Estimate of the Status of the Russian Atomic Energy Project

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY - July 25, 1948

MEMORANDUM TO THE PRESIDENT

Subject: Estimate of the Status of the Russian Atomic Energy Project

In the interval since the 15 December 1947 report on the Status of the Soviet Atomic Energy Program was issued, no information has been received that necessitates changes in the argument of that report. It has remained necessary to rely on knowledge of the United States, British, and Canadian experience in order to project present information into the future. Information received since December adds somewhat to our knowledge of the scope and details of the USSR's project, but it continues to be impossible to determine its exact status or to determine the data scheduled by the Soviets for the completion of their first atomic bomb. It has been learned, however, that in the summer of 1947 the highest Soviet authority was seriously disturbed by the lack of progress.

On the basis of the evidence now in our possession, it is estimated that the earliest date by which it is remotely possible that the USSR may have completed its first atomic bomb is mid-1950, but the most probable date is believed to be mid-1953. Further discussions with geological consultants, further literature studies, and such information as has been received from the field lead to the conclusion that previous estimates of the total reserves of uranium available to the USSR were low. As a result, the estimated production of bombs has been increased. It is now believed that the maximum number of bombs in the Soviet stockpile in 1955 will be not more than 20 if the first bomb is completed in 1953, or not more than 50 if it is completed in 1950.

The above report was delivered to the Joint Congressional Atomic Energy Committee of which Senator Hickenlooper is the chairman and in addition has also been disseminated to the Armed Services and the Department of State. This report, although prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency, was examined and concurred in by the intelligence agencies of the State, Army and Air Force Departments as well as by the Atomic Energy Commission.

R.H. Hillenhoeffer
Rear Admiral, USN

Director of Central Intelligence

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