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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 2000s  2002


US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announces that the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization (BMDO) is now redesignated as the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). Elevating the BMDO to an agency status recognizes the US priority and mission emphasis to deploy missile defenses. The current director of the BMDO, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald T. Kadish assumes the title of director for the MDA. According to Rumsfeld, the MDA’s responsibilities will include: establishing a single program to develop an integrated missile defense system; assigning the best and brightest people to this work; and applying a capability-based requirements process for missile defense.

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrive in Tbilisi, Georgia to visit a site where three lumberjacks found two containers of highly radioactive Strontium-90 near the village of Dzhvare in December 2001. The radioactive containers are believed to have been used in signal beacons during the construction of a nearby hydroelectric plant some 30 years ago. The containers are emitting radiation at a rate of 15 roentgens per hour from a distance of five feet, several thousand times higher than normal background radiation. The IAEA will assemble a special task force to remove the containers. The lumberjacks who found the containers have been hospitalized.

The US Department of Defense delivers to Congress a classified version of the Congressionally mandated Nuclear Posture Review (NPR). It is the first NPR since 1994. Building on the Quadrennial Defense Review released in September 2001, the NPR provides a blueprint for the changing role of US strategic nuclear forces with as few treaty restrictions as possible.

Department of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham makes a recommendation that Yucca Mountain, Nevada be developed into the country’s repository for high-level atomic waste. The decision comes at a time when spent nuclear fuel and high level radioactive waste is scattered across 131 sites in 39 states. Abraham’s recommendation sends the Yucca Mountain decision to the White House.

Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf makes a landmark speech condemning terrorism, promising internal reform and calling for a peaceful resolution with India over the disputed Kashmir region--the issue at the center of the standoff between the two nations."

Inspectors from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announce that two radioactive fuel rods that have been missing for some 20 years from the Millstone Nuclear Complex located in Waterford, Connecticut were likely mistaken for other radioactive waste and disposed. The NRC states that fuel rods have never before gone missing in the history of US commercial nuclear power plants and it is considering whether to sanction or fine Dominion, Inc., which owns the Millstone One nuclear power plant, for lapses in record-keeping and mishandling of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel. The investigation regarding the missing fuel rods began in December 2000 after Northeast Utilities (NU), the owner of plant until last year, conducted an inventory of the plant’s spent nuclear fuel. Neither NU or Dominion, Inc. could determine conclusively where the rods were.

The Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, denounces the US six-month notice that it intends to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty as a destabilizing move that could provoke another round of arms races. In a resolution, the Duma describes the US move as "mistaken and destabilizing" and states that it could create "real conditions for a new round of the arms race." The Duma also calls on Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure that Russia can provide a report on the state of its nuclear forces in light of the US decision.

The number four reactor at the Kursk nuclear power plant in western Russia automatically shuts down in an unexplained malfunction. According to the state-run energy company Rosenergoatom, the problem is fixed.

Safety controls trigger the shutdown of reactor number three at the Novovoronezh power plant in southern Russia. According to the state-run energy company Rosenergoatom, no one is hurt, the incident is not serious and radiation levels were within normal ranges. However, the incident is being investigated.

India’s cabinet agrees to adopt the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) convention on the physical protection of nuclear materials, aimed at tightening security on the transport of nuclear material to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. According to a statement issued from the Indian cabinet, "This decision reinforces India’s commitment to international legal instruments against terrorism in general and nuclear terrorism in particular." The convention requires the security and safety of material during international transport, but it does not deal with transports within a country. Many are calling for the convention to be broadened to cover domestic shipments as well. Some 70 countries, including Japan, Russia and the US have already signed the convention.

A malfunction is reported in the electronic panel of reactor number one at the nuclear power plant just outside the city of St. Petersburg. According to the nuclear safety agency near St. Petersburg, no radiation increases were reported, but the problem is being investigated.

Assistant US Attorney Sasha Siernel announces that the case of the disappearance of two hard drives containing top-secret nuclear information from the Los Alamos National Laboratory has been closed. According to Siernel, no one will be charged and most of the investigative activity stopped several months ago. The hard drives were discovered missing from a vault in the lab’s top-secret X-Division after workers returned from an evacuation caused by a wild fire on lab property in May 2000. Several weeks later, the hard drives were found behind a copy machine in a location that had previously been searched. The Federal Bureau of Investigation questioned five main suspects and dozens of scientists before a grand jury. Former Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson stated in January 2001 that investigators found no evidence of espionage.

The Missile Defense Agency and the US Navy conduct what it calls a successful test in the continuing development of the Sea-Based Midcourse (SMD) Ballistic Missile Defense system from the Pacific Missile Range Facility (PMRF) at Barking Sands in Kauai. The USS Lake Erie, a guided missile cruiser stationed miles offshore, tracks a target missile launched from PMRF with an Aegis Spy-1 radar. Eight minutes after the target missile is launched, the USS Lake Erie fires a newly developed Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) booster with a prototype warhead designed to intercept and destroy a warhead outside the Earth's atmosphere. The test is the fourth in a planned series of nine developmental test flights for the Sea-Based Missile Defense System.

