First Lightning – The Soviet Nuclear Surprise

Startsi are the elder statesmen, the teachers, in the Russian Orthodox Church.  Of all the

St. Seraphim

St. Seraphim

Startsi, the most famous Staret in all of Russia is St. Seraphim of Sarov born in Kursk in 1759.  “It was said he could supply answers before visitors had time to ask their questions. He counseled tough cases of conscience and reportedly worked miracles, healing the sick” according to Dan Graves in his article St. Seraphim of Sarov, Renowned Staret.  It is ironic that Sarov would be transformed from a center of traditional learning and healing to a center of the new physics and philosophy of ‘uncertainty’; the birthplace of the Soviet’s first nuclear device.


Sarov’s story is as old as government.  At the very beginning of the Cold War, Sarov, the St. Seraphim monastery grounds, and the surrounding area were closed and rebranded as

Location Map for Arzamas-16

Location Map for Arzamas-16

Arzamas-16, the seat of nuclear physics for the old Soviet Union.  The town of Sarov occupies only eleven square miles of the 90 square mile hexagonally shaped Arzamas-16 area, which also houses research and production facilities.  “…Arzamas-16 is surrounded by an outer defensive ring 25 miles out that is carefully monitored. The city inside that ring is surrounded by a double, barbed-wire fence that is patrolled by the Russian army. Uniformed troops from the Russian Ministry of the Interior patrol the inner city. Areas that house nuclear materials are surrounded by multiple fences and walls, and the spaces between the fences are plowed and patrolled. Sensors are in place to detect unauthorized intruders….”[1]

The Soviet move on Sarov was similar to the action taken by the U.S. government to build its nuclear infrastructure in Tennessee, Nevada, Alabama, Washington state, and elsewhere; the people who lived there were moved out and the military, scientific community and their workers moved in.  Maps were sanitized and the veil of secrecy dropped.   Arzamas-16 was the intellectual and industrial birthplace of the first Soviet nuclear test device and the brainchild of Igor Kurchatov, the Soviet’s first nuclear program director.  In the final analysis, Arzamas-16  represented a network of “secret cities” and research labs But wait, there’s more!

The Central Intelligence Agency – In the Beginning

This is the first in a series of articles that explores the iconic CIA and its use as a tactical weapon by the presidents of the Cold War (1947-1991).

A unique Cold War tactical weapon, the CIA was created by President Truman who did not like or

Harry S Truman 33rd President of the United States In office  April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953

Harry S Truman
33rd President of the United States
In office
April 12, 1945 – January 20, 1953

trust the quality and timeliness of the intelligence he was receiving. The agency was born to serveone master, the president, not the people.  The birth of the CIA was spawned by nasty surprises beginning with Truman’s sudden rise to the oval office upon Franklin D. Roosevelt’s death in Warm Springs, GA on April 12, 1945.[1] Truman and Roosevelt were estranged bedfellows thrown together to win an election. For his part, Roosevelt reportedly did not hold Truman’s intellect in high regard and Truman did not like Roosevelt’s politics. Certainly a portion of their mutual disdain was caused by then Senator Truman who chaired the Truman Committee. The committee had exposed considerable waste, fraud, and abuse by government defense contractors during WWII. It is not surprising that the two did not meet often and, in general, Truman was excluded from cabinet and most other high level meetings during his vice presidency. Continue reading