Soviet Union Gorbachev Goes on the Offensive

Moscow struggles to limit the damage of the Chernobyl disaster

For 18 days his silence resounded around the world. Then finally last week Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev publicly acknowledged the gravity of the April 26 accident that destroyed a nuclear reactor at the Chernobyl power station in the Ukraine and spread radioactive fallout across the globe. "For the first time ever," Gorbachev declared on Soviet TV, "we have confronted in reality the sinister power of uncontrolled nuclear energy."

The 25-minute speech was more than just an official explanation of the Chernobyl disaster, which forced the evacuation of nearly 100,000 Soviet people. It was a dogged effort by Gorbachev to strike back...

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