Department of State Atomic Energy Files
Memorandum by the Director of Central Intelligence
,] 15 December 1947.
||Senator B. B. Hickenlooper
||Mr. Robert A. Lovett
||Rear Admiral Thomas B. Inglis1
||Major General S. J. Chamberlin2
||Major General George C. McDonald3
||Major General L. R. Groves
||Dr. Vannevar Bush
||Admiral John Gingrich4
Subject: Status of Russian Atomic Energy Project.
- There is attached hereto the latest study on the Russian atomic energy
project prepared and coordinated with Scientific Branch—ONI, Scientific Branch—MID, and Director of Intelligence—AEC.
- The study contains many items of sensitive intelligence information
and it is strongly urged that its circulation be under appropriate
Interdepartmental Intelligence Study
To estimate the state of development of atomic weapons in the USSR and
probable future progress.
facts and discussion
See Appendix “A”5
- The USSR does not have atomic weapons now.
- Present activities relative to uranium development include:
- Prospecting for uranium.
- Exploitation of all known deposits in Russia and
- Stockpiling of uranium.
- Developing methods of producing pure uranium metal.
- These and presumably other aspects of the development of atomic
weapons are being pressed with vigor by the Russians.
- Shortages of equipment and apparatus are retarding the development
- Reserves in the form of salts and unprocessed ore are estimated to
be sufficient for the production of 300 to 450 tons of uranium
metal. The current ore production will yield 80 to 100 tons of metal
per year. This schedule can be maintained for three to five years
after which it will drop to 55 to 65 equivalent tons of
- The above stockpiles of uranium salts and ore combined with the
ore-to be mined within the next three to five years should be
sufficient for the production of 8 to 15 atomic bombs. The estimated
ore production rate, thereafter, would be sufficient for the
production of 1 to 2 bombs per year.
- This estimate presupposes that no hitherto unknown ore deposits of
appreciable magnitude will be developed and that no revolutionary
[Page 905] process for the
extraction of uranium from low grade ores will be developed. These
developments, however, would not alter the minimum estimated date
given below, although the quantity of bombs produced could be
- Many reports, often conflicting and vague, have been received
relative to the location of Soviet atomic activities. Analysis of
these reports with the basic intelligence available indicates that
important centers of atomic development are:
- Fergana Valley, near Tashkent, chemistry and
- Elektrostal, near Moscow, metal refining and
- South Central Urals—possibly isotope separation and
- Evidence indicates that the major effort is directed toward a
- There is no evidence that the USSR has a means for large scale
separation of uranium isotopes. Evidence that the plutonium project
would absorb all known uranium resources implies that isotope
separation is not in progress, although pilot plants are probably
- Only limited quantities of uranium metal, if any, are believed to
have been produced.
- In the light of intelligence information as to the date at which
it is likely that the Russian project could have started and the
direction in which it appears to be going, and assuming that the
USSR could not proceed faster that the U.S. and possibly not so
fast, it is doubtful that the Russians can produce a bomb before
1953 and almost certain they cannot produce one before 1951. A
probable date cannot be estimated.