Gas Centrifuge Enrichment



1. John Krige, “Hybrid Kowledge: The Transnational Co-production of the Gas Centrifuge for Uranium Enrichment in the 1960s,” British J. for the History of Science, 45:3 (2012) 337-357.

The ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of knowledge circulation is explored in a study of the encounter between American and British nuclear scientists and engineers who together developed a gas centrifuge to enrich uranium in the 1960s. It explains how the US succeeded in forcing open the British program, and so to reassure themselves that they had not lost their lead in the development of the technology. For a pdf click here

2. John Krige, “Maintaining America’s Competitive Technological Advantage: Cold War Leadership and the Transnational Coproduction of Knowledge,” Humana.mente, 16:4 (April 2011), 33-51

This paper reworks the argument in the BJHS article to place coproduction – rather than transfer or diffusion – at the epistemological core of the analysis of the circulation of knowledge about gas centrifuges across national borders. It deals head-on with the power relations that shaped that encounter, and that occurred in an asymmetric field dominate by one pole, the US. For a pdf click here

3. John Krige, “U.S. Technological Superiority and the Special Relationship: Contrasting British and American Policies for Controlling the Proliferation of Gas Centrifuge Enrichment,” International History Review, 36:2 (2014), 230-251.

Anglo-American nuclear relations from the mid-1950s on are marked by Britain’s attempt to sustain its international significance as a Great Power even while it depended on a sustained flow of US nuclear secrets to build an ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent that could contribute usefully to the defense of Western Europe. A study of Anglo-American debates over the proliferation risks of gas-centrifuge enrichment in the late 1960s provides an ideal case study to illustrate the persistence of the tensions over the exchange of sensitive knowledge in the ‘civilian’ domain that had dominated the earlier negotiations over weapons science and technology. The United Kingdom, as one of the primary signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, thought it crucial to alert Washington to the dangers to the treaty posed by a revolutionary new enrichment process that threatened to ‘democratize’ the production of fissile material. US officials did not share their anxieties. Their major concern was to protect their technological lead and to use it as a political weapon to hem in Britain and those European allies who were developing gas-centrifuge enrichment. The British were once more made aware of the inequality inscribed in the special nuclear relationship deriving from the United States’ technological superiority.