoslovaks and Poles but were roped under the CMEA umbrella by Soviet authorities by the end of the decade.
22 The JINR, founded in July 1956, was one of the first international organizations to be formed under the auspices of the CMEA.
to employ it as an instrument of control over the various nuclear programs of its partners by binding them to Soviet technology, rather than as a means to promote the equitable sharing of Soviet nuclear energy know‐how, was reflected in the organization of the institute. While the East Europeans and Chinese together contributed more than 52% of the JINR’s budget, they were allotted less than 4% of the JINR’s 1,300 personnel posts during 1956‐1957.23
Likewise, JINR programs were structured to orient non‐Soviet researchers away from applied physics problems of nuclear power production, directing them instead towards high energy physics and more theoretical pursuits.24 JINR’s first director, Dimitri I. Blokhintsev, was a theoretical physicist from Moscow State University actively engaged in the imposition of Marxist ideology and dialectical materialism on Quantum Mechanics (although, according to contemporaries, he ended up by reconciling dialectical materialism to Quantum Mechanics instead).25
At the same time, the USSR launched campaigns claiming their supremacy in the development of civilian nuclear power and condemning CERN and Western nuclear cooperation and assistance in the blackest terms possible.26 Thus, for example, U.S. bilateral
23 Jonas (1958), p. 39. Less than 50 of the JINR personnel were from outside the Soviet Union during 1956‐1957. Soviet personnel likewise made up more than 96% of the JINR’s staff. These numbers improved during the 1950s and early 1960s but never seriously threatened the overwhelming Soviet majority.
24 The other members were obviously disappointed „inasmuch as their primary concern is to develop atomic power programs, and the high‐energy research of the Joint Institute has no direct connection with atomic power.” Ibid, p. 40.
25 See e.g., Meinhard E. Mayer, „Dimitrii Ivanovich Blokhintsev”, Physics Today, Vol. 37, No. 2 (July 1979): 62‐63.
26 Such claims were made, for example, by the president of the USSR Academy of Sciences and by Khrushchev. See e.g., Pravda, 31 December 1955; New York Times, 11 July 1957; and New Times (Moscow), 14 November 1957, Supplement, p. 12.
agreements, in particular the U.S.‐Swiss Treaty of June 1956, were subjected to „violent attack” in the Soviet press, which claimed that the agreement granted the Americans control over the „activity of all Swiss scientific institutes and enterprises which were to receive U.S. supplies and information”.27 The extraordinary effort Moscow made in this campaign reflected the importance the Kremlin gave to compromising Western nuclear cooperation as an evil plot. The Swiss (rather than the Turks) were especially targeted because the Americans had transferred their nuclear research reactor set up in the exhibit hall of the First Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy to Swiss authorities when the conference ended.
EURATOM was likewise condemned as a „closed grouping” aimed at bypassing restrictions so that West German could pro‐ duce and stockpile atomic weapons.28 And in its attacks on CERN Moscow rather clearly broadcast the fact that the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research was created in opposition to cooperative nuclear research organizations in the West. Having established itself as „a closed organization which does not admit states of the Socialist camp into its membership,” CERN, the Soviets claimed, had „compelled a number of states to create their own international research organization” such that the JINR was founded in March 1956 „with this purpose in mind.”29
27 Izvestiya, 4 September 1956; Dewey in Stason, Estep, and Pierce (1959), p. 1454. In fact, Moscow resented the fact that Switzerland did not reach agreement with them. Pravda, 7 September 1956, p. 2. Moscow similarly lost out with India, which partnered with Britain rather than accepting the Soviet offer made several weeks earlier.
28 Izvestiya, 28 March 1956, p. 3.
29 Dewey in Stason, Estep, and Pierce (1959), p. 1425. In 1956 the Soviet press also described the JINR as if it were an alternative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Having said all of that, the best Soviet physicists were part of the same global scientific community with very similar outlooks, and their cooperation with Romanian (and other East European) counterparts was sincere, constructive, and mutually appreciated. The reforging of these ties after so long would have larger and more long‐term ramifications than any of the respective political leader‐ ships could imagine. While the Romanians would continue to push back against efforts by Soviet political administrators to employ the JINR as a straitjacket, cooperation with the Soviet scientists within it, beginning with its first director, Dmitry Blokhintsev, was fruitful. Indeed, leading members of the two scientific communities found themselves on the same side vis‐à‐vis political bureaucracy more often than not.
Geneva 1955: Choosing Heavy Water
The First Geneva Conference on Peaceful Uses of the Atom in 1955 had greatly complicated Soviet efforts to control the expectations and access of its allies to nuclear power technology. The Conference declassified most material regarding the design and physics of nuclear reactors and introduced Soviet bloc physicists into networks of likeminded scientists from all around the world. It also introduced the main competing technologies for fueling nuclear reactors – the enriched uranium fueled reactors increasingly preferred by the United States and the Soviet Union and the natural uranium reactors under development in the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Sweden primarily.30 It was not
30 The British Magnox and the French UNGG reactors were both moderated with graphite. The Swedish Agesta and Marviken reactors (the latter under
only the largest scientific gathering but the largest international conference of any type ever, with over 1400 official delegates and an almost equal number of observers from 73 countries.
