Mikhail Klochko

Joseph Stalin’s drive to build a Soviet atomic bomb may have cost more lives than those lost at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.
On 29 December 1962, many scientists, engineers and workers in the Soviet Union read with cynicism an article in Pravda about the toll of radiation-induced diseases among the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Nearly 20 years after the atomic bombs dropped, Japanese people were still dying. But the people who had worked on Joseph Stalin’s atom bomb project in the 1940s and 1950s already knew well the perils of radiation — despite the heavy veil of secrecy surrounding the issue. “Why point the finger at Japan,” many readers of the article must have thought, “when in the USSR itself countless people suffer from the same diseases and thousands have died from them.”

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