In a move viewed by Pakistan as a provocative gesture in the region, India conducts a test of a new version of its nuclear-capable medium-range Agni missile. Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf responds by making an offer to work with India for the de-nuclearization of South Asia. India rejects the proposal.

India conducts the second and third tests of its short-range surface-to-air Trishul missile. The Trishul missile, named after a trident carried by the Hindu god of destruction, can carry a 33-pound warhead up to a range of 30 miles.

U.S. President George W. Bush labels North Korea, Iran and Iraq as the "axis of evil."

US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton announces that a long-standing US commitment not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states is "an unrealistic view of the international situation." Bolton questions the value of the negative security assurances the US has offered since 1978. He states, "We are not ruling anything in and we are not ruling anything out. We are just not into theoretical assertions that other administrations have made."

Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh tells foreign policy leaders at the European Union that his country will maintain a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear weapons testing. Singh states, "We have publicly stated.that there is a voluntary moratorium that is in force. It shall remain in force and it is not time bound."

Government scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory conduct a subcritical nuclear weapons experiment at the Nevada Test Site, code-named "Vito." According to the National Nuclear Security Administration, the United Kingdom participates in the experiment under terms of the1958 Mutual Defense Agreement. Data from the test is fed into a supercomputer at Aldermaston, UK. Subcritical nuclear tests are not considered full nuclear tests because they do not achieve a self-sustained chain reaction. However, the tests do involve high explosives blown up with fissile material (usually plutonium).

US President George W. Bush endorses the US Department of Energy (DoE) recommendation to locate a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The site would store some 70,000 tons of nuclear waste. Responding to President Bush’s announcement, Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn files a lawsuit in the US District Court against the Bush administration. His suit charges that the DoE violated the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act and accuses the DoE of not allowing the state to review environmental studies 30 days before approving the site. By law, the state of Nevada has the right to reject Bush’s decision. The state of Nevada has already filed two lawsuits over Yucca Mountain and will soon file a third. Because of the state’s rejection, the decision will be sent to Congress for a simple majority vote.

Two Patriot Advance Capability (PAC) intercept missiles miss their targets in a test at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Three targets and three missiles are fired into the air at the same time. While one of the Raytheon built PAC-2 missiles successfully hits a full-scale drone aircraft, a second PAC-2 and a PAC-3 both miss their targets. According to Army officials, prior to this test, the PAC-3 has successfully completed 11 development flight tests, including two controlled tests, three cruise missile intercepts and one aircraft intercept. PAC testing is part of the Pentagon's testing of a land-based missile defense system.

Media reports reveal that for the past year, an Indian Navy submarine crew team has been training in Russia, including training in an Akula-II SSN nuclear powered attack submarine. According to sources in New Delhi and Moscow, India is currently negotiating with Russia to lease an unfinished Akula-II Bars class nuclear submarine. Akula-IIs, the fastest Soviet submarines, are known to be armed with up to 12 cruise missiles and Starfish and Stallion anti-ship missiles.

Clarifying the Bush administration’s policy on the issue of negative security assurances, State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher states that the US would not use nuclear weapons against a non-nuclear state unless the state attacked the US or its allies in conjunction with a nuclear state. He added that the US reserves the right to make any kind of military response if it or its allies come under attack by weapons of mass destruction. The negative security assurance states, "The United States reaffirms that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon state-parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an invasion or any other attack on the United States, its territories, its armed forces or other troops, its allies, or on a state toward which it has a security commitment carried out, or sustained by such a non-nuclear-weapon state in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon state."

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moves the minute hand of the "Doomsday Clock" forward two minutes due to growing concern about the security of nuclear weapons materials stockpiled around the world and a lack of US support for several global disarmament pacts. The minute hand is now positioned at seven minutes to midnight, the same position as when the clock made its debut in 1947. The move marks the third time the hand has been advanced since the end of the Cold War in 1991. The hand was last moved in June 1998, from 14 minutes to nine minutes to midnight. The clock has been reset 16 times previously in its 55-year history. For more information on the "Doomsday Clock" and to read the full report regarding the minute hand advancement, please visit: http://www.bullatomsci.org

France’s Independent Commission on Research and Information on Radioactivity (CRIIRAD) files a civil suit against President Jacques Chirac’s government on the grounds that the government covered-up risks to public health after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. According to the CRIIRAD, the French government was aware that the radioactive fallout from the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant posed risks to public health, but deliberately failed to warn the public.

 A documentary broadcast in Germany reveals that for four months in 1959, two secret bunker complexes at Furstenberg and Vogelsang, in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), housed R5M missiles with nuclear warheads targeted at western European capitals. Four of the R5M missiles were targeted at London and another eight were targeted at Paris, the Ruhr, the West German capital, Bonn and Brussels. The R5M was the first Soviet missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead and could travel up to 745 miles. Then-Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev signed Order 589-365, deploying the 72nd Brigade to position the weapons and was notified in May 1959, "Units ready for action." On word from the USSR, the East German military would have the missiles ready for launch in five hours. In early September 1959, Khrushchev recalled the 72nd Brigade. Researchers discovered details of the secret movement of the weapons to the GDR in former Stasi secret police files.

