This day in history, September 23, 1949, President Harry Truman announced that the Soviet Union detonated a nuclear device, which is years ahead of what was thought possible by U.S. officials at the time. They thought that by the time they were able to create one the U.S. would have a large arsenal of them already created.
President Harry Truman, upon hearing the news of the Soviet Union successfully using a nuclear device, did not believe that it was possible for them to succeed in creating a nuclear bomb so quickly.
The United States developed the atomic bomb during the latter stages of World War II and dropped two bombs on Japan in August 1945. By the time of the bombings in Japan, relations between the United States and the Soviet Union were already crumbling. Many U.S. officials, including President Truman, came to see America’s atomic monopoly as a valuable asset in the developing Cold War with Russia.
On September 3, 1949, U.S. scientists recorded seismic activity from inside the Soviet Union, which was undoubtedly the result of a nuclear bomb test conducted underground.
On September 23, he issued a brief statement to the media, saying that the Soviet Union had nuclear weapons capabilities.
“We have evidence,” the statement read, “within recent weeks an atomic explosion occurred in the USSR.”
He attempted to lighten the situation by saying, “The eventual development of this new force by other nations was to be expected. This probability has always been taken into account by us.”
The reason that the Soviet Union was able to catch up to the United States so quickly was that the Soviet Union, similar to the United States, captured multiple German scientists after World War II who were previously working on creating nuclear weapons. Soviet spies had infiltrated the U.S. and were able to gain information on nuclear devices.
Following the discovery that the Soviet Union had detonated a nuclear bomb,Truman requested an intensive re-evaluation of America’s Cold War policies by the National Security Council. The report called for increased military spending and an accelerated program to create the hydrogen bomb.