At present the total nuclear arsenal of the world is no less than 27,000 nuclear warheads. Nine countries in the world (probably) have nuclear weapons and a dozen more have access to the resources and technology needed to produce such a weapon.
Nuclear Secrets is a series of spy thrillers exploring the key turning-points in the race for nuclear supremacy.
Despite being an ally during World War II, the Soviet Union launched an all-out espionage effort to uncover the military and defense secrets of the United States and Britain in the 1940s. As the top-secret plan to build the bomb, called the Manhattan Project, took shape in the United States, the Soviet spy ring got wind of it before the FBI knew of the secret program’s existence. The Atomic Spy Ring was established by the Soviet Union during World War II and included some of the best known names in the world of espionage. Barely four years after the United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, the Soviet Union detonated its own at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan in August 1949, much sooner that expected.
The race to build the hydrogen bomb took the world to the edge of apocalypse. It set off a real-life action thriller to control the most powerful force on the planet. This prestigious BBC series using dramatized reconstructions and CIA and KGB archives reveals the true story of the race for nuclear power, from the creation of the A-bomb to the present day market in military secrets across the world.
A Dune Films, BBC/National Geographic Channel and NDR Norddeutscher Rundfunk Co-production
Part 1: The Spy From Moscow
Soviet Colonel Oleg Penkovsky was one of the highest-ranking Soviet officials ever to spy for the West, and he risked his life providing an unparalleled amount of information to MI6 and the CIA. At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy could turn to technical evidence unknown to the rest of the world provided by “Agent Hero” – Penkovsky’s codename. One of the most effective spies in MI6’s history, Penkovsky soon realised the KGB were on his tail. With unprecedented access to KGB archives, the film shows the surveillance footage taken by the KGB as they trailed Penkovsky across Moscow in meetings with his British handlers – Janet Chisholm, a British diplomat’s wife, and Greville Wynne, a British businessman. Declassified CIA transcripts reveal that as America was being targeted, so was Penkovsky. His dramatic story and tragic end is highly revealing of KGB operations at the height of the Cold War.
Part 2: Superspy
One man’s mission started the Cold War. Superspy unearths how Klaus Fuchs stole the secrets of the Hiroshima bomb and gave these confidential details to the Soviet Union. During the Second World War, German refugee Klaus was posted to the highest security weapons laboratory in America. His assignment was to help design the world’s first weapon of mass destruction. After joining Robert Oppenheimer’s team, he became an expert on plutonium and secretly plotted how to contact the Soviet spymasters. Under the eyes of the FBI, he slowly pieced together America’s atomic secrets and copied out his notes. Evading security, he smuggled out the complete blueprint of the Nagasaki A-bomb. In January 1942, Klaus met up with a young mother – who was, in fact, a Soviet spy – and disclosed the classified information of how to construct an A-bomb. In the spring of 1945, he conducted a series of meetings with his Soviet courier, “Harry Gold”. By 1949, the FBI were on the hunt for the traitor. Klaus escaped to England, where he started a job which placed him at the heart of the British nuclear establishment. While in the UK, he continued to sell secrets. The superspy’s downfall came when he confessed all to MI5, whom he told: “It’s as though my mind has two compartments.” But the consequences of his actions led the world to fear nuclear Armageddon.
Part 3: Superbomb
Two superpowers, one goal – the race for nuclear supremacy follows the Soviet Union and USA as they struggle to control the most powerful force on the planet and create a “superbomb” that could unleash an explosion 1,000 times greater than Hiroshima. In April 1946, nuclear scientist Edward Teller, who has become known as the father of the hydrogen bomb, arrived at Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory to chair a secret conference on the most ambitious weapons project the world had ever seen: the creation of a “superbomb”. Having met initial opposition from his boss, the father of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer, Teller believed he could build the ultimate weapon. In Kew Gardens in 1947, a secret rendezvous took place. Soviet Alexander Felisov met his contact who handed over intelligence regarding Teller’s H-bomb. Unknown to Teller, his weapons programme had been infiltrated by a Soviet husband-and-wife team – “the volunteers”. By 1951, Teller had made the breakthrough he craved when he tested the H-Bomb in Eniwetok Atoll, in the Pacific. For 15 minutes, he waited anxiously to discover that the island had vanished and, in its place, was a crater, two miles wide. While Teller triumphed in the US, the Soviets were desperate to develop a small bomb that could be dropped by a plane. Chief Scientist Andrei Sakharov was successful in developing this. Teller discovered what the Soviets were doing and secretly joined the FBI as an informant; he accused his contemporary, Robert Oppenheimer, of not acting in the interests of the US and destroyed his reputation with a powerful testimony. But it was too late. The Soviets now held the secret to wiping out any city in Europe. Doomsday was now just around the corner…