1990-08-01 – CIA – Concatenated JPRS Reports, 1990 – Chernobyl

1990-08-01 - CIA - Concatenated JPRS Reports, 1990 - Chernobyl

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DocUllellt Date:
Report Type:
Report Ruaber:
01 Aug 90
JPRS Report
Report Date:
UDC Rwaber:
Author(s): OGONEK correspondent Vanda Beletsk.aya: ”OGONEK
Correspondent Vanda Beletskaya Talks Vith Academician
Anatoliy Petrovich Aleksandrov”; date and place not
give; first six paragraphs are OGONEK introduction]
Headline: Former Academy President Aleksandrov on Chernobyl,
Source Line: 917A0006A Moscow OGONEK in Russian No 35, Aug 90 pp
Subslug: (Interview with Academician Anatoliy Petrovich Alek.sandrov
by OGONEK correspondent Vanda Beletskaya: ”OGONEK
Correspondent Vanda Beletskaya Talks Vith Academician
Anatoliy Petrovich Aleksandrov”; date and place not give;
first six paragraphs are OGONEK introduction]
1. [Interview with Academician Anatoliy Petrovich Aleksandrov by
OGONEK correspondent Vanda Beletskaya: ”OGONEK correspondent vanmr———-~~—~
Beletskaya Talks Vith Academician Anatoliy Petrovich Aleksandrov”;
date and place not give; first six paragraphs are OGONEK
2. (Text] I arrived in advance at the Institute of Atomic Energy
imeni Kurchatov. Time remained until the appointed hour, and I
wandered about the grounds of the institute, which Anatoliy Petrovich
Aleksandrov headed for nearly 30 years, and thought about the fate of
the scientist, which just recently seemed so fortunate to everyone.
3. Be was an undergraduate of Kiev University, when Academician A.P.
Ioffe (a student of Roentgen himself!) invited him to work at the
famous Leningrad Physical Technical Institute •••• Then work and
friendship with I.V. Kurchatov. The light of the reputation of the
legendary scientist also falls on Aleksandrov, who after the death of
Igor Vasilyevich was in charge of the solution of the atomic problem.
4. Academician Aleksandrov, three times Hero of Socialist Labor, has
orders, nearly all the ones that have been established in the country
(eight Orders of Lenin!). There are all the prizes–the Stalin Prize,
the Lenin Prize, the State Prize.
5. Vhen in 1975 Anatoliy Petrovich became president of the Academy
UNCLASSIFIED Approved or Release
2 1010
-COOl 75710
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of Sciences, he was already over 70 years old. But after expiration
of the term scientists reelected him to this high post. Recognition
in the country, recognition abroad. An honorary member of the
academies of many countries of the world ••••
6. And suddenly ”the president of the Academy of Sciences of the
era of stagnation ••• ,” ”the author of the Chernobyl
catastrophe •••• ”
7. Our conversation also began with the accident.
8. OGONEK: Anatoliy Petrovich, much has already been written about
the causes of the Chernobyl catastrophe, but I would like to find out
your point of view.
9. A.P. Aleksandrov: You pose the question tactfully, but actually
you probably want to hear whether I consider myself responsible for
the the accident. You need not apologize, it is nothing •••• That I
have not heard in recent times •••• Here is what I will say to you:
Chernobyl is a tragedy of my life as well. I feel this every second.
Vhen the catastrophe occurred and I found out what a complicated
thing they had begun to do there, I nearly went to kingdom come. I
was in very bad condition. That is why I decided to leave the post of
president of the Academy of Sciences and even turned in this regard
to Gorbachev. Colleagues stopped me, but,-believed that I mun–du—–that.
Hy duty, I believed, was to put all my energy into the
improvement of the reactor.
10. To be answerable for the development of atomic power engineering
and specifically for the Chernobyl catastrophe are different things.
Judge for yourself. Although, incidentally, I am convinced that
everything related by me will cause a new stream of abuses on my old
bald head. But I would be acting against my conscience if I were to
agree with the opinion that now one must not develop atomic power
engineering and all nuclear power plants should be shut. Mankind’s
rejection of the development of atomic power engineering would be
disastrous for mankind. Such a decision is no less ignorant, no less
monstrous than the experiment at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,
which directly led to the accident.
11. OGONEK: Did you know about it?
12. A.P. Aleksandrov: That is the tragedy of it, that I did not
know. Not I, not anyone at all at our institute. And the designer of
the reactor which is at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant,
Academician Dollezhal, also knew nothing about this. Vhen I later
read a description of the experiment, I was simply horrified. I will
not go into the technical details, I will merely say that the
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experiment involved the takeoff of excess heat. Vhen the reactor is
shut down, the the turbogenerator owing to inertia turns and provides
current, which it is possible to use for the needs of the plant.
13. OGONEK: Vho devised the experiment?
14. A.P. Aleksandrov: The management of the nuclear power plant
commissioned Donenergo, an organization which had never dealt with
nuclear power plants, to prepare the plan of the experiment.
Dilettantes can be guided by the best intentions, but cause an
immense catastrophe, just as happened at Chernobyl.
·1s. The plant director, without enlisting even the chief engineer of
his nuclear power plant, a physicist who understands the gist of the
matter, concluded with Donenergo a contract ”on the performance of
work.” The schedule of the experiment was drawn up and sent for
consultation and approval to the All-Union Planning, Surveying, and
Scientific Research Institute imeni Zhuk. The associates of the
institute, who have some experience of working with nuclear plants,
did not approve the plan and refused to stamp it.
16. I now often think: If only the All-Union Planning, Surveying,
and Scientific Research Institute had notified anyone of usl But,
having not approved the plan, they could not even have assumed that
all the same they would decide to conduct–the experiment.
