Digital Commonwealth

Interview with Bertrand Goldschmidt, 1986 [2]

Item Information

Title:
Interview with Bertrand Goldschmidt, 1986 [2]
Description:
Bertrand Goldschmidt was a French physicist, the only Frenchman to work on the Manhattan Project. He later became an international authority on nuclear policy. In this lengthy interview, he recalls the Atoms for Peace program and French mixed feelings about the international Safeguard system. His role in the Quebec conference in 1943 is discussed. He describes the period after Geneva as one of “nuclear euphoria” because of the spirit of collaboration it engendered. He talks about France’s sale of reactors to Israel and India, among other assistance, and the French dissatisfaction with the Safeguards regime. He goes into some detail on the Indian and Israeli programs, then recalls his reaction to the Chinese test, adding details about reports that the Soviets had provided China with assistance early on in their program. Similarly, he talks about the 1974 Indian test, noting there is no such thing as a peaceful nuclear device, and reflects on France’s attitude toward the nonproliferation treaty, including U.S. criticism that the French exploited loopholes in the agreement. The experience of working with Pakistan, he recalls, was more complicated than France’s arrangements with other governments. He denies France knew at the time that Pakistan wanted to develop a bomb, then describes why the French broke off the deal. Discussing the Carter administration’s policies, he considers the president’s nonproliferation approach to have been hostile to nuclear energy and fundamentally unfair. Next, he explains France’s support for the Iraqi reactor, which Israel bombed in 1981. He notes that a French team had been assigned to monitor the reactor and that there was no danger of it being used for undeclared purposes. France’s reasons for building the reactor, he says, included a need for oil and a basic disagreement with the notion of denial of nuclear access to developing countries. He then discusses governments’ motivations for possessing a bomb, and why there have been no new members of the nuclear club for some years.
Interviewee:
Goldschmidt, Bertrand
Date:
December 13, 1986
Format:
Film/Video
Location:
WGBH
Collection (local):
WGBH Open Vault
Series:
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Subjects:
Nuclear energy
Joliot-Curie, Frederic
Reagan, Ronald
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963)
Soviet Union
United Nations
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (1968)
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Great Britain
Nuclear weapons
Hydrogen bomb
Nuclear nonproliferation
United States. Nuclear Nonproliferation Act of 1978
International Atomic Energy Agency
International relations
Physicists
Brezhnev, Leonid Il'ich, 1906-1982
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Seaborg, Glenn T. (Glenn Theodore), 1912-1999
Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Nehru, Jawaharlal, 1889-1964
Giscard d'Estaing, Valery, 1926-
Ben-Gurion, David, 1886-1973
Bhabha, Homi Jehangir, 1909-1966
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
Places:
Israel
Pakistan
India
Iraq
Canada
Belgium
United States
China
Brazil
Iran
France
Extent:
02:29:19:29
Link to Item:
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Publisher:
WGBH Educational Foundation
Identifier:
V_F46405DE4B8B4F1FAC144ED107ED912B