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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1990s  1995

  1995  

Black Brant XII, a Norwegian-U.S. joint research rocket launched from Norway’s northwest coast, is initially mistaken by the Russians as a nuclear attack. Russian strategic command notifies President Yeltsin, and for a few tense moments Russians consider launching a counter-attack against the U.S.

The Smithsonian Institution cancels a planned exhibition on the Enola Gay, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after criticism by veteran’s groups and members of Congress. Dr. Thomas Crouch, chairman of the National Air and Space Museum Aeronautics Department, predicted the furor three years earlier when he asked, "Do you want to do an exhibition intended to make veterans feel good, or do you want an exhibition that will lead our visitors to think about the consequences of the atomic bombing of Japan? Frankly, I don’t think we can do both." View the Last Act Exhibit

The Mescalero Apache tribe of south-central New Mexico votes against allowing their reservation to be used as a nuclear waste storage site for about 20,000 metric tons of highly radioactive spent reactor fuel rods. Tribal members vote 490 to 362 against the plan, which would have resulted in substantial revenues to the tribe from thirty-three utility companies throughout the United States.

Pope John Paul II calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons: "With the persistence of tensions and conflicts in various parts of the world, the international community must never forget what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as a warning and an incentive to develop truly effective and peaceful means of settling tensions and disputes. Fifty years after the Second World War, the leaders of nations cannot become complacent but rather should renew their commitment to disarmament and to the banishment of all nuclear weapons."

The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organizationis formed. KEDO’s goal is to promote peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula through nonproliferation.

All five nuclear weapons states issue new texts of their negative security assurances. The texts of the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, and France are nearly identical, and all have major exceptions. Only China has a clear and absolute No First Use policy.

The United States, Japan, and South Korea form an alliance to prevent nuclear aggression from North Korea

Non-governmental organizations working for nuclear weapons abolition agree upon the Abolition 2000 Statement as the basis for a global citizens' effort to abolish nuclear weapons.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference concludes with agreement of the parties to extend the Treaty indefinitely along with a set of Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Among these are: (a) The completion by the Conference on Disarmament of the negotiations on a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty no later than 1996. Pending the entry into force of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the nuclear weapon states should exercise utmost restraint; (b) The immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations on a non-discriminatory and universally applicable convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices in accordance with the statement of the Special Coordinator of the Conference on Disarmament and the mandate contained therein; (c) The determined pursuit by the nuclear-weapon States of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons, and by all States of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

China conducts an underground nuclear test. 

French President Jacques Chirac declares that France will end a three-year moratorium and resume nuclear testing in the South Pacific, triggering worldwide protest.

The first shipment of low-grade uranium is received in the United States from Russia. This shipment is part of a twenty-year contract to sell the U.S. 500 metric tons of Russian high-grade uranium.

In an issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Alexei Arbatov, deputy chair of the Duma Defense Committee, states: "[The U.S. has a] lack of willingness to accommodate legitimate Russian interests, [and practices] double standards." He adds that U.S. insensitivity towards Russian concerns about START II has led to increased anti-Western sentiment, and pushed President Boris Yeltsin towards a more nationalist and conservative posture.

About 150 French commandos storm and tear gas the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior II after the ship enters the 12-mile exclusion zone around the French nuclear test site at Moruroa Atoll, off the Cook Islands in French Polynesia. French forces continue to board the ship for several months.

The 50th Anniversary of first atomic explosion at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The 50th Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Mayor of Hiroshima Takashi Hiraoka states, "Nuclear weapons are clearly inhumane weapons in obvious violation of international law. So long as these weapons exist, it is inevitable that the horror of Hiroshima and Nagasaki will be repeated-somewhere, sometime-in an unforgivable affront to humanity itself."

The 50th Anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. Mayor of Nagasaki Iccho Itoh states, "The postwar generation, of which I am a member, has no experience of war or the atomic bombings. We must listen to the words of the atomic bomb survivors, study about the historical events leading to World War II, the horror of war and the reality of the atomic bombings, and recognize the fact that the human race cannot coexist with nuclear weapons....I ask you to join me in rising above the barriers of age and nationality and in forging a peaceful future for all humankind."

France announces its support for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty prohibiting "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion."

President Bill Clinton announces that the United States supports a true zero-yield Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Greenpeace holds its first demonstration in mainland China. Activists hold up a banner reading "Stop All Nuclear Testing" in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Police arrest the activists.