17. In our former ministry, the Ministry of Medium Machine Building,
they also did not know about the experiment. For the Chernobyl
Nuclear Power Plant had been transferred to the Ministry of Power and
Electrification. Perhaps, this was the first mistake ••••
18. It is possible to treat the former Ministry of Medium Machine
Building in all sorts of ways and to reproach it with the lack of
glasnost and excessive secrecy, but there were there professionals
and people disciplined in a military way, who observe instructions
precisely, which in our business is extremely important.
19. There is an instruction, which the personnel of any nuclear
power plant are obliged to observe. This is a guarantee of its
safety. Thus–you will not believe itl–at the very beginning of the
schedule of the experiment it is recorded: ”Shut off the emergency
reactor cooling system–the SAOR system.” But precisely it switches
on the emergency protection system. Vhat is more, all the valves were
closed, so that it would be impossible to switch on the protection
20. The schedule of the experiment violates on 12 occasions our
instruction on the operation of nuclear power plants. You would not
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dream such a thing in a terrifying dream. The nuclear power plant
operated for 11 hours with a disconnected emergency reactor cooling
system! As if the devil supervised and prepared the explosion.
21. OGONEKz But who specifically from Donenergo was the author of
the experiment? Is this person now alive? Vhat is his fate?
22. A.P. Aleksandrov: A certain Metlenlto. I know nothing about his
fate, except that he is alive. I judge no one.
23. OGONEK: Anatoliy Petrovich, but flaws exist in the very design
of the type of reactor that is at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power
Plant ••••
24. A.P. Aleksandrov: Yes, they exist. However, the cause of the
accident is all the same the ill-considered experiment and the gross
violation of the instruction of the operation of nuclear power
plants. Reactors of this type are at both the Leningrad Nuclear Power
Plant and the Kursk Nuclear Power Plant •••• In all there are 15. Just
think, why did an accident occur at Chernobyl, but not at Leningrad?
25. Understand, the reactor has drawbacks. It was developed by
Academician Dollezhal long ago, with allowance made for the knowledge
of that time. Nov these drawbacks have been reduced and offset. It is
not a matter of the design. You are driving a car, you turn the
steering wheel in the wrong direction–an accident! Is the engine to
blame? Or the designer of the car? Everyone will reply: ”The
unskilled driver is to blame.”
26. OGONEK: Vhere is the guarantee that among the personnel, who
service other nuclear power plants, there are no ”unskilled
drivers”? For you yourself, Anatoliy Petrovich, repeatedly warned
about the need to train such specialists better. I myself heard this
from you more than 10 years ago. You said that among the people, who
operate nuclear power plants, vigilance had become less keen, that
they had become relaxed and are forgetting about the danger, inasmuch
as God is merciful and there have been no serious accidents. You
· spoke about a plan of establishing in Obninsk, on the basis of the
first nuclear power plant, an international school. You warned that
the calm can inadvertently be broken ••••
27. A.P. Aleksandrov: I did not speak that foolishly. But,
unfortunately, an international school was never established. I
believe that now it is still not too late to return to this plan.
28. It turned out that new nuclear power plants went into operation
and more and more people were drawn into the system of their
maintenance. And–no matter how painful it is to admit this–they
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began to train specialists worse.
29. OGONEK: But before Chernobyl were there really no ”irregular
situations” at our atomic reactors? The accident during the tests of
a reactor in the southern part of the Urals is now common knowledge.
They told me that only you, Anatoliy Petrovich, kept your head and
instantly inserted the control rods, which saved it from an
explosion. General Vannikov, chairman of the scientific and technical
council for the uranium project, noted at that time: ”In this minute
you earned your wage for all your subsequent life.”
30. A.P. Aleksandrov: There was such an incident, near
Chelyabinsk •••• And at nuclear power plants accidents have occurred.
However, skilled specialists, who operate the nuclear power plants,
always saved them from explosions.
31. At the Kola Plant there was, for example, such an incident,
which miraculously did not end tragically. One of the attendants (and
at the Kola Plant there are very competent people!) noticed that
steam was coming from a pipeline. They shut the plant down. And what
of it? A crack was progressing along the welded seam. They cut out
this gate valve and sent it for study. It turned out: Production had
been completely violated. An iron rod had been placed under the
Y-shaped welded seam, while from above, as though they had welded on
the metal in conformity with the technology,–rtwas filled up With an·~~~~
electrode. The seam did not have strength. A little longer, and an
accident would have been inevitable! I came at that time to the Kola
Plant. They shut the plant down. They inspected all the seams and
32. There turned out to be 12 gate valves with such seams, 12
potential accidents!
33. OGONEK: Where did they make the gate valves? Vhy did they miss
the defective output at the plant? For X-ray inspection immediately
reveals such defects.
34. A.P. Aleksandrov: The Chekhov Plant near Moscow made this
ill-intentioned defective plant output. They hurried when they made
it, they hurried when they accepted it. On the drawing it was even
written: ”Exempt from X-ray inspection.” They never found who wrote
this. Evidently, it was very advantageous for the plant to deliver
the order more quickly.
35. I and Slavskiy (our Minister of Medium Machine Building) could
not leave it at that. Ye raised the issue in the Council of
Ministers, a special investigation took place. At that time they did
not punish anyone at the plant, and it is a pity …. The gate valves,
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however, were rewelded. .. ….. ·.• . ..
36. There was another incident, a very unpleasant one, at the
Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant, which ended, fortunately, happily.
