Monthly Archives: August 2023

DRC and Nuclear History

Back after a month off from blogging.

The LRB has some history of the DRC’s nuclear reactor, much of which I did not know:

…the Americans were confident that the Katanga secession would protect the Shinkolobwe uranium mine from nationalisation – and from a Soviet hand in any new arrangements. Congolese uranium had been essential to the Manhattan Project; during the Second World War, the Office of Strategic Services (the precursor to the CIA) had set up a station in the Belgian Congo to protect the ore from both the Soviets and the Nazis. As the Cold War came to a head in the 1950s, the US agreed to fund Belgium’s nuclear energy programme in order to maintain the supply. Two first-generation reactors were built as a consequence, one in Belgium and one in the Belgian Congo. In August 1960, the US Atomic Energy Commission asked [CIA chief of station, Larry Devlin] to disable it in the event of a Soviet takeover by removing the fuel rods from the reactor – a reckless mission he declined.