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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1940s  1944


In this year, the British government asked South African Prime Minister Jan C. Smuts to survey South Africa's uranium deposits. It is determined that South Africa has a high volume of low-grade uranium ore.

A second uranium reactor is built at Clinton, Tennessee for manufacturing plutonium for an atomic bomb. [Note: First reactor is Fermi ís in 1942.]

Barely sixteen months after the feasibility of achieving a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction was established by Enrico Fermi in Chicago, Homi Jehangir Bhabha initiates efforts to start nuclear research programs in India, even though this tightly held secret was known to only a very limited number of individuals in the U.S., UK and Canada.

Vannevar Bush authors a classified memo to the U.S. Secretary of War outlining major nuclear issues. The memo is seen as the start of American nuclear policy. Major points include:

  • The advantages of the United States over Great Britian and Russia are only temporary;
  • Keeping nuclear fusion technology secret will be impossible;
  • The danger of secrecy creating mistrust with other nuclear states over time;
  • The potential for a nuclear arms race; and
  • The proposition of information exchange for world peace.

Internal American documents reveal that German progress toward a nuclear weapon has slowed significantly.

The first batch of plutonium from Hanford's reactors is ready for testing.

Joseph Rotblat , Polish refugee and physicist, resigns from the Manhattan Project, since he believed that Nazi Germany would not succeed in developing an atomic weapon. He later explains, "I felt there was no need to make a bomb. The only reason I started in 1939 was to stop Hitler using it against us." Rotblat was thereafter barred from entering the United States for 20 years. In 1957, he helped start the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, which he was the first president of. In 1995, Rotblat and Pugwash jointly were awarded The Nobel Peace Prize for their work towards the abolition of nuclear weapons.