The visit last month of Andrei Sakharov to the United States represents not merely a personal victory for the Nobel laureate and the scientists who have worked persistently for his rehabilitation. It is also a reflection of the profound changes going on in the Soviet Union, especially through the Soviet Academy of Sciences— changes that are reshaping that nation’s scientific enterprise.

I was honored to be present at two occasions Sakharov attended while he was in Washington—once at the Library of Congress and then when he received the Albert Einstein Peace Prize for his efforts in support of nuclear disarmament. In his acceptance speech, Sakharov criticized own government for its support of an outsized military force. He criticized NATO nations for refusing to abandon their claim to a first use of nuclear weapons. And in his meeting with President Reagan, he was sharply critical of the United States’ Strategic Defense...

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