If the Romanians had not shown up to the First Geneva Conference in August 1955 already convinced that natural uranium power plant technology was the best option for their country, they certainly reached that conclusion in the weeks that followed. Ever since 1946, when Hulubei spent half the year in France, he had monitored the progress of the Canadian, French and British nuclear programs, receiving news of them from professional journals, international media, and personal communications from his colleagues directly involved with them. 31 But even if he had been unable to access articles on reactor and power plant development in core journals (e.g., Physics Today) in Romania, all were made available to the participants in Geneva.
Articles and presentations on the latest Canadian natural uranium‐heavy water technology, in particular, were plentiful.32 Canada’s NRX had been in operation for several years already and there was considerable hype about the NRU – a further step on the
construction but never operated) and the Canadian NRX and NRU (the latter under construction) were moderated with heavy water.
31 He was almost certainly familiar with W. B. Lewis, „The NRX Pile at Chalk River”, Physics Today, vol. 4, no. 11 (November 1951): 12, and very likely with D. G. Hurst, „Chalk River N.R.X. Nuclear Reactor,” Electrical Engineering, Vol. 70, No. 6 (June 1951): 476‐478. See also „Chalk River’s ‘Atom Smasher’,” Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) Newsmagazine, Broadcast Date: December 5, 1953, Duration: 4.55 minutes, https://www.cbc.ca/archives/entry/chalk‐rivers‐atom‐smasher.
32 See e.g., the 10 August 1955 presentation of Atomic Energy Canada Limited (AECL) Vice President for Research and Development of W.B. Lewis and his AECL colleague J. Davis, „An Economic Forecast of the Role of Nuclear Power in Canada” (P/11) on the panel „The Role of Nuclear Power in the Next 50 Years”; and the 12 August presentation of W.B. Lewis, „Some Economic Aspects of Nuclear Fuel Cycles” (P/4) on the panel „Research Reactors, Descriptions – Fuel Cycles”.
path to the CANDU technology Romania would eventually select.33 It would have been difficult for anyone to miss the head‐ line of the New York Times that appeared four days into the twelve‐day Conference: „Canada Building a New Reactor To Speed Up Atomic Electricity; Advanced Nature of Device is Described at Geneva – Goal Is to Ease Difference in the Country’s Power Prices”.34 Nor would it have been possible to ignore the claim that „Canada is building what is said to be the most advanced atomic research reactor in the world.”35
The Conference provided an ideal opportunity to catch‐up on new developments in the technology also because of Hulubei’s exceptional access to the principal innovators as well. Of the six Conference vice‐presidents, three were intimately acquainted with heavy water technology and two of them, his friends and col‐ leagues Francis Perrin and John Cockroft, introduced him to the third, W. B. Lewis, an „indefatigable proponent of the heavy water reactor”.36 The three men headed up the French, British and Canadian nuclear power programs, and through them Hulubei
33 See e.g., „The ‘National Research Universal’ Reactor,” CBC Newsmagazine, Broadcast Date: 8 January 1956, Duration: 9:27 minutes, https://www.cbc.ca/ archives/entry/the‐national‐research‐universal‐reactor.
34 John Hillaby, „Canada Building a New Reactor to Speed Up Atomic Electricity; Advanced Nature of Device is Described at Geneva – Goal Is to Ease Difference in the Country’s Power Prices”, New York Times, August 11, 1955.
35 Ibid. The Conference exhibit hall displayed models of the various reactors and showed film tours of different nuclear facilities, including Chalk River, the developmental base of CANDU technology. The NRU held international attention for the next two years, the subject of multiple print, radio and television broadcast reports. See e.g., footnote #33 above.
36 David Fischer, History of the International Atomic Energy Agency: The First Forty Years (Vienna: IAEA, 1997), pp. 148‐149. Lewis was Cockcroft’s successor as head of the Canadian nuclear program and was instrumental in the development of CANDU technology. He would also become the long‐standing Chairman of the IAEA Scientific Advisory Committee.
entered into an informal network of physicists working on heavy water technology. Another direct result of these conversations was the invitation extended to Hulubei to visit Britain’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE) at Harwell, which Cockcroft headed, immediately after the Conference.37 Gaston Marin authorized that side trip, along with a stopover in Paris, where Hulubei had another opportunity to catch up with his old friends and colleagues.38
The research agenda of the Institute for Physics regarding nuclear power was oriented from the very start towards reactor technology fueled by the natural uranium that Romania possessed in some abundance, with availability, affordability and energy security being the primary considerations. But by the time the Institute opened its doors as the newly re‐branded Institute of Atomic Physics in May 1956, a series of organizational measures indicated that Hulubei had taken the decision to base Romanian nuclear energy development on heavy water technology as well.
