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Dimensions transnationales : interdépendances et impératifs d’une présence sur la scène mondiale

Quantum Tunneling through the Iron Curtain

The Soviet nuclear city of Dubna as a Cold War crossing point
Effet tunnel au travers du rideau de fer : la ville nucléaire de Dubna, point de passage pendant la guerre froide
Roman Khandozhko
p. 369-396


In this article, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) in Dubna, USSR, is considered as one of the institutional hubs in the complex mosaic of the “Global Cold War”. The paper discusses how the bureaucratic machinery of Soviet science and the authoritarian Soviet state in general, with its omnipresent state security apparatus and party control, responded to the challenges of scientific globalization in the field of high energy physics by creating an “international oasis” on its own territory. The author argues that establishing the research centre in Dubna helped the Soviet Union implement the policy of “nuclear imperialism” in the Eastern Bloc and facilitate access to the latest achievements of Western science and technology. At the same time, from the 1950s to the 1980s the Dubna institute functioned as an interaction zone in which stable informal relations between scientists from both sides of the Iron Curtain led to cultural and ideological interpenetration.

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Full-text article available to subscribers or on a "pay per view" basis. It will be available on this URL in January 2023.
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Dubna, on the Volga : from a secret laboratory to the shop window of socialism
Penetrating the Iron Curtain
The Communist Party as a manager of international communication

First lines

In the post‑World War II period, the Soviet Union became involved in the implementation of “big science” projects, the effectiveness and success of which depended directly on the continuous transfer of knowledge, technologies and materials within various local, national and transnational networks. One such project was high‑energy physics, the development of which in the second half of the twentieth century was built around experiments using high‑precision and expensive equipment – particle accelerators. The magnitude of technological tasks, along with political reasons, meant that in post‑war Western Europe, accelerator physics developed mostly as a transnational project. From 1950–54, resources were pooled in the creation of the Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire (CERN), which soon grew into one of the world’s largest particle physics research centers. The response from the other side of the Iron Curtain was not long in coming – two years later in the small city of Dubna ...

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Bibliographical reference

Roman Khandozhko, “Quantum Tunneling through the Iron Curtain”Cahiers du monde russe, 60/2-3 | 2019, 369-396.

Electronic reference

Roman Khandozhko, “Quantum Tunneling through the Iron Curtain”Cahiers du monde russe [Online], 60/2-3 | 2019, Online since 01 January 2023, connection on 16 May 2021. URL:; DOI:

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About the author

Roman Khandozhko

KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow,

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© École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris.

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