Today in History: President Truman Backs Hydrogen Bomb Development
by M. C. Millman
President Harry S. Truman announced his approval of the development of the hydrogen bomb on January 31, 1950.
In a statement issued from the White House, Truman confirmed that the United States would work to develop the hydrogen bomb. The development of the hydrogen bomb would become a significant part of the U.S. nuclear weapons program during the early years of the Cold War.
The U.S. government supported the development of the hydrogen bomb for several reasons. One was that it would maintain and strengthen the United States' strategic deterrent capabilities during the early years of the Cold War, protecting against potential aggression by the Soviet Union and other adversaries. The U.S. also needed to keep pace with the Soviets, who had already developed and successfully tested their first atomic bomb in 1949.
Truman's decision to develop and ultimately test the hydrogen bomb was a highly controversial and debated issue within the U.S. government and among scientists, as they were concerned about the destructive power and ethical implications of such a weapon.
The H-bomb was successfully tested on November 1, 1952. The test was code-named Ivy Mike and took place at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands.
The U.S. government did not publicly announce the successful test until March 1954, as it involved highly classified information and was part of the broader nuclear arms race during the Cold War.
Photo credit: whitehouse.gov