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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1990s  1993

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President George Bush and President Boris Yeltsin sign the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II), which reduces their nations’ arsenals of long-range nuclear weapons to 3000-3500 and eliminates all MIRVed land-based missiles over the next 10 years.

The Akatsuki Maru, carrying 1.7 tons of plutonium, docks near Tokyo, Japan.

The United States and twenty-one other nations announce revised guidelines to extend the scope of the Missile Technology Control Regime to missiles capable of carrying chemical and biological weapons, as well as nuclear weapons.

The U.S. launches 45 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Iraq’s Zaafaraniyeh industrial complex, which is believed to be involved in producing uranium enrichment equipment.

Due to radiation poisoning of the environment and the populace, and pressure from the Nevada-Semipalatinsk Movement, the Republic of Kazakhstan closes the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. [see February 28, 1989]

The Belarus Supreme Council ratifies the START Treaty by a 218 to 1 margin.

The International Atomic Energy Agency demands access to several sites in North Korea, citing suspicions of nuclear materials. North Korea refuses.

North Korea declares that it will withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

A Russian Delta III class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine collides with the USS Grayling, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, in the Barents Sea.

South African President F. W. De Klerk declares in a special joint session of the South African parliament that "at one stage South Africa did develop a limited nuclear deterrent capability," but "early in 1990 final effect was given to decisions that all the nuclear devices should be dismantled and destroyed."

The International Atomic Energy Agency declares that it cannot guarantee North Korea's stockpile is being used solely for peaceful purposes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) asks the International Court of Justice for an Advisory Opinion on the legality of the use of nuclear weapons. The WHO asks, "In view of the health and environment effects, would the use of nuclear weapons by a state in war or other armed conflict be a breach of its obligation under international law including the WHO Constitution?"

General Colin Powell, chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, says in a speech at Harvard: "Under agreements that we have negotiated over the past few years, and will come into effect by the end of the decade, we are bringing the number of our nuclear warheads down from over 20,000 when I became chairman four years ago, to just over 5,000. And today, I can declare my hope, declare it from the bottom of my heart, that we will eventually see the time when that number of nuclear weapons is down to zero and the world is a much better place."

One day before its withdrawal was to become effective, North Korea announces it is suspending its decision to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The South African Parliament passes the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction Act, which commits South Africa to abstain from developing nuclear weapons.

President Bill Clinton announces that he will extend the United States moratorium on nuclear testing.

The French nuclear attack submarine, Rubis, collides with a tanker and has to undergo extensive repairs.

Russian nuclear specialists find that increased radiation levels, at the Ukrainian ammunition depot at Pervomaisk, are due to poor safety and maintenance procedures.

Two nuclear warheads emitting dangerous levels of radioactivity are kept for two weeks inside a railroad car on the Ukraine-Russian border, as admitted by Colonel Yevgeny Maslin, Chief of the Russian General Staff’s nuclear ammunition department.

China conducts a nuclear test at its Lop Nor test site in Xinjiang Autonomous Region. It is the first test by a nuclear weapons state in more than a year.

The Central Intelligence Agency announces that it estimates North Korea's nuclear stockpile at 12kg of plutonium, which is enough for one nuclear weapon.

Ukraine officially accedes to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state. With their adoption of the NPT, the last remaining obstacle to implementing START I disappears and the Treaty enters into force. [see July 31, 1991]

The U.S. Department of Energy reveals that the United States conducted 204 secret underground nuclear tests over a 45-year period. These bring the total number of U.S. nuclear tests to 1051. The Energy Department also reveals that the U.S. deliberately exposed some Americans to dangerous levels of radiation in medical experiments without their consent.

The United States Air Force blows up an underground missile silo at Whitman Air Force Base in Missouri. It is the first of 500 silos to be destroyed under the terms of the Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (START I).

Ukraine announces that it will dismantle all of its 46 long-range SS-24 nuclear-armed missiles by the end of 1994, but that it will not ship them to Russia as required by START I and its protocols.

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