According to one of the chief engineers responsible for setting up the Soviet VVR‐S research reactor the Romanians purchased from the USSR, the selection of the natural uranium option at the Institute of Atomic Physics was never in question:
For reasons of the policy of energy independence natural uranium reactors were the option chosen from the very beginning, as enriched uranium could only be procured from the great nuclear powers of the time, the USSR and the USA. It is worth remarking that from the very establishment of the IAP
37 CNSAS, fond Informativ, dosar nr. 185.150, vol. 7, ff. 289‐293.
38 Aside from his discussions with Francis Perrin (and possibly other CEA members), Hulubei met with Yvette Cauchois on multiple occasions.
in 1956, our own research was directed towards natural ura‐ nium reactor technologies, respectively, towards the production of heavy water and nuclear graphite at the IAP‐Cluj Section (V) and towards uranium‐dioxide fuel technology at IAP‐Măgurele.39
Heavy Water Preference in the West
This was hardly surprising. Countries pursuing nuclear energy in the 1950s that had not developed uranium enrichment capabilities to build weapons during the war, which included basically everyone but the United States and the Soviet Union, initially did the very same, and for essentially the same reasons. Thus, for example, the Canadians found the cost of developing enrichment technology for purely civilian purposes „prohibitive” while natural uranium technology could be developed „without the necessity of enriching the uranium in foreign facilities.”40 Likewise, France and Great Britain chose natural uranium reactors because neither had „its own enrichment plant and choosing the light water reactor would have made them dependent on the USA for fuel.”41
39 Interview of Dumitru Stoian in Veronica Andrei, Iosif Constantin Bilegan, Florian Glodeanu and Constantin Racoveanu, De La Atom La Kilowat in Romania [From The Atom To The Kilowatt In Romania] (Bucharest: Editura Modelism, 2007), p. 134. Stoian installed the VVR‐S along with a second chief engineer, Ion Udrea.
40 Gord L. Brooks, „A Short History of the CANDU Nuclear Power System”, prepared for the Ontario Hydro Demand/Supply Plan Hearing, 1993 January, 2019, pp. 2, 9, https://canteach.candu.org/Content%20Library/19930101.pdf. Brooks was AECL Vice President of Operations, Design and Development Division, and Chief Engineer during 1983‐1991.
41 Fischer (1997), p. 149.
The same considerations, so they would „not have to import enriched uranium”, also drove Norway, Sweden and Finland to initially favor natural uranium‐heavy water technology.42 And while, for historical reasons related to their participation in the Manhattan Project , the British relied on graphite moderators, almost every other state pursuing nuclear energy initially favored heavy water because it offered far greater fuel economy at a time when global uranium resources were grossly underestimated and feared near exhaustion already.43 As one Swedish authority observed: „The choice of heavy water was natural because this particular technology demanded less amounts of uranium.”44
Even the United States believed that the heavy water might be the better option for more rapidly generating electric power during this period. Based on the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission’s „5‐Year Power Reactor Development Program” at the beginning of 1954, the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy (JCAE) concurred
42 See e.g., The Halden Project 1958‐2008: 50 Years of Safety‐Related Research, pp. 9, 11, https://www.oecd‐nea.org/jointproj/docs/halden/the‐halden‐project‐1958‐2008. pdf; Karl‐Erik Michelsen and Aisulu Harjula, „Finland WP2 – Short Country Report” (for Lappeenranta University of Technology, Finland), HONEST, February 2017, p. 40, http://www.honest2020.eu/sites/default/files/deliverables_24/FI.pdf.
43 B. L. Loffe and O. V. Shvedov, „Heavy water reactors and nuclear power plants in the USSR and Russia: Past, present, and future,” Atomnaya energiya [Atomic Energy], Vol. 86, No. 4 (April 1999): 310–321. See also A. I. Alikhanov et al., „Heavy‐water converter reactors based on natural uranium with organic coolant” in Proceedings of the Third International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, Geneva (1964), Vol. 5, p. 479.
44 Krister Wickman, Svensk Atomenergipolitik: Motiv och Riktlinjer för Statens insatser på Atomenergiområdet 1947‐1970 [Swedish Nuclear Energy Policy: Motives and Guidelines for the State’s Efforts in the Nuclear Energy Field, 1947‐1970] (Stockholm: Industrideparamentet, 1970), pp. 17‐18. The Swedish reactor project was led by Sigvard Eklund, the future General Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
that a modification of the AEC’s pressurized water reactor might
be in order:
With relatively minor redesign it would operate on natural uranium if heavy water were to be used as a coolant and moderator instead of natural water. Plants of this type could be built in foreign countries with United States assistance at an earlier date than the more novel plants using highly enriched fuels. Thus we believe electric power could be provided at competitive prices in many parts of the world in the next 10 years. Later, as technology improves, possibly more efficient reactors, using enriched fuels, could also be made available.45
Hulubei signaled this choice more discretely back in Romania, giving instructions for the Cluj Section to concentrate on stable isotopes immediately after his Institute reopened its doors as Institute of Atomic Physics in May 1956.46 The head of IAP‐Cluj
45 Report From The Research and Development Subcommittee of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy on the AEC 5‐Year Power Reactor Development Program (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, March 1954), p. 3. The recommendation to support the 5‐year reactor development program was approved on 23 March 1954 by the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy under its Chairman, W. Sterling Cole. The program was submitted after consultation with 17 leading nuclear scientists and engineers from national nuclear laboratories (e.g., Argonne and Oak Ridge), university departments (Universities of Chicago, California, Cornell, Princeton, and Columbia), and power companies specializing in reactor development (e.g., Detroit Edison, General Electric). Among those consulted were, for example, Edward Teller, Enrico Fermi, W. H. Zinn, and Eugene P. Wigner.
