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‘Switzerland wanted its own atomic bomb’ via SwissInfo

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Rotzetter’s installation will be on show at Kunstmusem Luzernexternal link through August 20. The museum describes his work as “figurative, direct, rough, forceful. One thing they are not is beautiful. In the tradition of Bad Painting, the artist cultivates a shrill to gloomy palette and uses strong contrasts”. 

swissinfo.ch: You are currently featured in an exhibition called “Swiss Atom Love”. What is it about?

Gilles Rotzetter: I tell the story of the Swiss atomic bomb. One month after Hiroshima, Switzerland decided to build its own atomic bomb.

swissinfo.ch: Who was responsible? And was there a secret plan?

G.R.: This is the interesting thing. It’s all very well documented. It was partly secret, but partly completely official – there are two parallel stories here. On the one hand, it’s about energy provision, with the story of the Swiss atomic bomb running beneath it. There was also a vote on it, the People’s Initiative on Banning Atomic Weapons of 1962. Many people were involved over the years, The Swiss nuclear weapons programme began in 1945 and run until 1988. The atomic bomb plans only ended when Switzerland signed the [United Nations] nuclear ban agreement in 1996. 

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swissinfo.ch: Do you know why Switzerland wanted the bomb?

G.R.: Yes, the idea was that all countries in Europe would have the atomic bomb, so Switzerland needed it, too. They even used neutrality as an argument. It was the middle of the Cold War.

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