The Tube Alloys programme in Britain and Canada was the first nuclear weapons project. British efforts were kept classified, and as such had to be referred to by code even within the highest circles of government. The Soviet Union gained valuable information through its atomic spies. In 1952, Britain performed a nuclear test under codename ‘Operation Hurricane’
About Tube Alloys in brief
The Tube Alloys programme in Britain and Canada was the first nuclear weapons project. British efforts were kept classified, and as such had to be referred to by code even within the highest circles of government. The Soviet Union gained valuable information through its atomic spies, who had infiltrated both the British and American projects. In 1952, Britain performed a nuclear test under codename “Operation Hurricane”. In 1958, in the wake of the Sputnik crisis and the British demonstration of a two-stage thermonuclear bomb, the United Kingdom and the United States signed US–UK Mutual Defence Agreement, which resulted in a resumption of Britain’s nuclear Special Relationship with the U.S. The neutron was discovered by James Chadwick at the Cavendish Laboratory at the University of Cambridge in February 1932. In April 1932, his Cavendish colleagues John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton split lithium atoms with accelerated protons. Enrico Fermi and his team in Rome conducted experiments involving the bombardment of elements by slow neutrons, which produced heavier elements and isotopes. In December 1938, Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassmann at Hahn’s laboratory in Berlin-Dahlem bombarded uranium with slowed neutrons. In February 1939, the Paris Group showed that when fission occurs in uranium, two or three extra neutrons are given off. This important observation suggested a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction might be possible. Early in 1940, the French Collège de France found that both water and graphite could be used as moderators to contain the fast neutrons until they reached a usable energy level.
The term ‘atomic bomb’ was already familiar to the British public through the writings of H. G. Wells, in his 1913 novel The World Set Free. Most still considered an atomic bomb an impossibility, although most still considered a slow fission reaction to cause fission an impossibility. The first nuclear bomb was made in 1945 by the Germans in the city of Dachau, near the German-occupied city of Leningrad. It was used as a deterrent against the advancing Soviet Union in the Second World War. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution in 1947 calling for an end to the use of nuclear weapons during the war, but this was not implemented until the end of the war. The United States terminated co-operation after the war ended with the Atomic Energy Act of 1946. This prompted the UK to relaunch its own project, High Explosive Research. Production facilities were established and British scientists continued their work under the auspices of an independent British programme. The project was ultimately subsumed into the Manhattan Project by the Quebec Agreement with theUnited States, under which the two nations agreed to share nuclear weapons technology, and to refrain from using it against each other, or against other countries without mutual consent. The Tube Alloy’s Directorate was part of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. The programme was responsible for developing uranium-235 for use in nuclear weapons.