46 Several sources assert that this was his intention when he first visited Cluj immediately after the constitution of the Institute of Physics in 1949 in order to finish the laboratory and research institute project that he began in 1938, which had been interrupted by Hungarian occupation and the war. As one author notes, „from its founding [in 1950], the preoccupation of the institute consisted mainly of the search for a procedure of separating heavy water, an activity undertaken on
Section, Victor Mercea, eventually recruited Marius Peculea to lead the heavy water production project. As both a physicist and an engineer, Peculea was uniquely suited to that task. According to Peculea, Hulubei’s directions in 1956 clearly signaled his intent for those who grasped its implications:
The fact that he founded a Section of Stable Isotopes at Cluj, at a time when no one was interested in it, proves that he had the creation of heavy water in mind. I believe he thought from the very start that the utilization of nuclear energy in Romania would be based on a fission reactor, splitting the nucleus of the atom in the presence of heavy water, which permitted the use of natural uranium that was not enriched isotopically. The only thing lacking for an independent energy system was the pro‐ duction of heavy water. … His insistence that we demonstrate that what we did in Cluj could be industrialized shows that he had the natural uranium‐heavy water reactor in mind.47
Eastern Europe’s Heavy Water Option
Not surprisingly, the other two front‐runners in nuclear energy research in Eastern Europe– East Germany and Czechoslovakia – followed the same logic path and initially chose natural uranium‐heavy
the initiative of Prof. Horia Hulubei and developed under the leadership of Prof. Victor Mercea.” Mircea Bogdan, „Institutul Naţional de Cercetare‐Dezvoltare pentru Tehnologii Izotopice şi Moleculare – INCDTIM – 57 de ani de la înfiinţare”, Curierul de Fizica, no. 85 (September 2019): 11.
47 Interview with Marius Sabin Peculea, „Pasiunea si munca pot crea o Romanie a cunoasterii si inovarii” [Passion and Work can Create a Romania of Knowledge and Innovation], Market Watch (July‐August 2016): 21. See also Peculea in Andrei et. al (2007), pp. 35‐36, 121‐126.
water technology as the basis for the development of their independent nuclear programs. Thus, the German Democratic Republic viewed the construction of heavy water reactors and eventually fast‐breeder reactors as their „main method for resolving its energy issues.”48 And, as in the case of Romania and East Germany, Czechoslovakia set out on the „heavy‐water‐moderated natural uranium reactor” path motivated by the same desire for „economic self‐sufficiency” and energy independence.49 The attraction for Prague, East Berlin and Bucharest was largely identical. And Poland intended to do the same.50 They all initially opted for heavy water technology because it promised „economic and technological independence from the foreign (implied Soviet) enriched fuels”.51
Although arrived at separately, these decisions were all motivated by consideration of the same factors: availability, affordability
48 Mike Reichert, Kernenergiewirtschaft in der DDR: Entwicklungsbedingungen, konzeptioneller Anspruch und Realisierungsgrad, 1955‐1990 [Nuclear Energy Industry In The GDR: Developmental Conditions, Conceptual Requirements and Degree of Realization, 1955‐1990], (St. Katharinen: Scripta Mercaturae, 1999), pp. 153‒176.
49 Burghard Weiss, „Nuclear Research and Technology in Comparative Perspective,” chapter 10 in Kristie Macrakis and Dieter Hoffman, editors, Science Under Socialism: East Germany in Comparative Perspective (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999), p. 225.
50 Jozef Wilczynski, „Atomic Energy for Peaceful Purposes in the Warsaw Pact Countries,” Soviet Studies, Vol. 26, No. 4 (October 1974): 586‐587; Jaroslav Polach, „Nuclear Power in Europe at the Crossroads”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 25, No. 8, (1969): 16. It has been claimed that Budapest sought economic self‐sufficiency in building Soviet VVER reactors, apparently predicated on Hungary’s acquisition of uranium enrichment capabilities from the USSR; an anomaly in Eastern Europe. „European Nuclear Threats: Old And New”, WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor, No. 596, 597, and 598 (14 November 2003): 28.
51 Polach (1969): 16; Wilczynski (1974), pp. 581, 586‐587. See also Sonja D. Schmid, „Nuclear Colonization: Soviet Technopolitics in the Second World” in Gabriel Hecht, editor, Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2011), p. 137.
and security (energy independence).52 The process of enriching uranium was well beyond their financial and technical means and infrastructures. And in the context of the early Cold War the pur‐ chase of enriched uranium meant dependence on a single sup‐ plier, either the Soviet Union or the United States. And the Eastern European states were all on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain.
