In early 1952, Argonne’s head, Walter Zinn writes to his key administrative offsider, Joseph Boyce:
“This is to place on record your responsibilities in connection with the training of Belgian scientists in unclassified reactor technology.”
Boyce swings into action, setting up a full-time training program for five Belgian engineers, four physicists and a chemist (a later trade journal article numbers the attendees as eleven), held from April to June, 1952. Zinn himself gives a lecture on power reactor economics in mid-June.
Belgium is able to parlay with America (and England) its possession of, or access to, Belgian Congo uranium into assistance with early reactors, including world-class training at Zinn’s Argonne.
The question the historian puzzles over is this: why is Belgium, a speck of nation in the heart of Europe, interested in the atom? There are many answers to this question but precious little in the way of open recollection, and if I’m interested in multiple aspects of Belgium’s nuclear journey, one especially fascinating facet is a most shadowy one. The training Zinn gives the eleven Belgians focuses exclusively on peaceful power reactor technology but you must wonder: do they have any interest in the atom bomb?
Of course even today we wonder (and blabber aplenty about): do the Iranians have any interest in the atom bomb?
Zinn, Walter H. 1952. Zinn to Boyce, Mar. 28, 1952. Folder “Reading File, March 28, 1952”, Box 56, Laboratory Director’s Reading File, 1949-1957, RG 326, NARA-GL, Chicago, Illinois.
Boyce, J. C. 1952. Boyce to Zinn, Nov. 10, 1952. Folder “Reading File, November 10, 1952”, Box 68, Laboratory Director’s Reading File, 1949-1957, RG 326, NARA-GL, Chicago, Illinois.
Nucleonics. 1952. “Belgian scientists to study reactor technology during three-month stay at Argonne.” Nucleonics, 10, Jun., p. 74.