Go to Home Page
  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1990s  1996

  Previous 1996   Next

Physicists at the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN) in Geneva, Switzerland announce that they have created the first anti-matter atom.

The 10th Anniversary of President Mikhail Gorbachev’s call for a nuclear-weapons-free world.

A French Mirage 2000-N nuclear bomber crashes in southern France after flying into a flock of birds. French officials state that there were no nuclear missiles on board when the plane went down.

The 50th Anniversary of the first resolution of the United Nations General Assembly, which called for the establishment of an Atomic Energy Commission charged with making proposals to remove nuclear weapons from national armaments.

START II is ratified by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 87 to 4. The treaty has not yet been ratified by the Russian Duma. [see June 16, 1992]

France explodes a 120 kiloton nuclear device at the Fangataufa atoll in the South Pacific.

Under massive international protest, especially from Europe and the Pacific countries, France ends its series of nuclear tests, two short of the eight explosions originally planned. The official press communiqué claims that the last test series has "completely and thoroughly reached its goal to guarantee the security and reliability of the deterrent power of France." President Jacques Chirac states, "I know that the decision that I made last June may have provoked, in France and abroad, anxiety and emotion. I know that nuclear weaponry may cause fear. But in an always dangerous world, it acts for us as a weapon in the service of peace."

In an address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress, French President Jacques Chirac announces that France has finished its set of nuclear weapons tests “once and for all,” and that France will push for the completion of the Comprehensive test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

President Jacques Chirac announces that in an effort to economize, France will stop producing plutonium and weapons-grade uranium for nuclear weapons, scrap its 18 land-based nuclear missiles, and dismantle the Hades short-range mobile missile.

In Suva, Fiji, the United States, France, and United Kingdom sign three protocols to the Treaty of Rarotonga, which established a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the South Pacific on August 6, 1985. The protocols provide that each signer has to extend treaty obligations to administered territories (protocol 1), prohibit the use or threat with nuclear weapons against treaty partners (protocol 2), and prohibit nuclear testing within the zone (protocol 3). Protocols 1 and 2 were signed earlier by the Soviet Union (December 15, 1986) and China (February 10, 1987). [see October 20, 1995]

Representatives of 43 African nations sign the Treaty of Pelindaba in Cairo, Egypt, establishing an African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and pledging not to build, test, or stockpile nuclear weapons. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak states that the treaty marks the "threshold of a new historic era." At the same time, the signatories issued the Cairo Declaration, which calls for a nuclear-free world.

At the Nuclear Safety Summit in Moscow, the Group of Seven (G-7) governments (United States, Canada, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan) and Russia release a statement affirming their commitment to conclude and sign a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by September 1996.

The 10th Anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. [see April 26, 1986]

The United States imposes symbolic sanctions on North Korea and Iran against their missile and related technology trade. 

Ukraine becomes a nuclear-weapons-free state after transferring the last inherited Soviet nuclear warhead to Russia for destruction. President Leonid D. Kuchma states, "The Ukrainian people, having suffered from the Chernobyl nuclear accident, are well acquainted with the potential disaster that nuclear weapons can bring. Ukraine calls on other nations to follow our path and to do everything to wipe nuclear weapons from the face of the earth as soon as possible."

After two years of negotiations, France and the United States secretly enter a pact to share nuclear weapons data from computer simulated nuclear explosions.

The defense ministers of the U.S., Russia, and Ukraine gather at the Pervomaisk missile base in Ukraine to celebrate Ukraine’s transfer of all of its nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantlement. The defense ministers scatter sunflower seeds and plant sunflowers where missiles were once buried. U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry states, "Sunflowers instead of missiles in the soil would ensure peace for future generations."

Sha Zukang, China’s chief delegate to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations, announces that China has abandoned its long-standing insistence on the right to conduct "peaceful nuclear explosions" and expresses the hope that an international treaty banning all nuclear testing will be concluded by the end of the year.

China conducts its 44th nuclear weapons test at its Lop Nor test site. The explosion registers 5.7 on the Richter scale. After the test, China announces it will conduct one more test later in the year.

The Conference on Disarmament adds 24 new members, bringing it to a total of 61. Among them are Finland, Austria, Switzerland, Iraq, Israel, South Africa, and Vietnam.

The Conference on Disarmament concludes its second session of 1996 in Geneva without achieving an agreement on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

President Alexander G. Lukashenko of Belarus suggests the creation of a nuclear weapons free zone that encompasses "the former socialist countries in Eastern Europe as well as Belarus, Ukraine, and the Baltic states."

The International Court of Justice hands down an Advisory Opinion in which it found that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law. The Court agreed unanimously that "There exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control."

China conducts its 45th nuclear weapons test at its Lop Nor test site. Disarmament negotiator Sha Zukang announces that this will be China's final test.

The Secretary of Defense's annual report outlines the U.S. nuclear policy for the post Cold War: "U.S. nuclear forces remain an important deterrent. In order to deter any hostile nuclear states, and to convince potential aggressors that seeking nuclear advantage would be futile, the U.S. will retain strategic nuclear forces."

The Group of 21, non-aligned members of the Conference on Disarmament, introduce a "Programme of Action for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons " at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. The proposal is tabled, but not acted upon.

The Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, initiated and supported by the Australian government, finds that nuclear weapons diminish the security of all states, including the nuclear weapons states. The Commission calls upon the five declared nuclear weapons states to commit themselves "unequivocally to the elimination of nuclear weapons and agree to start work immediately on the practical steps and negotiations required for its achievement." Statement | Executive Summary

India blocks a consensual agreement on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by the Conference on Disarmament, insisting that all nuclear weapons states first agree to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

In a letter to the President of the UNGA, Australia announces it will introduce the treaty text for a nuclear test-ban pact as a resolution during a special meeting of the UNGA in early September.

The United Nations General Assembly adopts a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by a vote of 158 to 3 (Bhutan, India, Libya) with 5 abstentions (Cuba, Lebanon, Mauritius, Syria and Tanzania).

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty opens for signatures at the United Nations. China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia, and the United States (the five declared nuclear weapons states) all sign the treaty. India says it will not sign the treaty until the declared nuclear weapons states commit themselves to the elimination of their nuclear weapons.

The United States, Russia, and Norway sign the Arctic Military and Environmental Cooperation Declaration for cleaning up nuclear waste dumped in the Arctic by the former Soviet military and for preventing future pollution from military activities.

The Convention on Nuclear Safety enters into force.

Hungary becomes the 65th nation to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. According to its terms, the Treaty will enter into force on April 29, 1997. This international treaty provides a model for a treaty banning nuclear weapons.

The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is established in Vienna to facilitate the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Belarus removes its last nuclear missile and turns it over to Russia for destruction. Belarus joins Ukraine and Kazakhstan as former Soviet Republics that have given up all their nuclear arms.

Retired U.S. four star Generals Lee Butler, who once commanded all U.S. strategic nuclear forces, and Andrew Goodpaster, former commander of NATO, issue a joint statement at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons. General Butler states, "We are not condemned to repeat the lessons of forty years at the nuclear brink. We can do better than condone a world in which nuclear weapons are accepted as commonplace."

Fifty-eight retired generals and admirals from seventeen countries issue a statement advocating the elimination of nuclear arms in conjunction with the previous day’s statement by Generals Lee Butler and Andrew Goodpaster.

Northeast Utilities shuts down the Connecticut Yankee nuclear power plant, the second-oldest reactor in the United States. The plant operated for 29 years.

The UN General Assembly adopts Resolution 51/45M calling for negotiations in 1997, leading to a Nuclear Weapons Convention, which would prohibit nuclear weapons.

Printer Friendly