52 In this regard, post‐communist efforts to impute a hidden military motive to Romania’s natural uranium‐heavy water technology choice are risible and confuse rather than clarify. For such efforts see e.g., Eliza Gheorghe, „Peace for Atoms. US Non‐Proliferation Policy and the Romanian Role in the Sino‐American Rapprochement, 1969–1971”, The International History Review (2018): 10‐13; Eliza Gheorghe, „How to Become a Customer: Lessons from the Nuclear Negotiations between the U.S., Canada and Romania in the 1960s,” Nuclear Proliferation International History Project, Issue Brief #2, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, April 24, 2013, p. 2. Gheorghe also holds Romania to have been a Soviet Trojan horse and its maverick status „contrived” and „undeserved.”
Gheorghiu‐Dej’s cautious protection of Hulubei and his institute during the onslaught of the Moscow Bureau, while simultaneously maintaining his distance, was a textbook case of how much small state leaders can independently accomplish regardless of externally imposed constraints when they are committed. Although he had replaced Georgescu as interior minister in 1952 Gheorghiu‐Dej exercised only limited control over the Securitate, which remained under the thrall of former Soviet NKVD officers led by Gheorghe Pintilie for another decade. Pintilie and at least one of his deputies, Alexandru Nicholski (the NKVD officer who interrogated Hulubei in 1945), even placed listening devices in the office and home of Gheorghiu Gheorghiu‐Dej.1 Thus, Romanian state security remained essentially under Soviet command until 1963.
Keeping Tabs on the Professor: The Soviet‐Run Securitate
While Gheorghiu‐Dej protected and patronized the physicist, the Securitate continued to run hostile surveillance operations against
1 Archive of the Romanian Intelligence Service (ASRI), Fond „d”, Dosar nr. 9604, f. 4.
the „Professorul” (The Professor), as Hulubei was unimaginatively codenamed. When Hulubei’s case file of was finally reviewed in 1954, things only got worse. Instead of shutting down the ridiculously drawn out three‐year „verification”, the physicist was now investigated under a full‐blown „operational intelligence” file.2
The extent of the surveillance was indeed impressive, eventually resulting in eight large volumes. According to the Securitate files:
In the course of the intelligence operations the following oper‐ ational intelligence means were used:
•Recruitment of the agent „Ion Stan,” an element intimate with and appreciated by the target.
•Technical [surveillance] means in his office at the Institute of Atomic Physics at Măgurele as well as in his home.
•The placement of agent „Dumitru Spataru” alongside Prof. Hulubei’s secretary, Maria Condruţ – as a means of placing him near the target.
•Interception of all domestic and foreign correspondence.
•Verifications undertaken in the evidence files of the Ministry for Internal Affairs and through other means regarding his contacts.3
The Securitate was especially keen to keep a close eye on Director Hulubei when he was permitted to attend the initially
2 „Referatul cu propuneri pentru inchiderea dosarului de verificare si de deschidere a dosarului de actiune informative” [Report with Proposals for Closing the Verification File and Opening an Operational Intelligence File], 16 April 1954, CNSAS, Fond Informativ, Dosar nr. 185.150, volum 1, f. 3. This file would eventually comprise 8 large volumes.
3 Moldovan (2011), p. 122.
rare conferences abroad. The pattern had been set in 1947 with the Soviet Central Committee’s circulation of a „closed letter” (part a 25‐page brochure) by the written by Zhdanov and edited by Stalin, which discussed the „historical roots of Russian scientists’ antipatriotic behavior and servility to Western science” under the Czars and identified „servility to the West” as still endemic „among scientists in particular.”4 Hulubei fit the bill perfectly. As a veteran of the French Army and two‐time winner of the Legion of Honor, and having spent thirteen years in France, his pro‐Western culpability was established beyond any doubt. Additionally, he maintained a wide correspondence with westerners, not only with colleagues in France but with those in Great Britain and, worst of all, in the United States as well.
Even more incriminatory, he considered the anti‐Western purification campaign unwise and contraindicated, vocally insisting instead on the value of Romania’s contacts with the West and the necessity not only of preserving but of increasing them. Nor did he refrain from repeatedly placing himself on record as an admirer of Western accomplishments. According to a surveillance summary of 1959, this was „especially” the case „during 1955‐1958”, when Securitate communications intercepts „established that in
4 Nikolai Kremenstov, The Cure: A Story of Cancer and Politics from the Annals of the Cold War (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2002), pp. 126. The „letter” was initially circulated in 9600 copies to „members and candidate members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, of the Central Committees of the Communist parties of [Soviet] republics, and of the regional, city, and local committees; to the ministers of the USSR, members of the ministries’ Collegiums, heads of the central [government] agencies, secretaries of the ministries and agencies’ party cells; and to the heads of all military districts and units.” It contained a special instruction on its back cover that it „must be destroyed within a month from the date of receipt”, marking it as a statement of official confidential policy.
