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On January 31, 1950, President Truman reluctantly ordered the Atomic Energy Commission to proceed with development of the hydrogen bomb. Political leaders of every shade of belief supported the decision, as did the American public, most statesmen of the western world, the Vatican, and others. The decision was taken, and was generally approved, because the Soviet Union had refused to agree to a workable scheme of international control of armaments, and had thus given the United States no choice but to engage in an arms race of unprecedented magnitude and intensity. The security of the United States and of the whole free world depended, it was almost universally agreed, upon victory or at least parity in this race. Subsequently it became known that the Soviet Union had begun its own thermonuclear research in 1945, and was ahead of the west in the technological struggle at the time of President Truman's decision.

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