Nothing was also reported about it in the press. They noticed that
during the operation of the nuclear power plant the vibration of the
turbogenerator was increasing, its magnitude was approaching the
limit. They instantly shut down the machine–a 500,000-watt
turbogenerator. It turned out that the armature of the generator had
been welded in such a way that a crack was progressing along the
welded seam. Another 15-20 seconds, and the turbine plant would have
disintegrated I
37. They shut down and inspected all the reactors. It turned out
that there was the same flaw in seven machines! Again they conducted
an investigation. This time the Kharkov Turbine Plant was to blame. I
went there together with Paton.
38. It was after such facts that they established the system of
atomic energy supervision.
39. OGONEK: However, shutdowns of nuclear power plants are
continuing. There are assertions of specialists that industry of the
country is not ready today to provide atomic power engineering with
sound equipment. Hence, nuclear power pTants are operating on the—-~—-··-·–·—–·—··verge
of risk ••••
40. A.P. Aleksandrov: No, it is impossible to say that. It is
necessary to talk not so much about the level of development of
industry as about its incorrect organization. Vhen it comes to such
a complex product, saving, haste, and any competitions there are not
needed. It is necessary to pay workers for quality.
41. Ve went once with the same Slavskiy and the Minister of the
Shipbuilding Industry (I do not remember who he was at that time) to
a plant, where they manufactured machines for the nuclear fleet.
Slavskiy said to the minister: ”Let us make it the first business
that in all operations every element would undergo personal
acceptance, the entire structure of the seams would be accepted by
layers. To hell with all socialist competitions. Pay for a well-made
seam, do not hurry the foremen.”
42. Ve did not have any mishaps in the fleet plants, but at that
time, in 1957, industry was less developed, yet it does not matter,
they managed.
43. I will say the following: Atomic power engineering is a stimulus
for the development of industry in general. One must not shut it down
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now for 15-20 years, as some people propose. This would mean to lose
specialists completely, and then to repeat the entire path all over
again. As it is, our specialists under the pressure of public opinion
are scattering in all directions.
44. The persecution of atomic power engineering, which has begun in
the country, greatly disturbs me. An entire sector of science and
industry cannot be ostracized. In this respect there is already the
negative experience with genetics and cybernetics. Now it is not just
not fashionable, but even not safe to say such a thing. And I do not
know whether you will publish our conversation. But I have strived
all my life to assert only what I am convinced of. I am convinced as
before of the necessity of the development of atomic power ·
engineering for the country. I am convinced that in case of the
correct approach to it and the observance of all the rules of
operation it is safer and ecologically more reliable than thermal
power plants, which pollute the air, and hydroelectric power plants,
which spoil rivers.
45. Vhen they were starting up a nuclear power plant, I often took
there my own children, then grandchildren. I remember that I came
with my younger son, a school boy, to the tests of the
nuclear-powered vessel Lenin. But it is possible to have an explosion
not only at any plant, but also in one’s own kitchen •••• —
46. Perhaps, I am exaggerating, but it seems to me that nuclear
power plants have now become hostages of someone’s political
interests. If the pickets near plants are actually worried about the
safety of the population living there, and not about their own
vanities, how it is possible to contribute to the disruption of the
operation of nuclear power plants, to make the attendants nervous,
not to let through the employees, who are coming to take the shift,
and even to beat them up? In a nervous state attention is distracted,
a worked-up person can also make a mistake and not pay attention to a
scarcely noticeable deviation in the operation of mechanisms. This,
after all, is also clear to a child! Bow can the champions of ecology
and safety not understand the obvious? For in case of an accident the
people, whose interests the militant pickets are ostensibly
defending, will suffer. Today they are blocking the Khmelnitskiy
Nuclear Power Plant, tomorrow they will set to work on the Leningrad
Nuclear Power Plant. Vell, it is incomprehensible to me, an old man.
For the life of me, it is incomprehensible.
47. It is another matter when people demand glasnost and truthful
information about the actual state of affairs in atomic power
engineering. To tighten up supervision, to make more strict the
monitoring of the construction, acceptance, and operation of nuclear
power plants–this is understandable. Everyone, and specialists first
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of all, are vitally interested in the operating safety of nuclear
power plants.
48. Operating safety is the only criterion of the existence of
nuclear power plants. It is possible to fulfill it only by taking
into account the already available experience of operation. Vhy
destroy a sector of industry, in which scientists, engineers, and
designers, who nevertheless were worth something, worked? For all the
same one cannot do without atomic power engineering, and the new
generation will inevitably have to return to this and to begin
everything from scratch.
49. OGONEK: Vere you a member of the commission on the causes of the
Chernobyl accident?
50. A.P. Aleksandrov: No, from our institute Legasov was on the
government commission. Be helped greatly in eliminating the
consequences of the catastrophe.
51. OGONEK: The suicide of the 50-year-old academician stunned
everyone. Is he also a victim of Chernobyl?
52. A.P. Alek.sandrov: There he became very tired and worn out. And,
of course, he experienced very much, understanding the dimensions of
the disaster. But to not extent did he himself have anything to do
with the accident. This could not have influenced his decision. I
was the director of the institute, he was merely a deputy. He, just
as our entire institute, knew nothing about the experiment being
readied at the plant.
53. I relied on Valeriy Alekseyevich as my successor. An excellent
organizer, a young, very creative man. Not for a minute do I think
that his elimination was advantageous to anyone. Such rumors also
went around.
54. It is difficult with all this. Here one must take into account
both heredity (his brother committed suicide) and the fact that
earlier there was a suicide attempt. It is not ruled out, of course,
that the situation, fatigue, and nervous strain prompted the tragedy.
I would not want now to judge and lay down the law ••••
55. All the horror fell on me at once–Chernobyl, the loss of dear
people–my wife and my student, to whom I wanted to turn over the
institute, a part of my life ••••
56. OGONEK: Did you at that time also send in your resignation from
the post of president of the Academy of Sciences?