discussions with various persons Horia Hulubei manifests hostility towards the leadership of the party and state in our country and in the Soviet Union, worships the achievements of science and technology in the West, and does not agree with some of the actions taken by the Soviet Union and the RPR.”5
Once scientists as a collective had been decreed inherently unreliable under Stalin, the Soviet Politburo formed a special group to control all contacts between Soviet scientists and their foreign counterparts, the „Bureau on Trips Abroad and Visits to the USSR”. 6 A special team of somewhat technically trained secret police were then assigned to monitor Soviet scientific delegations and keep watch over what individual scientists said and did when they were abroad.7 As Zhdanov wrote in his notebooks at the time: „The secretaries of commissions that are going abroad must be security agents.”8
This practice was quickly extended into Eastern Europe, and Hulubei was not bashful in repudiating it. But while Soviet authorities had established mandatory restrictive guidelines over „what one could not do, say, or vote for” during their interactions abroad, Gheorghiu‐Dej allowed Hulubei and other scientists from the Institute much greater leeway.9 This inevitably led to the creation
5 Moldovan (2011), pp. 121‐122.
6 Kremenstov (2002), p. 132. The bureau was established in June 1947.
8 Ibid. Thus, for instance, the Soviet delegation to the 17th International
Physiological Congress held at Oxford University in July 1947, comprised chiefly of seven Soviet Academicians, was led by a party official and included a now obligatory and apparently innocuous „secretary” who was actually spying on his country’s scientists for the state security apparatus.
9 Ibid. The only authority over the delegation once in Geneva was exercised by its leader, Gheorghe Gaston Marin, who allowed the other members to learn as much as they could by speaking with whomever they needed, whenever they wanted.
of a significant amount of bad blood between the non‐conformist scientists of IAP and their Securitate „minders”.
Hulubei’s „Tail”: Secretary Pacepa in Pursuit
Hulubei’s „minder” at the First Geneva Conference on Peaceful Uses of the Atom was Ion Mihai Pacepa, a chemical engineer recruited as an adolescent by the Soviet NKVD and then supported by them through his university education during 1948‐1951 to be part of the new generation of Soviet‐controlled Securitate officers.10 As such he falls into the category of espionage „mole” rather than „double agent”. Even though he failed to graduate university in 1951, Pacepa was immediately commissioned with the rank of second lieutenant in the General Directorate of State Security, unheard of for a new untrained recruit, which suggests that he had benefited from extracurricular secret police training while at university.11
In August 1955 Pacepa was placed on the official delegation led by Gaston Marin and Hulubei to Geneva, as a „secretary for the delegation” from the State Planning Commission.12 Suggestive of
10 Pacepa eventually defected in 1978. He gave an extended account of his early years to Hungarian Television. See Interview of Ion Mihai Pacepa, „Confessions of a Spy Chief,” DUNA TV, Budapest, 24 February 2004, 0100 hrs; Agentie de presa RADOR [RADOR Press Agency] (Bucharest), 24 February 2004.
11 At the time the Securitate was still run by a trio of Soviet NKVD officers: the chief, Gheorghe Pintilie (Pantelimon Bondarenko), and his two deputies, Alexandru Nicholschi (Aleksandr Sergeyevich Nikolsky), and Vladimir Mazuru (Vladimir Mazurov). Reportedly, Nicholschi had interrogated Hulubei during his April 1954 arrest.
12 See the participant list in the Report of the United States Delegation to the International Conference on the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy held by the United Nations, The International Conference on the Peace Uses of Atomic Energy,
the relative level of professionalism of the Securitate at that time, he appeared on the official delegation list under his own name „Mihail Pacepa.” The fact that he was again placed on the delegation to the Second Geneva Conference in 1958, although this time as a secretary from the Ministry of Commerce and rendered even less mysteriously as „Ion Pacepa”, indicates that Pacepa was involved in the Securitate’s longer‐term surveillance of the Romanian physicist.13
Since the First Geneva Conference was a massive declassification of just about everything regarding reactor physics and technology, the other twelve members of the delegation, which included specialists in the use of isotopes in medicine, in agriculture and in industry, gathered the scientific information. The head of the delegation, Gheorghe Gaston Marin, also received the twelve volumes of formal presentations. Paradoxically, what was undoubtedly the biggest scientific and technical intelligence score of the century made barely a splash in Securitate reporting. Nor did the gathering of that information (or recruitment of any contacts) seem to preoccupy Pacepa, which is ironic given that he later headed the Scientific and Technical (S&T) section of his service.
Apparently, Pacepa’s only task at the conference was to surveil and report on Hulubei’s contacts and activities. The Securitate reports also suggest that while he apparently was assigned this mission because of his technical background he had little or no acquaintance with or understanding of nuclear physics research. The reports indicate only nominal comprehension of who Hulubei
Geneva, Switzerland, August 8‐20, 1955, Vol. I (Washington, D.C., unpublished), p. 617, https://www.osti.gov/opennet/servlets/purl/16295118.pdf.
