Sunday, July 10, 2005
The Atomic Age at a Glance
The Department of Energy, the Associated Press, Facts on File
JULY 16, 1945
U.S. detonates the first atomic bomb near Alamogordo. It explodes with a force equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT.
AUG. 6, 1945
The "Little Boy" A-bomb explodes over Hiroshima with a force equivalent to 15,000 tons of TNT. The "Fat Man" A-bomb is dropped on Nagasaki three days later. By the end of the year, bomb-related deaths in Japan total almost 200,000.
AUG. 29, 1949
The Soviet Union detonates its first atomic device, ending America's nuclear monopoly. Over the next 30 years, atomic weapons would be tested by Great Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan and possibly others.
The United States sets off its first underground nuclear test in the desert near Las Vegas, Nev.
The Soviet Union ships nuclear missiles to Cuba. The U.S. demands they be removed. For two weeks, the world is thrust to the brink of nuclear war, until Moscow relents.
The People's Republic of China explodes its first nuclear bomb.
JULY 1, 1968
Sixty-two nations, including the U.S. and USSR, sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
MARCH 28, 1979
The Three Mile Island Nuclear Power plant near Harrisburg, Pa., suffers a partial core meltdown. What is described as minimal radioactive material is released.
U.S. President Ronald Reagan announces the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Commonly known as Star Wars, SDI is envisioned as a satellite-based nuclear defense system, which would destroy incoming missiles and warheads in space.
JULY 29, 1985
The Soviet Union announces a nuclear testing moratorium and invites the U.S. to freeze its testing. The Reagan administration refuses.
A meltdown and fire occur at the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor in the Soviet Ukraine. Massive quantities of radioactive materials are released, affecting much of Europe.
DEC. 8, 1987
Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Reagan sign the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty the first arms accord signed by both Moscow and Washington that calls for the elimination of an entire class of weapons intermediate-range missiles.
North Korea withdraws from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Meanwhile, U.S. bans all its nuclear weapons testing.
SEPT. 10, 1996
The United Nations approves the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans nuclear test explosions but not laboratory testing. India rejects the treaty. Pakistan votes for the ban, but won't sign.