Atomic Heritage Foundation

In partnership with the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

In Memoriam: Nerses "Krik" Krikorian

In Memoriam: Nerses "Krik" Krikorian

We are sad to report the passing of our friend, Nerses “Krik” Krikorian. Krikorian passed away on April 18, 2018 at the age of 97.

Krikorian was born on a Turkish roadside on January 23, 1921. At the time, his parents were fleeing the Armenian genocide. His family moved from country to country for the next four years with nothing but the clothes on their backs. At the age of four, Krikorian moved with his family to Niagara Falls, New York.

In 1943, after graduating with honors and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Niagara University, Krikorian began working at Union Carbide in a laboratory that produced high-purity uranium. After the war, Krikorian was approached to join the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos.

In his AHF interview, Krikorian remembered his first day there: "We made it. We made it to Santa Fe and registered at 109 [East Palace]. I remember I was supposed to be here for one year and then go back to Union Carbide, and I’m still here.”

Krikorian ended up working at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) until 1991. During his time at Los Alamos, Krikorian worked on a number of projects. Throughout his career, Krikorian amassed six patents and published numerous technical assessments and analyses. The topics ranged from laser isotope separation and high-temperature reactor materials to directed-energy nuclear weapons.

In the 1970s, Krikorian was approached by LANL Director Harold Agnew to join a new intelligence unit. While working with the unit, he met with representatives of the Soviet Union's nuclear research program and participated in laboratory to laboratory cooperation with Russian scientists at the end of the Cold War.

Krikorian was named a LANL Fellow and received the Los Alamos Medal (the top LANL award), the CIA's Intelligence Community Medallion, and two honorary doctorates.

In an interview in 2017, Krikorian reflected: “Things have worked out far beyond what I ever imagined. I think of my parents and wonder, ‘How did they ever do it?' My parents instilled in me the importance of doing the right thing and giving back to your fellow man. I hope I’ve done that.”

For more information on Krikorian, please see his AHF profile and his “Voices of the Manhattan Project” interview