What is the history of Nuclear Tests? - Answers

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What is the history of Nuclear Tests?

Infographic depicting the history of Nuclear tests.To bring awareness and educate people about “the effects of nuclear test explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world,” the  United Nations General Assembly in its 64th  session, declared  August 29th as the  ‘International Day Against Nuclear Testing, ‘on  December 2nd 2009.

The sole purpose to observe the day is to galvanize the United Nations, member states, the non-governmental organizations, inter-governmental organizations, the academic institutions, the youth and the media to advocate the necessity to ban nuclear tests and to achieve a more secure world.

In order to further the objective of a ban on nuclear tests, the United Nations General Assembly also declared September 26th  as the  ‘International Day for The Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons,’ by mobilizing international efforts.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty:

Under the project called  ‘Manhattan Project,the United States carried out the first atomic blasts, in the site designated as Trinity Site.’  The test was carried out to understand the implications of the explosion, before being used in combat against Japan. The culmination of the scientific research did give an understanding of the repercussions, but not an appreciable understanding of the nuclear fallout. This called for the need of a Conference on Disarmament, famously called the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty. It aims at banning nuclear tests explosions in any environment. The precedent treaty on the Non-Proliferation (NPT) of nuclear weapons forms the basis of the CTBT, which aims at eliminating nuclear weapons, constraining the development and qualitative improvement in the new nuclear weapons. The period between the start of the first test in 1945 and the CTBT treaty, over 2,000 tests were carried out by various countries.

‘Hot War’ to ‘Cold War’:

The United States’ dropping of  ‘Little Boy  on Hiroshima and  Fat Man’  on Nagasaki, in 1945, hastened the official end of World War II. The erstwhile Soviet Union followed the USA’s footprints with its first atomic test in 1949. This nuclear arms race was the transition from a ‘Hot War’ Era to a ‘Cold War’ Era. The 1950’s saw a dedication of sites for extensive nuclear testing. The USA had allotted the  ‘Nevada Test Site’ and the  ‘Marshall Islands’  as the base for over 900 nuclear tests, on the other hand the erstwhile USSR, primarily used the Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan as a testing site. Exacerbated tensions and pervasive fears led to the development of the more sophisticated hydrogen and fission bombs. The suspicious competition and the mass destruction caused by these explosions kept the Cold War from turning into a full-blown Hot War.

The third country to conduct nuclear tests was the United Kingdom, in 1952. The initial tests were carried out at the  ‘Montebello Islands’  in Western Australia, which later was coordinated with the United States. The UK-US Mutual Defense Agreement resulted in the test conducting at the  ‘Nevada test site.’

The Nuclear Tests are categorized on the basis of the purpose of the test. The  Weapons-Related Tests’ are carried out to glean information of the functioning of the weapons, whereas those conducted to gain information of the effects of the weapons on the structures and organisms are called  ‘Weapons-Effects Tests’.  Additionally, another category is called nuclear tests as part of  ‘Anti-Ballistic Missile Testing.’

Advantages of Nuclear Testing:

Although largely positioned against the use of nuclear energy, there are certain advantages to nuclear energy. The pressure on the non-renewable resources like fossil fuels, will be transited by the production of energy through nuclear energy. This also results in the reduction of the emission of greenhouse gases, leading to environmental improvements.

Offering an alternate to the renewable energy like solar and wind, which is conditioned by weather, the nuclear energy can be a reliable source to meet the energy demands of a country.

The prevalence of nuclear weapons also acts as a deterrent for the war to escalate into a hot war and gives negotiation and diplomatic talks an option. Lastly, the technologies that have helped build the nuclear weapons also foster the development of other technologies, benefiting the society.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations also recognized the new agenda of ‘Securing Our Common Future’ on May 2018. It states that the norms against testing serves the purpose of both disarmament and non-proliferation. The CTBT treaty is yet to enter into force. Of the 44 States included in Annex 2 required for entry into force of the CTBT, all have signed with the exceptions of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), India, and Pakistan. Five of the 44 Annex 2 States have signed but not ratified the CTBT; they are China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the United States.

Below lying table depicts the number of tests carried out by countries:


Number Of Tests















North Korea


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