13 See Annex 1, the „List of Officers, Delegations and Conference Secretariat” in Proceedings Of The Second United Nations International Conference On The Peaceful Uses Of Atomic Energy, Held in Geneva 1 September – 13 September 1958, Volume I (Geneva: United Nations, 1958), p. 503.
was, and they suggest an almost complete ignorance of the identities, achievements, responsibilities, or importance of his various discussion partners. It is unclear from the reports whether Pacepa understood the language they spoke or grasped the significance of the visits Hulubei made at British and French invitation to the headquarters of their nuclear programs immediately after the conference.14
According to the synopsis of the surveillance of Hulubei and his activities during and immediately after the First Geneva Conference in 1955, Pacepa appears to have been reduced to following the physicist around and observing him at considerable distance:
During the conference it was observed that Horia Hulubei made contact with numerous elements from the capitalist states attending the conference, manifesting a tendency to remain alone with them.
On this occasion it was established that Horia Hulubei met on multiple occasions also with one Yvette Cauchois, a professor at Sorbonne University and his former collaborator, both in the UN building and outside… She came to Switzerland
14 Thus, for example, the name Francis Perrin is given in several variants in the Securitate reports on Hulubei, as „Pervin”, „Peran”, and „Perrain”. Moldovan (2011), p. 116; CNSAS, fond Informativ, dosar nr. 185.150, vol. 2, ff. 20 and 325. Likewise, Yvette Cauchois was variously rendered as „Chochois” and „Cancbois”. See e.g., Ibid, vol. 7, f. 265. While the error regarding Cauchois is perhaps understandable given that she was a leading name in nuclear physics primarily within the French academic world, the Securitate officer’s inability to correctly identify Francis Perrin was risible, to say the least. Perrin had been High Commissioner of the Centre for Atomic Energy, France’s most important nuclear authority, since 1951; he was one of the seven principal officers of the First Geneva Conference (a Vice‐President), and he was the President of the Second Geneva Conference on the Peaceful Uses of the Atom.
even though she was not part of the French delegation to the conference, for the apparent reason that she is on vacation.
After the conference ended he was invited to Harwell in England, where he visited the Center for Atomic Research [Atomic Energy Research Establishment].15 On this occasion he also visited twice the Institute of Physics at the Sorbonne, without being accompanied by anyone.16
Hulubei repeatedly made known his „dissatisfaction” when refused permission to attend „various international scientific conferences abroad.”17 And when he was permitted to attend, he freely expressed his resentment at being „followed, something which he does not like.”18 As „Ion Stan”, the codename for the Securitate agent placed within his circle of intimates at the Institute of Atomic Physics, reported in August 1959, Hulubei remained harshly critical of the fact that the Institute’s researchers „are kept closed off and we can never go anywhere, and if we are allowed to go, we have the cops on our tail,” a seeming reference to the ubiquitous Mr. Pacepa.19
15 The Securitate was apparently unaware of the names of the various nuclear authorities. Up until 1955 in Britain it was called the Atomic Energy Research Authority or AERE but during and shortly after the Geneva Conference, in August, AERE was absorbed into the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), with Sir William Penney as its General Director and Sir John Cockcroft as its Director of Research.
16 Moldovan (2011), pp. 114, 121. This is from an 18 January 1962 synthesis of Hulubei’s surveillance in CNSAS, fond Informativ, dosar nr. 185.150, vol. 7, ff. 289‐293.
17 Ibid, p. 122; CNSAS, fond Informativ, dosar nr. 185.150, vol. 7, f. 302. This is from a November 1963 synthesis of surveillance reporting on Hulubei in Ibid, ff. 297‐302.
18 Moldovan (2011), p. 122.
19 „Nota Informativa” [Intelligence Note], 20 August 1959, CNSAS, fond Informativ, dosar nr. 185.150, vol. 1, f. 17.
The secret police archives likewise reveal that throughout the 1950s, Hulubei fought a running battle with the Securitate officer responsible for vetting the personnel of the Institute. Hulubei hired and sought to retain the very best physicists, engineers, chemists, and mathematicians solely on the basis of their talent and ability to work with others. This was a fundamental requirement of any successful scientific endeavor and it closely adhered to Jean Perrin’s dictum eschewing considerations of ideology or ethnic exclusivity, a principle to which Hulubei had adhered throughout his life.20 The Securitate on the other hand, constantly attempted to impose party‐ideological criteria, especially regarding ‘healthy social origins’ (when one’s parents were workers or peasants background rather than intellectuals or, far worse, capitalists), as determining factors in employment and retention decisions. As one IAP alum‐ nus reports, „Hulubei’s eternal disputes with the head of ‘cadres’, Securitate Major Vintilă, over the protection of valuable specialists against Securitate ‘vigilance’”, became legendary.21
It would appear that Pacepa and his Soviet‐controllers managed to curb Hulubei in at least one respect. The openness and free exchange quickly established at the First Geneva Conference were intoxicating for all of the participating scientists, regardless of which side of the ideological divide their countries were positioned. The Americans especially created an extraordinary display
20 As Perrin declared in his October 1939 radio broadcast, „There is no possible science where thought is not free, and thought cannot not be free without consciousness being also free. We cannot force chemistry to be Marxist, and at the same time promote the development of great chemists. We cannot force physics to be one hundred percent Aryan and retain the greatest of physicists within its territory.” Guthleben (2013), p. 14, http://journals.openedition.org/ bibnum/816.
