b'C H A P T E R 3T H E U RA N I U M T RA I L L EA DS T O I D A H OThe Act created a special committee in was nuclear weapons technology. T heThe U.S. Air Force became interestedCongress called the Joint Committee on two nations raced to be first to possess in uranium. Colonel Donald J. Keirn, aAtomic Energy (JCAE) to prepare bud- and command the most destructive visionary in the field of jet aircraftgets and approve AEC policy direc- possible power against the other. 13 propulsion, realized that if nuclear tions. The committee was unique. power could be linked with jet engineHouse and Senate members typically When David Lilienthal became the first technology, the country would have ancreated committees as convenient ways AEC chairman, he learned how little unparalleled offensive weapon.to divide their work; this one was man- destructive atomic power the United Uranium fuel would occupy less spacedated by law. Nine members from each States actually possessed. The world, in an airplane than a baseball. A poundchamber sat on the JCAE, concentrat- including President Truman, assumed of enriched uranium could replace theing a great deal of authority among that the nation had a sizeable stockpile energy in 1.7 million pounds of stan-very few legislators. 11 of atomic bombs. But on April 3, 1947, dard chemical fuel. A nuclear-poweredit was Lilienthals duty to tell the presi- airplane could stay aloft for days at aIn due course, the new commissioners dent that the United States had exactly time, ending flight-distance limits. Intook their seats, hired their staff, and zero atomic bombs ready for use and 1945 J. Carlton Ward, Jr., president ofdecided on a plan of action. that it would be several months before Fairchild Engine and AirplaneEveryonePresident Harry S. Truman, that number could improve. Not sur- Corporation, told a senate committeethe scientists who had developed the prisingly, the production of bombs that the range of an atomic plane wouldbombs, and the corporations that had became the AECs most urgent be limited only by its ability to carryhelped build themdesired to develop priority. 14 enough sandwiches and coffee for thepeaceful uses of nuclear energy. crew. It could deliver bombs anywhereCongress hoped that in the world, approachresearch and develop- a target from anyment would eventually direction, and nevershow that a civilian have to rely on a refu-nuclear power industry eling base outside thecould generate electri- United States. Acal power economical- bomber combining jetly enough to compete speed with long rangewith coal and gas would be a usefulfuels. 12 weapon indeed. 15But such peaceable The U.S. Army wassentiments were not to similarly tantalized bydominate the early the idea that a handfulyears of the A E C.of fuel could end theInstead, the United U.S. Department of Energy logistical headache ofStates and the Union of Soviet President Harry S. Truman appointed the first five transporting fuel to remote locations.Socialist Republics (USSR), allies in AEC commissioners.From left to right, William W. Perhaps nuclear power plants could beWorld War II, became antagonists in a Waymack, Lewis Strauss, Chairman David E. mobile, able to travel with a field hos-tense ideological and geo-political con- Lilienthal, Robert F. Bacher, and Sumner T. Pike. pital or command center. If so, a powerflict that came to be called the Cold plant could be mounted on a barge andWa r. One of its major battlegrounds towed from one port to another,2 5'