In 1948, on this day the Soviets successfully detonated a prototype nuclear bomb, codenamed First Lightning. This would herald a new phase in the relations between the Soviets and the Allies.
Operation Solstice #3
By Steven FisherTensions had been rising between the two ever since the Potsdam Conference, when the Allies had refused to hand over land that had been assigned to the Soviets during the Yalta Conference. The change had been brought about by Russian setbacks during the German Operation Solstice, which resulted in Patton seizing Berlin, and the Allies liberating Prague before the Soviets. Stalin had been furious over this, but he realized that the Soviet Union was not ready to fight the Allies yet. The USSR had been devastated in the war against the Nazi's, and the damage needed to be repaired before they could confront the Allies openly.
The alliance of convenience between the Allies and the Soviets had quickly collapsed after the end of World War 2. Conflicts had quickly flared up between communist and democratic factions around the globe. Wars had begun in the divided Korea, in Greece, and had resumed in China. Overt support by democracies in the form of military forces had been balanced by covert Soviet aid to communist factions by sending them weapons, and dispatching "volunteers" to warzones to help communist factions.
The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War 2 sent a bold signal to the Soviets. It showed Stalin that the only way the Allies would have no qualms about using nuclear weapons against him in the event of war. To counter this, he accelerated the Soviets nuclear bomb program, pouring funds into it, and supplying it with information stolen from the Americans. This enormous effort paid dividends, and the Soviets finished their prototype in late 1948. With their efforts successful, the Soviets began producing a large stockpile of nuclear weapons, to counter the Americans.
Conflict would loom in late 1949, as the Communist forces of Mao Ze Dung drove Chiang Kai Shek's Kuomintang off the mainland. It would be coupled with the beginning of US efforts to develop the hydrogen bomb. A mutual defense pact between the USSR and China, coupled with the outbreak of pro-communist riots in France, and the formation of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, brought tensions to the forefront. On April 9, 1950, Stalin would send an ultimatum to NATO, demanding the turning over of the land forming the Soviet occupation zone as per the Yalta Conference. The American refusal was accompanied by an upgrading of alert status, and the mobilizing of reserves. It is to be the spark for World War 3
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