Science: France's Atomic Status

As the clouds of political fury drifted away after the French atomic explosion, the world's scientists last week had their first chance to take a calm, studied look at the French achievement. Even the high commissioner of the French Atomic Energy Commission joined in the dispassionate stocktaking. Said trim, goateed Francis Perrin: "It [the explosion] gives us no more than a folding seat, and not an armchair, in the atomic club. One must not entwine the vain sense of glory around this experiment."

But though little noticed, France has developed a solid and tidy atomic capability. The fissionable substance in the French...

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