LETTER: N-test lesson

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The Independent Online
IN 1956 I was privileged to visit J Robert Oppenheimer in his home in Princeton. We talked about Los Alamos and the first test of the atomic bomb. It was, Oppenheimer said, essentially a demonstration rather than a test. "But you must have learned something," I said. "Nothing," he said, "we had worked it out."

Allowing for hyperboles and allowing for the fact that Oppenheimer disliked politicians and the military, and allowing also that Oppenheimer was the most arrogant of humble men, it was quite an assertion.

In the light of that, and after 50 years of nuclear explosions, what is it that the French don't know? Are the current tests any more than a demonstration of power, a gesture of chauvinism, an "up yours" to the rest of the world?

Evan Jones

London SW15