August 7, 2002

DEBUNKING THE J-BOMB: Angie Schultz, a physicist with an interest in the history of the atomic bomb, is even more skeptical than me about The Independent’s report that the Japanese were “days away” from an atomic bomb at the end of the war.

They would have liked to have been, and there’s some evidence that the Germans were trying to help them (the U-234 was carrying uranium, and some technicians, to Japan when it was intercepted at the end of the war; the uranium was reportedly added to the U.S. effort and wound up in the Hiroshima bomb). But “days away?” She’s doubtful. Their biological warfare program, which was far more advanced, was a bigger threat and in fact killed a nontrivial number of people in China.

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