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57. A.P. Aleksandrov: I remember my presidency with a heavy feeling.
Vhen the burden fell, I felt better. I cannot tolerate administrative
positions, I was completely unprepared morally for the high post and
did not want to take it.
58. OGONEK: But why did you agree? I remember how scientists said at
that time that the situation at the Academy was complex. The majority
would vote only for you, but you all the same would not agree to
become president.
59. A.P. Aleksandrov: Bow much effort I spent to resist! From the
sentiment of scientists and my colleagues and friends I actually had
grounds to assume that they would not accept my refusal to accept
and, very likely, the majority would vote for me.
60. It is no secret that the candidate for president of the Academy
of Sciences in our country was always discussed in the government,
more precisely in the Politburo. If it were not for the secret vote
of academicians, they would, very likely, simply have appointed him
61. Having found out that the choice had fallen on me, I set off to
see Ustinov, whom I knew and with whom I was connected through work
for long years. I asked him to persuade them to leave me in peace. I
tried in vain–”I do not want even to drscuss it, agree1~I also
met with Suslov. The result was the same.
62. However, I still did not consent! Hstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh
convinced me. Here is in whom the sense of duty and responsibility
was developed! Apparently, at one time he was himself faced with the
same dilemma as I was.
63. Vell, and when they elected me, I worked and did not spare
64. OGONEK: Did you of ten have to agree to compromises?
65. A.P. Aleksandrov: It depends on what kinds. All compromises are
not alike. I, you know, do not like bold clever people who, while
sitting today in safe warmth and comfort, condemn everyone in
succession. They self-confirm themselves that way, do they? They have
not dreamed about our problems and difficulties. It is customary to
curse scientists in particular. That one worked during the years of
Stalin repressions, this one worked during the years of Brezhnev’s
stagnation. Just where w~uld our science be, if it had not been for
these scientists?!
66. OGONEK: Yes, one has occasion sometimes to hear that Sergey
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Ivanovich Vavilov is bad (”Bow did he agree to be president of the
Academy,-when his brother was in prison?”), Petr Leonidovich Kapitsa
is not good (”Vhy did he write to Stalin and, besides, attempt to
make him change his mind?”), Kurchatov is the wrong person (”Bow
could he admit in Beria’s- torture chambers that he, and at the same
time the entire institute of Kapitsa, sold out to the
capitalists?”), and Korolev and Keldysh–all are bad.
67. A.P. Aleksandrov: I knew many of them. They had behind them not
bold speeches at rallies and on television, but scientific works and
deeds. They were forced to proceed from the rigid framework of the
circumstances, into which fate had placed them. And it hurts me when
they judge them today. It is an ignoble role.
68. Vell, about myself personally •••• In science I did not allow
compromise. At least I tried not to. But in relations with people, in
politics, in relations with the authorities ••••
69. At the beginning of the war our group worked on the degaussing
of ships, so that fascist mines would not destroy them. The work had
. been conducted back before the war. Professor Regel, a very talented
scientist and a fine person, belonged to our group. He and I were
close. But after the war, when the work on the atomic problem began,
they removed Vadim Robertovich. And I agreed, but meanwhile I could
have gotten my way. But I was afraid not for myself, but for hlm. I
was afraid that they would oppress and torment him. I could have
insisted that they give him to me, at that time my work was very
necessary, but was there certainty that under those circumstances his
life would be preserved? Alas •••• That is why I agreed.
70. OGONEK: Did Vadim Robertovich understand this? Did you talk
with him?
71. A.P. Aleksandrov: Such things are not discussed among men. Ve
trusted each other–that is sufficient.
72. OGONEK: Vere you also friends later?
73. A.P. Aleksandrov: Of course. Or here are my relations with Petr
Leonidovich Kapitsa. Vhen Beria removed him from the post of director
of the Institute of Physical Problems, which he established, they
appointed me in place of him. Do you imagine that it was pleasant for
me? Before this there was an analogous situation at the Kharkov
Physical Technical Institute, for which they also intended me in
place of the removed director. True, at that time I extricated
myself: It is not, I said, my theme, I work in Leningrad in
Kurchatov’s direction. This time I did not have a leg to stand on.
The heavy water plant, according to Kapitsa’s idea, was along the
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lines of the works of Kurchatov, our research.
74. I was transferred with my Leningrad laboratory to the Institute
Physical Problems and tried to see to it that no person suffered, no
person was dismissed. At the request of Petr Leonidovich we even sent
to him at Nikolin Mountain, where he conducted his experiments in a
barn, his associate and assistant Filimonov. And when later they
reinstated Kapitsa, I returned the institute to him with pleasure.
And what is interesting, he included me later in the collective for
the Lenin Prize for the works, which were also performed during the
period of my directorship and in which I had participated. But I, of
course, refused, although Kapitsa himself spoke with me.
75. It would seem that it is a trifle, but I was never able to see
to it that they conferred on this institute the name of its founder
and director, Academician P.L. Kapitsa, even in our times of
perestroyka. Vhen Trapeznikov was the chief of the science department
of the Central Committee, I appealed to him lllally times, and I spoke
with Zimyanin, and comparatively recently with Medvedev, but again
the result is negative. It is supposedly impossible because the name
of Sergey Ivanovich Vavilov has been conferred on the Institute of
Physical Problems. Ve explained: It is possible to confer the name of
Vavilov on the Optics Institute, with which he was directly related.
76. OGONEK: Did you have occasion to meerBerta?———- ·~~~
77. A.P. Aleksandrov: Yes. He was a frightening, disgusting man. Ve
all understood this. The life of each of us depended on him ••••
78. I remember the following detail. I sent to the Defense Committee
the proposal to introduce at one of the plants the method of
obtaining deuterium, which had been developed by us at Kapitsa’s
Institute. But I must say that during the laboratory tests there was
an explosion. They invited me to a meeting of a special committee.
