Conclusions: The Noisy Echo of Secrecy

in The Pontecorvo Affair

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780226816647
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226816661 | DOI:
Conclusions: The Noisy Echo of Secrecy

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  • History of Science and Technology


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This chapter explores how Bruno Pontecorvo's presence in Russia was far more decisive than any information that Soviet intelligence had managed to harness earlier on, and examines the proliferation of accounts about him. It shows how the withdrawal of information from the public domain featured as a key tool of nuclear diplomacy. The chapter illustrates how the utilization of secrecy has impacted the current understanding of important transitions in nuclear science and security. Secrecy was employed in the Pontecorvo case to cover issues that had major implications for the handling of national and international affairs. The Pontecorvo affair reported that the mysteries connected with the spread of nuclear and other military technologies and the unlawful transfer of scientific information cannot be immediately understood, except for some marginal aspects. Revealingly, the new documents on this affair indicated that an intelligence program aimed at tackling atomic espionage may have never really existed.

Keywords: Bruno Pontecorvo; Russia; nuclear diplomacy; secrecy; nuclear science; security; intelligence program; atomic espionage

Chapter.  6190 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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