In 1945, on this day at the Potsdam Conference, Truman told Stalin that the United States "had a new weapon of unusual destructive force". Stalin responded that was he was glad to hear it and hoped the Americans would make "good use of it against the Japanese".
Wave of the FutureIn fact Truman's were advisers were urging him to use the bomb on Japan, pointed out that its employment would avoid an invasion saving the lives of up to two million American troops.
And at Posdam the moral dilemma had finally become a point of decision with the receipt of a coded telegram from Secretary of War Henry Stimson ~ "Operated on this morning. Diagnosis not yet complete but results seem satisfactory and already exceed expectations. Local press release necessary as interest extends great distance. Professor Leech pleased. He returns tomorrow. I will keep you posted"..
Winston Churchill recorded the moment in his diary ~ "I was perhaps five yards away, and I watched with the closest attention the momentous talk. I knew what the President was going to do. What was vital to measure was its effect on Stalin. I can see it all as if it were yesterday. He seemed to be delighted. A new bomb! Of extraordinary power! Probably decisive on the whole Japanese war! What a bit of luck! This was my impression at the moment, and I was sure that he had no idea of the significance of what he was being told. Evidently in his immense toils and stresses the bomb had played no part. If he had the slightest idea of the revolution in world affairs which was in progress his reactions would have been obvious. Nothing would have been easier than for him to say, "Thank you so much for telling me about your new bomb. I of course have no technical knowledge. May I send my expert in these sciences to see your expert tomorrow morning?" But his face remained gay and genial and the talk between these two potentates soon came to an end. As we were waiting for our cars I found myself near Truman. "How did it go?" I asked. "He never asked a question," he replied. I was certain therefore that at that date Stalin had no special knowledge of [Project Seal] the vast process of research upon which the United States and Britain had been engaged for so long..". (in fact records released after the Soviet Premier's death prove Stalin was aware of the underwater explosions triggering mini-tidal waves at Whangaparaoa in 1944 and 1945).
Because "Project Seal", the top-secret experiments off the coast of Auckland had enabled Professor Thomas Leech to perfect the tidal wave bomb. Disappointingly four thousand test explosions over a seven-month period had only generated minor tsunamis. Yet the addition of a nuclear charge provided the opportunity to created huge amounts of damage to coastal cities. And Truman favoured this tsunami bomb to an atomic doomsday weapon, clearly seeing the opportunity for a powerful demonstration inflicting industrial damage without an enormous loss of civilian life.
To ensure that the strike was not mistaken for an act of nature, Truman issued an urgent plea to Japan to surrender before detonating the tsunami bomb which he described as ~ "harnessing of the basic power of the universe. The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East... We are now prepared to obliterate more rapidly and completely every productive enterprise the Japanese have above ground in any city. We shall destroy their docks, their factories, and their communications. Let there be no mistake; we shall completely destroy Japan's power to make war. It was to spare the Japanese people from utter destruction that the ultimatum of July 26 was issued at Potsdam. Their leaders promptly rejected that ultimatum. If they do not now accept our terms they may expect a rain of ruin from the sea, the like of which has never been seen on this earth".
This final ultimatum was ignored and so on Monday, August 6, 1945 under the instruction of Leech the US Navy laid a pattern of underwater volcanic explosives to create a tsunami that would devastate the Tokyo Bay area. And bring the War in the Pacific to an abrupt close.