Nuclear bombs cannot possible
remain a "secret weapon" at the exclusive disposal
of this country for more than a few years. The scientific facts
on which their construction is based are well known to scientists
of other countries. Unless an effective internal control of nuclear
explosives is instituted, a race for nuclear armaments is certain
to ensue following the first revelation of our possession of
nuclear weapons to the world....In the war to which an armaments
race is likely to lead, the United States, with its agglomeration
of population and industry in comparative few
metropolitan districts, will be at a disadvantage compared to
nations whose population and industry are scattered over large
We believe that these considerations
make the use of nuclear bombs for an early unannounced attack
against Japan inadvisable. If the United States were to be the
first to release this new means of indiscriminate destruction
upon mankind, we would sacrifice public support throughout the
world, precipitate the race for armaments, and prejudice the
possibility of reaching international agreement on the future
control of such weapons.
Scientists' petition against
use of the atomic bomb, June, 1945
I realize the tragic significance
of the atomic bomb. Its production and its use were not lightly
undertaken....But we knew that our enemies were on the search
for it. We know now how close they were to finding it. And we
know the disaster which would come to this nation...to all civilizations,
if they had found it first....
Having found the bomb we have
used it. We have used it against those who attacked us without
warning at Pearl Harbor, against those who have starved and beaten
and executed American prisoners of war, against those who have
abandoned the pretense of obeying international laws of warfare.
We have used it in order to shorten the agony of war, in order
to save the lives of thousands and thousands of young Americans.
President Truman defends his
decision to drop the atomic bombs, August, 1945
political and military factors led President Truman to order
the atomic bombing of Japan?
alternatives were available to him?
3. On what
grounds do Truman's critics question his decision?
4. In your
opinion was the decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan correct?