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Atomic Discovery

From Leucippus in 500 BC postulating the theory of atoms and void, to Einstein's theory of relativity.

1930s

In the 1930s, key discoveries are made about the fissioning of atoms by Enrico Fermi, Otto Hahn, Fritz Strassmann and Lise Meitner. These discoveries lay the groundwork for the development of nuclear weapons in the next decade.

1940s

The United States' Manhattan Project builds and tests the first atomic bombs. The new weapons are used on Hiroshima, then Nagasaki leading to the end of World War II. The beginning of the Cold War follows with the USSR's detonation of an atomic bomb in 1949.

Year: 1940 | 1941 | 1942 | 1943 | 1944 | 1945 | 1946 | 1947 | 1948 | 1949

1950s

The Korean War opens this decade, which also sees the first space travel by human beings, the construction of bomb shelters, and the deployment of the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles by the United States in 1958.

Year: 1950 | 1951 | 1952 | 1953 | 1954 | 1955 | 1956 | 1957 | 1958 | 1959

1960s

France and China join the "Nuclear Club." The Cuban Missile Crisis brings the world to the brink of a nuclear war and back. In 1968, the unpopular war in Vietnam and social demonstrations rising across the world, present the backdrop for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, in which the nuclear powers promise to bring about complete nuclear disarmament.

Year: 1960 | 1961 | 1962 | 1963 | 1964 | 1965 | 1966 | 1967 | 1968 | 1969

1970s

The SALT I and Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaties open this decade on a positive note. The end of the Vietnam War is followed by the SALT II agreement. The tragic accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear energy plant occurs at the end of the decade.

Year: 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979

1980s

The Cold War is at its height with Ronald Reagan declaring the USSR "the Evil Empire." Reagan's Administration engineers a massive build-up of nuclear arms. In 1985, it is revealed that Israel may have up to 200 nuclear weapons stockpiled. By the end of the decade, the Cold War ends when Glasnost exploded into a mostly peaceful revolution across the former-Soviet block.

Year: 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1988 | 1989

1990s

The promise of nuclear disarmament after the Cold War got a boost when Ukraine, Kazahkstan, and Belarus chose to give up their nuclear arsenals inherited from the former Soviet Union. However, other nuclear weapons states do not follow suit. By the end of the decade, two other countries, India and then Pakistan, test nuclear weapons.<

Year: 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999

2000s

This decade begins with threats by the United States to proceed with a nationwide missile defense system, even if this means abrogating the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Year: 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009

2010s

The decade started with a resurgence of international discussion about nuclear weapons issues.

Year: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017