China conducts its 43rd nuclear weapons test at its Lop Nor test site. The explosion has a yield of 60 kilotons. The resulting earth tremor measures 5.6 on the Richter Scale.

France breaks its three-year moratorium on nuclear testing with a 20-kiloton explosion at the Moruroa Atoll in the South Pacific. France conducts more tests through the end of the year.

International Court of Justice in The Hague rejects New Zealand's bid to stop further French nuclear testing in the South Pacific.

Addressing the 50th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Andre Kozyrev announces his government’s support for a "universal and permanent moratorium on nuclear testing."

France detonates a 110 kiloton nuclear warhead, which it plans to deploy on a new generation of nuclear submarines, at the Fangataufa atoll in the South Pacific.

The governments of France, the United Kingdom, and the United States issue the following statement: "The Governments of the French Republic, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America believe that internationally recognized Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, on the basis of arrangements freely arrived at among the States of the region concerned, can contribute to international peace and security. The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference recognized this fact and encouraged the creation of such zones as a matter of priority. The conference also recognized that the cooperation of all the nuclear-weapon States and their respect and support for the relevant protocols is necessary for the maximum effectiveness of such nuclear weapon free zones and the relevant protocols. In this regard, we are jointly announcing today our intention to sign the relevant protocols to the Treaty of Raratonga in the first half of 1996."

France explodes a 60 kiloton nuclear device at Moruroa atoll. The U.S. Department of Energy announces plans to conduct six sub-critical nuclear tests. These tests violate the spirit and possibly the letter of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Hearings begin at the International Court of Justice on the Illegality of the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons.

France conducts a 40 kiloton nuclear weapons test at Moruroa atoll.

Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating announces the formation of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, a 17-member group of government leaders, scientists, disarmament experts, and military strategists from around the world. The Commission is charged with proposing "practical steps towards a nuclear-weapons-free world."

A defective weld on a coolant tube results in a large-scale sodium leak in the fast-breeder nuclear reactor, Monju, in Japan, operated by the state-run Power Reactor and the Nuclear Fuel Development Corp, DONEN. The leak causes the sodium to ignite, filling the room with deadly fumes and temperatures as high as 1500 degrees Celsius, melting steel structures in the room including the thermometer tube, ventilation duct inlet, and the floor directly beneath the breached tube. The Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corporation describes the accident as "a minor leakage in the secondary sodium loop [that] caused some fumes." The government agency is found to have covered up videotape proof of extensive damage to the prototype reactor.

Belarus agrees to transfer its last 19 Soviet strategic nuclear missiles to Russia. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Belarus declared itself nuclear free and had since transferred 70 nuclear missiles to Russian control.

Joseph Rotblat and the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs receive the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committee recognizes them "for their efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international politics and in the longer run to eliminate such arms." In his acceptance lecture, Rotblat states, "I appeal to the nuclear powers to abandon the out-of-date thinking of the Cold War period and take a fresh look. Above all, I appeal to them to bear in mind the long-term threat that nuclear weapons pose to humankind and to begin action towards their elimination. Remember your duty to humanity."

The United Nations General Assembly calls for the immediate cessation of nuclear weapons tests.

The nations of Southeast Asia sign a treaty that designates an area stretching from Burma in the west, the Philippines in the east, Laos and Vietnam in the north, and Indonesia in the south, as a nuclear-weapons-free zone. Signed at the end of the 5th summit conference of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok, each state agrees not to "develop, manufacture or otherwise acquire, possess or have control over nuclear weapons; station or transport nuclear weapons by any means; or test or use nuclear weapons." The five nuclear weapons states have condemned the treaty, saying that it implies territorial rights they do not accept. North Korea signs a $4.5 billion accord in which the U.S. provides it with two nuclear reactors in exchange for an agreement to freeze its nuclear program.

The Wassenaar Arrangement originates out of the COCOM export controls regime to control the trade of dual-use goods and technologies. The Arrangement promotes transparency, the exchange of views and information, and greater responsibility in transfers of materials that have civilian as well as military applications.

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres states, "Give me peace, we will give up the nuclear capability. That’s the whole story." It is widely believed that Israel has somewhere between 100 to 200 nuclear weapons.

France conducts a 30 kiloton nuclear weapons test at the Moruroa atoll.