Two nuclear scientists who reviewed the controversial article on the hydrogen bomb at the request of the Progressive magazine's editors filed affidavits late last week that supported the government's contention that some portions should not be published.
In issuing a preliminary injunction Monday that barred publication or dissemination of information from the article, U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Warren made note of these affidavits.
In one, Ralph S. Hager, a physicist at the government's Lawrence Livermore Laboratory in California, recommended against publication of the article "because it unnecessarily draws attention to an issue which has not been demonstrated to be in the interest of national security."
Kosta Tsipis, a professor at the Masachusetts Institute of Technology with research experience in high-energy particle physics and weapons design technology, said he believed that material in the article could ease the way for another country to manufacture a hydrogen device and shorten the time it would take to develop such a bomb.
The government, in seeking the injunction, has argued that publication could make available to other countries, sooner than otherwise, information that could contribute to proliferation of nuclear weaponry.
Progressive editor Erwin Knoll said yesterday that the magazine had approached reputable scientists to review the article without first finding out how they would respond.
"They formed their own judgment," he said in a telephone interview.
Several other scientists who filed affidavits at the Progressive's request supported the magazine's contention that material in the article by freelancer Howard Morland considered secret by the government could be obtained by reading publicly available sources.
One of those scientists, Hugh Edgar DeWitt of Livermore Laboratory, said the article probably would aid a weapons design group in another country, "but only a few days."
DeWitt identified one of the concepts considered secret by the government as "a total of 11 lines . . . (that) describe very qualitatively the Teller-Ulam idea which led to first successful hydrogen bomb explosions by the United States in the early '50s."
Edward Teller and S. I. Ulam are considered the fathers of the U.S. H-bomb.
In another aspect of the case, Knoll yesterday said fear of criminal prosecution initially led the magazine editors to send material to the Department of Energy for review.
As Knoll described it, one draft copy of the article was read in mid February by MIT Professor George Rathjens. Rathjens, who also serves as a consultant to the Department of State, objected to its publication in a conversation with Knoll.Then, without Knoll's approval, Rathjens sent the draft to a DOE security officer.
Subsequently, knoll said, he gave a copy of the article and the accompanying sketches to the magazine's lawyers. They studied its contents and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954. That act contains criminal penalties for communicating restricted or secret data on nuclear weapons.
On the advice of the lawyers, Knoll and his colleagues decided on Feb. 21 to send DOE the six sketches by Morland on how an H-bomb works "to get a feel whether we really had a bad problem."
The sketches were sent, according to Knoll, because "they were the most technically specific thing in the article."
Because Knoll did not want to ask government to clear the material, it was decided to say the sketches were being sent to verify their accuracy.
When no response was received, the magazine, on Feb. 26, sent both the article and another set of the sketches.
The lawyers said they believed that by sending the material to DOE they would be deflecting any future accusation that they had some criminal intent in publishing the material.
"The lawyers wanted us to get some response," Knoll said.