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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1970s  1979

  1979  

The Conference on Disarmament is formed.

Nine kilograms of weapons-grade uranium are found to be missing from a nuclear fuel plant in Erwin, Tennessee.

The Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant accident occurs near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. A combination of mechanical and human error results in a partial core meltdown.

Helen Caldicottís anti-nuclear speech in Boston is heard by thousands instead of the anticipated hundreds. She rejuvenates Physicians for Social Responsibility, the organization that drew attention to the radiation pollution of human breast milk and childrenís teeth by strontium-90 in the 1960ís, due to atmospheric nuclear explosions.

The United States cuts off military aid to Pakistan after the establishment of a uranium enrichment facility in Pakistan. 

The Admiral of the Fleet the Earl Mountbatten accepts the award of the Louise Weiss Foundation Prize to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). He states, "A new world war can hardly fail to involve the all-out use of nuclear weapons. Such a war would not drag on for years. It could all be over in a matter of days. And when it is all over what will the world be like? Our fine great buildings, our homes will exist no more. The thousands of years it took to develop our civilization will have been in vain. Our works of art will be lost. Radio, television, newspapers will disappear. There will be no means of transport. There will be no hospitals. No help can be expected for the few mutilated survivors in any town to be sent from a neighboring town-there will be no neighboring towns left, no neighbors, there will be no help, there will be no hope."

President Jimmy Carter and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev sign the Second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II)) in Vienna, Austria. The Treaty establishes a ceiling of 2,400 strategic offensive weapons and limits Multiple Independently-targeted Reentry Vehicles (MIRV) to 1,320 launchers.

Highly enriched Uranium is released from a secret nuclear-fuel plant near Erwin, Tennessee, and about a thousand people are contaminated with up to five times as much radiation as they would normally receive a year.

A nuclear explosion occurs over the South Indian Ocean off the Cape of Good Hope, possibly conducted by South Africa with the assistance of Israel.

President Jimmy Carter requests a considerable increase in defense spending and signs Presidential Directive 59, calling on the U.S. to develop and maintain the capability to wage a protracted nuclear war.

As part of its "Double-Track" strategy, NATO decides to deploy additional intermediate-range nuclear missiles (Cruise Missiles and Pershing II) in Europe and simultaneously negotiate for their removal.

President Jimmy Carter withdraws the SALT II Treaty from consideration by the Senate for ratification, as a result of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. [see June 18, 1979]