Beria, of course, ran the meeting. Makhnev (there was such a general,
he dealt with the uranium problem) reported to Beria that I was
proposing to build a plant for obtaining deuterium. I sat right here
(incidentally, next to Beria), but he seemed not to see me, as if I
was a nonentity. He asked Makhnev whether, he said, your Aleksandrov
knows that the experimental plant had exploded. Makhnev replied that
he knows. ”And does he insist that he is not withdrawing his
signature?” Makhnev responded that he is not. ”And does he know
that if the plant explodes, he will go where Makar drives calves?”
79. I ought to have kept quiet, but I could not contain myself. ”l
visualize this,” I said. Only now did he deign to notice me. He
turned his head: ”And still you are not removing your signature?
Vell, take care.” To this day everything with the plant is in order.
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80. But Beria vetoed the idea of developing atomic plants for ships
as far back as 1945 (at the same Institute of Kapitsa we had begun to
design such a reactor}. Only the atomic bomb interested him. It is a
pity that it was that way. For we began to design nuclear-powered
vessels earlier than. the Americans began to design the Nautilus.
81. Beria is the past. But then the perpetuation of the memory of
Academician Kapitsa, while students, who knew him, his widow, and his
children are still alive, is a present, vital matter.
82. OGONEK: Vho settles the questions of perpetuating the memory of
scientists, if not the Academy of Sciences?
83. A.P. Alek.sandrov: Vhat do you mean who? The Politburo, the KGB.
It was always that way before. Perhaps, now something will change, I
do not know ••••
84. I always tried to change what it is still possible to correct,
and to accept what it is not in your power to change.
85. Now, in my opinion, it is possible to change the situation with
”blue blood,” which in my days as president of the Academy I was
unable to do.
86. OGONEK: Our journal wrote about this. But they brought a suit
against OGONEK.
87. A.P. Alek.sandrov: Vell, well. Provided the KGB or the procuracy
was implicated in the case, be you whoever you like, you will not get
88. The case with ”blue blood” is of the following sort. Two
organs–the Academy of Sciences and the State Committee for Science
and Technology, where Guriy Ivanovich Marchuk was at that
time–supervised the work on the development of blood substitutes.
They began to carry out the theme under the supervision of
Academician Yuriy Ovchinnikov. Professor Feliks Beloyartsev directly
conducted the research in Pushchino, at the Institute of Biophysics
under Corresponding Member Genrikh Ivanitskiy.
89. I supervised this work a little, they made the fluorocarbons at
one of our plants. Of course, medical personnel, civilian and
military, also participated.
90. They completed the experiments on animals, clinical tests were
begun. The military gave permission for the use of the new blood
substitute in Afghanistan. There this saved many people. Things went
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well. I do not recall who at that time gave a report on this at the
Academy of Sciences, but I precisely recall that then Yuriy
Ovchinnikov (a vice president at that time) spoke very benevolently
and praised the work. Vait, you are the one who wrote at that time in
OGONEK that the work was very talented and promising.
91. But the events developed as follows. The research on ”blue
blood” was submitted for the State Prize. I participated in the
preliminary discussion and felt that there was not complete agreement
concerning the collective which had been submitted for the prize. And
at that time, perhaps, foolishly, at an operations meeting for half
an hour I related before the presidium that the work was being
proposed for the prize, but there were difficulties with regard to
the collective and it was necessary to elaborate the matter. And
suddenly to my complete surprise Ovchinnikov got terribly excited,
jumped up, and began to say in raised tones that the research had not
been completed, while Genrik.h Ivanitskiy was misrepresenting, was
misleading everyone, and was all but giving false information about
the results of the clinical testing of the preparation.
92. Such behavior of Yuriy Ovchinnikov was completely
incomprehensible to me. Some people at that time conjectured that
Yuriy Anatolyevich himself wanted to be in the collective of authors.
But this is not so. Ovchinnikov from the very start of the
nomination for the prize was not among tneauthors of the work,-he—————-~himself
did not want to be included. At one time precisely
Ovchinnikov signed the document concerning the fact that Ivanitskiy,
the director of the institute at which the work was performed, should
be the supervisor of the research.
93. I asked Academician Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Bayev, he was
closer than I to this matter, he is a biologist. Be replied: ”I do
not understand myself why Yuriy Anatolyevich get wound up. This
happens with him, perhaps, it will pass. Let us wait.”
94. A very little time passed, and suddenly Ovchinnikov gave me a
little note about the fact that fluorocarbons had been studied in
Japan and America and their use there in the clinic had not been
halted, since they have a bad effect on patients. Therefore, we must
also halt the tests. I read the signature: Kryuchkov. Yes, the same
one, from the KGB, as now.
95. I as president of the Academy commissioned then Chief Scientific
Secretary Georgiy Konstantinovich Skryabin to set up a commission
made up of scientists. He agreed with me that the KGB·is not an
authority in science. Vhy should we halt the research, if they are
opposed? I recall that I advised enlisting on the commission
Academician Ivan Lyudvigovich Knunyants, a most prominent specialist
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in fluorocarbons. Bayev was also included there. I said to Skryabin
that they should examine particularly carefully the clinical tests
and see whether there were always the appropriate permits for them.
96. And then several members of the commission began to give in (and
I set up two commissions!). Their conclusion was to postpone the
nomination for the prize to the following year, and then once again
to examine the results and to make the decision accordingly.
97. Later the rumors that in the KGB they had put pressure on the
members of the commission, reached me. I shared my views with
Academician Vladimir Nikolayevich Kudryavtsev. He said: ”Vhat does
the KGB have to do with this? If Beloyartsev and Ivanitskiy violated
something, the procuracy and the militia should deal with it.”