21 Frangopol (2016), p. 147.
of their technology and generosity, having actually built and operated a nuclear research reactor in the exhibit hall (and bringing it up to criticality every 15 minutes to show off the eerie blue light of the Cherenkov effect) which they then donated to the Swiss.22 The U.S. exhibits included a full sample library that they were providing to partners along with scores of giveaway publications and continuous showing of films made at various U.S. nuclear facilities.23 After their conversations with American counterparts both Hulubei and Gaston Marin were convinced that the time had come to renew contact with the United States and that the best way to do it was through economic and scientific (and cultural) exchange.
Hulubei made his technological preoccupations clear enough at the First Geneva Conference in 1955 to be invited to chair the panel dealing primarily with heavy water technology – „Reactor Physics: Liquid‐Moderated Reactors” – at the Second Geneva Conference in 1958. His vice‐chair was Karl Wirtz, Professor of Applied Physics and Nuclear Reactors at the Karlsruhe Technical High School and a veteran heavy water expert who had worked in the „Uranium Club” during the war. Eight of the eleven presentations on that panel dealt with heavy water reactors, two from Sweden and one each from the Canada, U.S.A, U.K, France, the USSR, and Yugoslavia.47
Heavy Water as the Romanian Choice: Geneva 1958
On this occasion Hulubei brought Romania’s heavy water option ‘out of the closet’ by announcing the formal creation of a heavy water network, a group of researchers loosely cooperating since 1955 who were now prepared to share their experimental findings under the auspices of the UN Geneva organizations. Stressing „the importance which reactors of this kind seem to have as power reactors of the future”, Hulubei discussed heavy water technology as if everyone present was working on it, his country included:
I should like to say this about the results as a whole. At the First Conference, three years ago, the pooling of hitherto secret results obtained in the different countries enabled us to
47 Proceedings Of The Second United Nations International Conference On The Peaceful Uses Of Atomic Energy, Volume 12: Reactor Physics (Geneva: United Nations, 1958), pp. 563‐564.
compare our work and to consider the best direction in which to pursue our most important lines of research. … These discussions have been most fruitful, and I would like to tell the meeting something which I consider very important. The members of the group have decided in principle to co‐operate in a kind of critical review and comparison of the experimental results and methods of calculation relating to uranium‐heavy water lattices. … If you agree, we will ask the managers of this Conference to take the appropriate steps to make this co‐operation, which has here been decided in principle, as effective as possible.48
Upon his return from Geneva, Hulubei lost no time in setting the goal of industrial production of heavy water as the number one priority for IAP‐Cluj. As one of the researchers there later recalled, although Hulubei visited Cluj infrequently, his visits marked major crossroads in the nuclear program and usually set the „future guidelines for the Section”:
One such visit worth remembering was in the autumn of 1958, when the program for producing heavy water began. Thanks to the Professor, this program could develop in multiple directions, encompassing a broad field of research connected with the prospecting of natural deuterium resources, methods of deuterium analysis and separation, and other methods of iso‐ topic separation.53
Underscoring that they knew best how to proceed, Hulubei told them that their success would depend on their cooperation, dedication and skill:
You need to work as a unit. The task is difficult and there are many gaps in the information, because the results are still being held secret. It all depends on your talent and tenacity to give life to this project. I have every hope that you will succeed!”54
53 Gheorghe Vasaru, „Mostenirea Profesorului Horia Hulubei la Cluj” [The Legacy of Professor Horia Hulubei in Cluj], Curierul de Fizica, vol. 1, no. 74 (March 2013): 17.
54 Ibid. The author, a researcher at the IAP‐Cluj Section at the time, notes how especially difficult things were at the beginning, „because the specifics of stable isotopes were of a nature that in this in this field much less was published than in other fields of nuclear physics. Because it is a matter of important, even
Hulubei’s longtime preference for natural uranium‐heavy water technology was now the primary orientation of nuclear power plant research at the Institute for Atomic Physics. While IAP‐Cluj worked on efficiently producing heavy water at an acceptable cost and in quantities necessary for a heavy water reactor program, IAP in Măgurele would focus on developing uranium oxide fuel that could run it. In 1962 the „first pilot laboratory‐scale production of heavy water was put into operation at Cluj”, and the first patent was filed by a researcher at Măgurele for producing ceramic uranium oxide fuel.55
strategic primary material, about the separation of certain stable isotopes almost nothing was published, and you could not visit the laboratories involved in such studies. It was necessary to start everything at square one.” Ibid, pp. 17‐18.
55 Vasaru (2013), p. 18. S. Lungu, „Equilibrium Diagram and Melt Mass of U02‐Si02 Systems,” Revue Roumaine de Physique, Vol. 7 (1962) 419‐425. Lungu filed R. S. R. Pat., No. 45203/1962. See also, S. Lungu, I.D. Alecu, G. Glanz, and I. Rutter (Institute for Atomic Physics), „Irradiation Behavior of Vitreous Ceramic Nuclear Fuel” in Proceedings Of The Fourth International Conference On The Peaceful Uses Of Atomic Energy Jointly Sponsored By The United Nations And The International Atomic Energy Agency And Held In Geneva, 6‐16 September 1971, Geneva, 1972, p. 338.