The Dawn of the Nuclear Age

On July 16, 1945, the United States conducted the world’s first nuclear test in the Alamogordo Desert, New Mexico. Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, who was responsible for the scientific research, later said that the first A-bomb explosion reminded

him of a phrase from a Hindu sutra, “Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.” Three weeks after this test, atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9). After the war, the East-West conflict stimulated a nuclear arms race. The Soviet Union, UK, France, and China followed the US in developing and testing their own nuclear weapons. In May 1998, India conducted its first nuclear tests in 24 years,

and Pakistan conducted its first test ever. In October 2006 and May 2009, North Korea conducted nuclear tests. To date, more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted worldwide.


Timeline – Nuclear Development


US conducts world’s first atomic bomb testUS drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki 1945
UK conducts first atomic bomb testUS conducts first hydrogen bomb test 1949
USSR conducts first hydrogen bomb test       1952
Lucky Dragon No. 5 exposed to radioactive falloutfrom hydrogen bombtest in Bikini Atoll 1953
UK conducts first hydrogen bomb test 1954
France conducts first atomic bomb test 1957
China conducts first atomic bomb test 1959
China conducts first hydrogen bomb test 1960
France conducts first hydrogen bomb test 1963
India conducts first atomic bomb test 1964
China and France rush to conduct nuclear tests before Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) adoptedNPT extended indefinitely 1967
US conducts first subcritical nuclear test 1968
India conducts first nuclear test in 24years Pakistan conducts first nuclear test 1974
US Senate refuses to ratify CTBT 1995
North Korea conducts first nuclear test 2006
Iran refuses to suspend uranium enrichment despite UN resolution 2008
US conducts Z-machine nuclear test 2009
US conducts 26th subcritical nuclear testUS conducts second Z-machine nuclear test 2010




Antarctic Treaty adopted (effectuated 1961) 1959
US, UK and USSR sign Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty(effectuated same year) 1963
Treaty for Prohibition of Nuclear Weaponsin Latin America and the Caribbean(Treaty of Tlatelolco) signed (effectuated 1968) 1967
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signed (effectuated 1970) 1968
South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga)signed (effectuated 1986) 1985
US and USSR sign first StrategicArms Reduction Treaty (START I) (effectuated 1994)USSR halts nuclear testing 1991
US and UK halt nuclear testing 1992
US and Russia sign second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty(START II) (not in effect)NPT extended indefinitely 1995Treaty on Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone

(Bangkok Treaty) signed(effectuated 1997)

France halts nuclear testingAfrican Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (Pelindaba Treaty) signed(effectuated 2009)China halts nuclear testing

CTBT adopted by UN General Assembly (not in effect)

NPT Review Conference adopts finaldocument including “an unequivocalundertaking by the nuclear arsenals” 2000
US and Russia sign Strategic OffensiveReductions Treaty (Moscow Treaty) (effectuated 2003) 2002
International Convention for the Suppression ofActs of Nuclear Terrorism adopted (effectuated 2007)NPT Review Conference failed to produce final document 2005
Treaty on Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zonein Central Asia signed (effectuated 2009) 2006
US President Obama delivers speechmaking clear his goal of working towards realization of“world without nuclear weapons” as only nuclear power to have used nuclearweapons. UN Secretary Council summit meeting adopts unanimous resolution calling

fornuclear-weapon-free world

UN General Assembly passes Japan’s resolution on nuclear disarmament

171 to 2(India and North Korea) with 8 abstentions; US co-sponsors resolution for first


US holds Nuclear Security SummitUS President Obama and Russian President Medvedev sign new StrategicArmsReduction Treaty (New START)

NPT Review Conference adopts final document reaffirming commitments

made in 2000,

calls for negotiations in 2012 on nuclear-weapon-free zone in Middle East,

and specifically

mentions nuclear weapons convention

New START enters force 2011

Beyond Nuclear Deterrence


Following World War II until about 1985, the United States and the Soviet Union led an ever-escalating nuclear arms race based on “nuclear deterrence.” In amassing sufficient nuclear capacity to destroy each other, these countries created the potential for an all-out nuclear war that could annihilate the entire human race. As seen below, that threat remains unchanged. The idea of nuclear deterrence is quite simple. “If I threaten my enemy with assured destruction, I can keep him from attacking me.” But the true meaning is, “I am willing to destroy cities, civilization and possibly all life on Earth to defend my wealth, territory or ideology.” Today, with nine nuclear-armed states and nuclear weapons threatening to spin out of control, the concept of “nuclear deterrence”

is dangerously obsolete. Despite strong criticism nationally and internationally, India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in May 1998. North Korea conducted nuclear tests in October 2006 and May 2009, and there is widespread, grave concern that other nations and terrorist organizations are also seeking nuclear weapons. As seen at the NPT Review Conference of 2010, the international community is pouring considerable energy into nuclear disarmament. The final document clearly reaffirmed the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world and, for the first time, mentioned a nuclear weapons convention. The focus of attention now is on when substantive disarmament negotiations will begin. Nuclear weapons defend no one. They threaten us all. The only way to deter nuclear disaster is to find and destroy every bomb, every warhead and all weapons-grade fissile material as soon as possible. We need not the false assurance of nuclear deterrence but the genuine safety of a nuclear-weapon-free world.


The Hidden Cost of Nuclear Testing and Development


Radiation injuries inflicted by the processes of development, manufacture, testing and deployment of nuclear and radiological weapons have resulted in illness and death for many innocent victims around the world, with aftereffects ongoing. Decontaminating nuclear test sites and factories and dealing with the fissile material and radioactive waste generated by dismantling nuclear weapons will take far more time and money than was spent building them. Opinions vary widely as to its harmful effects, but we know without doubt that radiation does damage cells and chromosomes and can lead to a wide range of physical disorders. Thus, according to the precautionary principle, it is not the public’s duty to prove that radiation (from testing, manufacture, radiological weapons, power station leaks) is harmful. It is the industry’s duty to prove conclusively that it is safe. They have never done so.