98. Then the tragic events, about which you know, developed. In
Pushchino they made a search at Professor Beloyartsev’s place. Feliks
Feliksovich committed suicide •••• I believe that he was unable to
bear the suspicions of the unscrupulousness of the experiments. The
works were banned. It has not been possible to rehabilitate them.
Although medical personnel have a high opinion of them, for example,
Academician Shumakov. It is not ruled out that the priority of the
discovery will thus vanish from the country and we will buy the same
blood substitute for foreign currency. I am talking about this in
such detail, because it is still not tool.ate to correct the
situation with ”blue blood.” Now the times are a little easier,
although thus far I do not see serious positi~e results.
99. OGONBK: And what about glasnost? The appearance in our country
of democratic freedolllS? And what about Sakharov, finally? Is it
really not a triumph of justice that he returned from Gorkiy and
became a people’s deputy?
100. A.P. Alek.sandrov: I had in mind only the sphere of science.
Sakharov, of course, is a strong example. And, believe me, for me the
return of Andrey Dmitriyevich was a great joy.
101. OGONEK: Anatoliy Petrovich, Sakharov.addressed a letter to you.
Vhy did you not reply?
102. A.P. Aleksandrov: Vhat could I have replied?! I have already
said, after all, that it is necessary to fight while you can still
change something. Neither I nor Keldysh, under whom this happened,
could have revoked the exile of Sakharov to Gorkiy. Although, of
course, we considered it unjust, very unjust, and unpleasant for
everyone. True, I again spoke with Ustinov about whether it was
possible to return Sakharov to Moscow and what it was necessary to do
for this. He said: There is no hope. It is good that Sakharov is in
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Gorkiy, and not somewhere a little farther away. If you now start to
attract attention to him, it will be not better, but worse. His
conditions in Gorkiy are decent, he is working. He assured me that
nothing threatened the life and health of Andrey Dmitriyevich. Now
there is not what there was before, there are not the conditions,
under which we in our day worked, under Beria.
103. Many people probably do not like this, but I believed and
believe that the most agonizing thing for a scientist is when he does
not have the opportunity to busy himself with his own science. Bow
else am I to explain it to you? Many of us worked, for example,·on
the atomic problem in a certain isolation, while officially being
completely free. Kurchatov, I, and the same Sakharov. Therefore, I
did not regard the isolation and obstacles to contact with foreigners
as a tragedy.
104. Then I saw to it that they would let the fiancee of the son of
Yelena Georgiyevna Bonner go to America and herself to go abroad to
undergo treatment. Of course, I did everything for Sakharov, he had,
after all, gone on hunger strikes on this account ••••
105. It is possible to cast stones at both me and Keldysh. However,
while presidents of the Academy of Sciences, we did not allow the
expulsion of Sakharov from its members. But they put pressure on us,
and very much pressure. Everyone understan-OS-fliis. Bow many times I
explained myself in the Central Committee, in the Politburo, in the
government •••• Vriters surely expelled Pasternak, they expelled many
from the Union of Vriters.
106. Of course, it was possible to scandalously submit my
resignation on account of Sakharov. At that time they would no longer
kill me, there was not what there was under Beria, when they were
quite able to do that. Only it would hardly have become better for
Sakharov. And, in general, I do not like this ”if” and ”and.” I
did not submit my resignation then, I stayed. And I even bore my
burden of responsibility, when they elected me to a second term. Of
the 180 members of the Academy 168 voted by secret ballot ”in
favor.” Just as the first time. And quite frankly I believe that I
was not the worst president of the Academy of Sciences. However, it
is not for me to judge this.
107. And here is what else I will say about Sakharov. I and Keldysh
tried to keep him for science. Differing, very likely, with the
majority of admirers of Andrey Dmitriyevich, I believe that what was
done by Academician Sakharov for science and his scientific works
will remain in our history. All the rest is temporary, transient
passions, which with time will pass and then will be forgotten. Vhile
of all his democratic activity in defense of rights his protest
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against the Afghan war will remain.
108. I also did not understand why we stuck our hand in there. At
the Academy of Sciences in the lobby many people were indignant. Only
those, who dealt with international economics, talked of the fact
that we had invested much capital there and would not want to lose
it •••• But that way we lost more–the lives of people ••••
109. OGONEK: They deprived Academician Sakharov of an award which he
received precisely for a contribution to science ••••
110. A.P. Aleksandrov: The Academy of Sciences could not prevent
this. The government made do without us, they did not ask for the
consent of scientists.
111. OGONEK: Anatoliy Petrovich, what do you think of your own
awards? Now it is all but customary to be ashamed of received orders.
On television you see: At conferences, at meetings of the session of
the Supreme Soviet, and even at the party congress there are few
people with awards on their chest •••• You also do not wear them ••••
112. A.P. Aleksandrov: Let those, who received them for nothing and
whom they cost nothing, be ashamed of orders. I know for what I
received every award of mine.
113. I received my first Order of Lenin, for example, during the war
for the degaussing of ships, which saved thousands of lives of
sailors. I received my first Bero of Socialist Labor Star for works
on the obtaining of fuel for the development of atomic weapons. I
received the second one for the nuclear plant for the icebreaker
Lenin, the third one also for scientific developments ••••
114. True, I received foreign orders, I do not know for what,
probably for the total combination of scientific works ••••
115. But I do not wear the orders, I simply have so many of them, I
would be covered like a Christmas tree. But on solemn occasions I put
on the three Bero of Socialist Labor Stars.
116. OGONEK: You knew all the leaders of our country, starting with
Stalin, and met with them. Vhat do you think of Gorbachev?
