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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1940s  1946

  1946  

The Vanderbilt Nutrition Studies begin. Pregnant women, without their knowledge or consent, are given radioactive iron in a "cocktail" they were told would increase natal nutrition. Four children died from malignant cancer, and several women experienced anemia, rashes, bruises, a loss of teeth and hair, and cancer.

TheUnited Nations General Assembly holds its opening session in Central Hall, Westminster in the UK.

The UN General Assembly adopts its first resolution, which establishes an Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and calls for the "elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction."

Joseph Stalin delivers a speech at the Bolshoi Theater, which marks a deterioration in Soviet-American relations.

The faculty of Columbia University, including physicist Isidor Rabi, urges President Truman to stop production of atomic bombs.

George F. Kennan, Chargé d’affaires in Moscow, sends the historic "long telegram" to the U.S. State Department, which analyzes Soviet foreign policy in alarming terms.

Winston Churchill delivers the historic Iron Curtain Speech in Fulton, Missouri.

Acheson-Lilienthal Report on the International Control of Atomic Energy is released stating, "Only if the dangerous aspects of atomic energy are taken out of national hands...is there any reasonable prospect of devising safeguards against the use of atomic energy for atomic bombs."

Soviet scientist Yuli Khariton chooses a remote and scenic location near the village of Arzamas (now Sarov, about 400 miles east of Moscow) as the secret location for the new Soviet weapons lab. Khariton would serve as the scientific director of Arzamas-16 from 1946 until 1992.

During a top-secret, three-day conference at Los Alamos, New Mexico, scientists examine feasibility of developing the hydrogen bomb.

At the first meeting of the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, U.S. delegate Bernard Baruch presents a modified Acheson-Lilienthal Proposal to internationalize control of atomic energy. He announces, "We are here to make a choice between the quick and the dead. That is our business. Behind the black portent of the new atomic age lies a hope, which seized upon in faith, can work our salvation. If we fail, then we have damned every man to be the slave of Fear. Let us not deceive ourselves. We must elect World Peace or World Destruction."

Andrei Gromyko, Soviet delegate to the UN Atomic Energy Commission, insists that any agreement on the international control of atomic weapons must be preceded by a worldwide moratorium on their production and use.

The first subsurface detonation of a nuclear weapon is achieved at Bikini Atoll by the United States.

The United States begins nuclear weapons testing at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific, by initiating Operation Crossroads.

The United States Congress establishes its own Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to control U.S. nuclear energy development.

Hiroshima by John Hersey is published in the New Yorker magazine. It takes up the entire issue, revealing the horrors of atomic war to the American public.

A team of Soviet scientists, headed by Igor Kurchatov, begins assembly of the first full-scale nuclear reactor.

The Soviet Union achieves its first nuclear chain reaction in Moscow, using an experimental graphite-moderated, natural uranium pile.

The UN Atomic Energy Commission approves the Baruch plan, calling for the creation of an international atomic development authority. In doing so, it rejects the Soviet plan, which called for nuclear disarmament before any international agency is created.

Soviet scientists review "classical super," Edward Teller’s design for the hydrogen bomb.