The Cold War Atomic Spies (314)

Cold War Conversations

On 29 August 1949 at 7:00 a.m. the Soviet Union exploded its first atomic bomb. 

The test stunned the Western powers. American intelligence had estimated that the Soviets would not produce an atomic weapon until 1953, while the British did not expect it until 1954.

The speed at which the Soviet Union developed their bomb was due a network of spies from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada who gave the Soviet Union the necessary information to develop an atomic bomb

They were motivated by a range of factors. Some, such as ideology or a belief in communism, were committed to advancing the interests of the Soviet Union. Others were motivated by financial gain, while some may have been coerced or blackmailed into spying. 

I speak with author Andrew Long who has written “Secrets of the Cold War – espionage and intelligence operations from both sides of the Iron Curtain” which covers this story and many others.

Buy the book here

Book Giveaway info here

Extra episode information here

Other episodes

Interview with a KGB agent trained by two of the Atomic Spies

The Portland Spies &

Ottawa Soviet defector Igor Gouzenko

Ethen Rosenberg

 Guy Burgess & The Cambridge 5

Kim Philby’s granddaughter recollections

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0:00 Introduction to the podcast and the topic of the Soviet Union’s first atomic bomb

1:13 The history of atomic physics and the conceptualization of the atomic bomb

6:34 Collaboration between the US and the UK on the atomic bomb project and its aftermath

11:24 Espionage and the role of spies in the Soviet Union’s acquisition of atomic technology

20:50 The Cambridge Five and how Cairncross broke the story to the Soviets about the atomic bomb project

33:33 The contribution of Ted Hall and George Koval to Soviet Intelligence

38:27 British spy Klaus Fuchs’s role at Los Alamos and his ideological motivations

51:49 Fuchs’s contribution to the Los Alamos setup and the plutonium bomb

59:12 Post-war movements of the atomic spies and the unraveling of the Soviet Spy network

1:10:02 The arrest and conviction of Klaus Fuchs and the Rosenberg case

1:15:29 The fate of the spies and the impact of atomic espionage on the Cold War and global power dynamics

1:25:14 Introduction to Andrew’s book and closing remarks

1:26:20 Podcast outro and acknowledgments

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