117. A.P. Aleksandrov: Be is the only one of them, whom I like as a
person. But as the leader of the country •••• It is necessary to wait
with this.
118. OGONEK: And what worries you now in the affairs of the Academy
of Sciences?
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119. A.P. Aleksandrov: Something worries me. For example, the
establishment of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This is no good.
The union Academy of Sciences, which before the revolution was the
Imperial Academy of Sciences, existed more than 250 years. And it was
not bad, it was a quite worthy institute.
120. It upsets me that many scientists have gone up in the world,
without having grounds and scientific works for this.
121. OGONBK: llho specifically.
122. A.P. Aleksandrov: Vell, for example, Academician Zhuchenko. Bis
positions are quite strange, and the scientific contribution, which
he advertises, does not exist. In general with biology it was most
difficult of all for Keldysh, he came into a most distressing
inheritance: The students of Lysenko and its associates were in
power. But they do not want to surrender their positions even now.
123. I worries me that parascientific directions: extrasensory
perception, unidentified flying objects, and the like, have begun to
flourish. It is not the business of the Academy to encourage such a
thing. Although this is a trivial thing as compared with the decrease
of the pace of development of the basic sciences, in which with every
·- ,
year we are losing our positions. -·- _____ __,
124. Relations between people are also becoming more and more
complex, all kinds of confronting groups are emerging.
125. True, complex relations always existed among scientists. Like
those of bears in one den. Prominent scientists did not get on with
each other. At least when I was president, I had a hard time, I
always tried to see to it that science did not suffer. The examples
of this went beyond the walls of institutes long ago, for example,
the falling out of Academicians Basov and Prokhorov. Both are Nobel
Prize laureates and brilliant scientists, but together they felt
restricted. Here the solution was simple–they established for
Prokhorov a separate institute, and this completely justified itself,
science did not suffer and even profited.
126. Back under Keldysh, I remember, they dragged me into being
involved in the commission for rocketry. Yell, there was simply a
civil war among the missilemen! Korolev and Yangel were on one side,
Chelomey was on the other. The civilians were for Korolev and Yangel,
the military was for Chelomey.
127. OGONEK: And what position did you take?
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128. A.P. Aleksandrov: I tried to take a conciliatory position,
although, like Keldysh, I was on the side of Yangel (Korolev had
already died), on the side of the civilians. I will not touch upon
the essence, due to which the war flared up, it is nothing, it
existed and passed, like all arrogant passions. Another thing is
important–they did not use illicit methods in this group struggle.
They preserved personal decency. Now it happens differently.
129. Now, it seems to me, in scientific collectives the moral
climate is degenerating, the trust among colleagues and even between
the teacher and his students has been lost •••• The lack of respect
for a teacher is fraught with large moral losses.
130. OGONEK: They tell that there was such an incident in the life
of your teacher, Abram Pedorovich Ioffe. A quite young researcher
came to him and placed in front of the director several handwritten
pages. The conclusions of yesterday’s student, in essence, put an end
to the theme, on which the famous academician had been working, and
showed an error in his theory. Vas there, Anatoliy Petrovich,
actually such an incident, and how did the academician behave?
131. A.P. Aleksandrov: Be sat down to check everything from the very
start and understood that I was right, while he had made a mistake.
But Abram Fedorovich at that time was awfully enthusiastic about this
work of his on thin-layer insulation. He expected that it wouta————~—~—create
a revolution in aviation and machine building. It was hard for
him to give up an entire direction.
132. I was not seeking any error in the work of Iof fe, of course. I
-wanted to apply it in practice, but nothing was turning out for me,
for the life of me! Then I began to study everything myself and
discovered the error.
133. Later I together with Academician Ioffe published an article on
this error. But a part of the institute was already working on the
theme. It was necessary to put an end to the entire direction on
dielectrics and to reorganize the institute.
134. That was 60 years ago, it is awful how long ago it was ••• But
I will also say today–! am indebted to Abram Fedorovich Ioffe for
everything. ·
135. OGONBK: Did conflicts really not occur in your collective, did
no one quarrel with each other and take offense? After all, could
not such different people as future Academicians Semenov, Kapitsa,
Alikhanov, Khariton, Artsimovich, and Kurchatov look at everything in
the same way? For you yourself said–”bears in one den.”
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136. A.P. Alek.sandrov: At that time we were not yet ”bears.” Ve
were very young. And we revered the authority of our teacher. But we
looked at the world, of course, in different ways. And very likely we
both quarreled and took offense •••• Only I do not remember. But how
cheerfully, how enthusiastically we worked–! remember. Bow we
helped each other out, if someone’s instrument got out of order, how
we left our own jobs and started to repair it. Ve shared everything
with each other. Vell, when seminars were under way and we were of a
different opinion on a scientific problem, in the heat of the debate
we did not choose expressions. One of us, I remember, even shouted at
Ioffe himself: ”You have forgotten Ohm’s law!”
137. And here is what is interesting: At the institutes, which
people from the Leningrad Physical Technical Institute later headed,
there were also no conflicts and, in my opinion, there are none to
this day. Take if only the institutes of Semenov (now the director
there is Academician Goldanskiy) and Kapitsa. Petr Leonidovich was
particularly stern: If two people came to grips and he did not make
out who was right and who was at fault, he fired both.
138. OGONEK: Did your work on the atomic problem begin at Ioffe’s
139. A.P. Alek.sandrov: I did not begin immediately to concern myself
with atomic physics. At first they attaclied little importance in
general to this problem.
