John Cairncross, the Fifth Man in the Cambridge spy ring that included Kim Philby, gave the Soviet Union the atomic secrets that made a significant contribution to Moscow’s atomic research. This is one of the findings in a new book, The Crown Jewels, by British author Nigel West and a former KGB officer, Oleg Tsarev, which is due to be published in April. The book uses previously unpublished Soviet intelligence documents and its findings are being serialized this week in London’s Daily Telegraph.
Cairncross was recruited as a Soviet agent before the Second World War and went on working for Soviet intelligence until well after the war was over. Britain and the U.S. were both engaged in atomic research and U.S. agents also passed material to Soviet intelligence, but the new book reveals that Cairncross was the first to betray valuable information. At the end of 1941, Cairncross gave his Soviet contacts a background report on the work of the government’s Uranium Committee, chaired by Cairncross’s boss, Lord Hankey. According to Soviet intelligence, this served as the basis for Moscow’s subsequent atomic research program. Cairncross went to his grave denying that he had passed atomic secrets to the USSR, but the files confirm that, in fact, he played a crucial role. The book’s authors have promised that, after it is published in April, the documents they used will be made available to scholars worldwide. (The Daily Telegraph, January 12)
Karimov Spills Beans on Cancellation of Summit.