140. A strange thing happened. I remember that I and P.P. Kobeko,
later a corresponding member, developed a method of obtaining
cold-resistant rubber and introduced it at a plant. This direction
was regarded at the institute very nearly as the main one; when the
authorities came, they led them directly to us to boast. But they did
not show the authorities the nuclear physicists– Alikhanov and
Kurchatov–and their work. The authorities believed that they were
concerning themselves with nonsense. Ioffe from the very start
understood the importance of nuclear research and attached great
importance to it.
141. Later everything changed, when they discovered the fission of
uranium and got whiff of the bomb •••• But atomic weapons were our
basic work only for Beria and Stalin. All of us regarded it as forced
and temporary work. Kurchatov often said: ”God forbids that this be
used against people! Only a peaceful atom.”
142. OGONEK: The ”peaceful atom” proved to be unreliable. Now the
opponents of nuclear power plants and their supporters are demanding
the passage of a law on atomic power engineering. Vhat, in your
opinion, should it be like?
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143. A.P. Aleksandrov: It is very important to normalize the legal
aspect and to make accessible to the public literally everything–the
discussion of the design of nuclear power plants and the choice of
the construction site– and it is necessary to publish information on
all break.downs at nuclear power plants, including on those that do
not have any harmful consequences. The population of the regions,
where nuclear power plants operate, should benefit from this, which
it is necessary to stipulate in the law. Both a material benefit and
a benefit in the sense of the distribution of and payment for
electric power. It is also necessary, in my opinion, to envisage
privileges in medical examination and medical assistance to the
144. I am talking about the choice of the site for nuclear power
plants because there were shortcomings precisely here. The first
thing is that natural conditions, seismic surveying, and so on were
not always taken into account. (Although during the designing of the
Armenian Nuclear Power Plant they consulted with the Japanese, the
latter are also building in localities where 9-point earthquakes are
frequent. But, as they say, they have nowhere to go.) Second, the
opinion of the population of the republic was absolutely not taken
into account. In the legislation it should be clearly specified: If
the republic wants it, it is to be built, if the republic does not
want it, it is not to be built. But it w!Ir-not be as~o~rows–I-a~o~
not want a nuclear power plant nearby, but I want to get (and at a
low price!) electric power from another republic.
145. It is very important, in my opinion, to make provision in the
law for the study of the radioactive conditions at the site before
the construction of a nuclear power plant, so that it would be clear
what radiation there was earlier and what radiation there is from the
nuclear power plant. Incidentally, it is also necessary to take this
into account in case of any construction. There can be natural
radiation in any construction material, water, and so on.
146. The choice of the site and the design of the plant should be
approved not only by the minister, as was the case earlier, but also
by specialists, the Academy of Sciences, the Commission of the
republic Supreme Soviet ••••
147. OGONEK: Vill provision be made for the training of more skilled
personnel for nuclear power plants, which today particularly worries
148. A.P. Aleksandrov: Yes, both the establishment of special
courses and the introduction of new occupations at higher educational
institutions are here. It is necessary to allow to work at nuclear
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power plants people with a special diploma, and not with any
technical or physical diploma, as nov.
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149. Personnel are obliged to be checked periodically for
professionalism. After leave and illness, when skills disappear, ·
before starting work they are obliged to take examinations. Strictly
speaking, at one time long ago, in the beginning, it was also that
150. I would insert in the law a provision on the disposal of
radioactive waste. This is to be done only on hard rocks, in regions
where there are granite and basalt. Limestones and sands are
unsuitable, but they were used at times, in spite of our protests.
And so that during the danger period (300-500 years), in practice
never, they would not be dug up through the failure to understand.
151. OGONEK: Land dead for centuries, it is rather frightening ••••
152. A.P. Aleksandrov: Not dead, but protected, where no
construction and no economic activity are performed. It is possible,
after all, also to call it that.
153. OGONEK: Is the disposal of the radioactive waste of other
countries being carried out on the territory of our country? The
public protested, and now they assure usthaf1t–ui-riotl>eing-carriea _______________ _
out. But I cannot believe something ••••
154. A.P. Aleksandrov: And it is correct that you cannot believe. Ve
take the waste from the countries, where we are building nuclear
power plants in accordance with our own designs, and are supplying
them with fuel for the reactors? Are we to refuse to act that way? I
do not think that this is a reasonable statement of the question.
They dispose of it worse in their country, there is little territory
155. OGONEK: All countries prefer to dispose of it not at home, but
a little farther away. Prance, where nuclear power plants provide 70
percent of the power, is striving to send the waste to Pacific Ocean
islands ••••
156. A.P. Aleksandrov: There were instances of disposal on Pacific
Ocean islands. But for the most part the French are localizing the
bulk of the waste on their territory. And there have not been, thank
God, accidents at nuclear power plants, and there has also not been
elevated radiation.
157. It is entirely a matter of the standards of production.
-COOl 75710
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158. The publication in the general press of the draft of the law on
atomic power engineering and its discussion before passage in the
Supreme Soviet will relieve the tension that·has appeared today in
society in connection with atomic power engineering.
~9. The minimization of the danger is amoral, but its exaggeration,
the promotion of the spread of unverified rumors, and the invention
of all kinds of terrifying incidents, which worry people, are also
amoral. In this respect the law on the use of nuclear power will put
everything in its place.
160. OGONBK: And all the same, Anatoliy Petrovich, we cannot, after
all, say that nuclear power plants today are complete safe ••••
161. A.P. Aleksandrov: Ve cannot. A danger exists. Yet not only
scientists, but also the public are obliged to do everything in order
to reduce it. Strictly speaking, a reactor, in which physics itself
does not allow what happened at Chernobyl, has already been designed.
But time is needed in order to refine it. Passions are heating up
over operating nuclear power plants. Therefore, steps to make
monitoring more strict are also needed, a law on nuclear power
engineering is needed.