500 hours of declassified tapes are released at the National Archives. The tapes reveal National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger and then-US President Richard Nixon discussing options for targets including power plants and docks in the Vietnam War in April 1972. President Nixon states, "I’d rather use the nuclear bomb." Dr. Kissinger replies to the suggestion, "That, I think, would just be too much." President Nixon goes on to say, "The nuclear bomb. Does that bother you? I just want you to think big." Prior to the exchange with Henry Kissinger, Nixon had alluded to exploring the possibility of the "nuclear option," but said he had ruled it out because he was presented with civilian and not military targets.

Media reports reveal that in the first hours after the 11 September events, US President George W. Bush ordered the deployment of a "shadow government" comprised of some 100 senior civilian managers to live and work outside Washington, D.C. The "shadow government" is the first-ever activation of the Cold War-era "Continuity of Operation Plan" to ensure that the government would continue in the event of a catastrophic attack on the US capital. The plan has evolved into an indefinite precaution and high-ranking government officials representing various departments will rotate in and out of assignment at one of two clandestine fortified locations on the East Coast.

In a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, nuclear experts testify to the threat posed by terrorists obtaining "dirty bombs," and the effects of crude nuclear weapons. Dirty bombs are comprised of radioactive material dispersed by conventional explosives. According to Henry Kelly, president of the Federation of American Scientists, if a small medical gauge of cesium like the one recently found abandoned in North Carolina was exploded in Washington, D.C., residents over a five city-block radius would have a one in 1,000 chance of getting cancer. He also states that if a cobalt bomb was used in New York City, contamination would be far more serious and people living for 40 years within a 300 block radius would have a one-in-ten risk of death from cancer. The experts testify that the biggest concern is still posed by terrorists obtaining weapons-grade materials such as uranium and plutonium. The experts state that safeguarding nuclear materials should be a priority, particularly in Russia where hundreds of tons of weapon-grade material are scattered across the country.

A federal judge in British Columbia rules that the Canadian government has improperly seized ownership of Nanoose Bay, a site that the US and Canadian Navies use as a torpedo testing range. Canada’s federal government expropriated the bay in 1999 because of contention with the nuclear free province of British Columbia over whether nuclear-armed vessels can use it. Because the US will neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear warheads on Navy submarines, it makes a pledge of no nuclear weapons in the bay impossible. Justice Campbell rules that the federal government failed to meet the requirements for expropriation, reopening the debate on whether or not nuclear armed vessels may enter and use the site.

The Bush administration agrees to restore $300 million in the 2003 budget that was cut from a Department of Energy (DoE) program to clean-up waste at the most contaminated nuclear site in the US. Under a new agreement, the Hanford nuclear production site in Washington state will undergo an accelerated cleanup. Hanford is a 560-square-mile site where plutonium was made for more than 40 years for the nation’s nuclear arsenal. The new target date for cleanup, originally set for 2070, is now 2025. The administration also agrees to spend an additional $150 million next year, bringing Hanford’s total 2003 budget to some $2 billion. The new agreement between the DoE, Washington State and federal regulators calls for speeding up retrieval of more than 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks near the Columbia River. The tanks have leaked more than one million gallons into the soil and ground water. The agreement will also accelerate cleanup of basins where lethal, corroding spent nuclear fuel rods are stored and speed up the processing of scrap plutonium.

Reports surface in major US media that the US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) released to Congress on 9 January contains contingency plans for using nuclear weapons against seven states: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, North Korea, Russia and China. It also reportedly contains plans to develop and deploy new "earth-penetrating" nuclear weapons and to accelerate the time it would take to resume full-scale nuclear testing. In the past, nuclear weapons have been viewed as a deterrent against the use of nuclear weapons. However, the Bush administration plans reveal that nuclear weapons will now be integrated into a full spectrum of war-fighting capabilities, including missile defenses. The NPR reveals that nuclear weapons are no longer weapons of last resort, but instruments that could be used in fighting wars. The reports raise international concern that the US plans will encourage nuclear proliferation and the possible resumption of nuclear testing.

South Korea announces that it will deploy land-to-air missiles outside of stadiums during the 2002 World Cup games. The portable French-made missiles are meant to prevent possible terrorist attacks during the games being held from 31 May to 30 June. South Korea has also set up an anti-terrorism unit and imposed no-fly zones for non-South Korean air force planes over the World Cup stadiums and nuclear power plants during the tournament. South Korean police force members have also undergone training for hostage rescue operations.

The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) announces it completed what it considers a successful test involving a planned intercept of an intercontinental ballistic missile. The test takes place over the central Pacific Ocean where a modified Minuteman II intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and a prototype interceptor, launched from the Ronald Reagan Missile Site, Kwajalein Atoll, collide. The intercept takes place at an altitude some 140 miles above the earth and during the midcourse phase of the target warhead's flight. The test of the Ground-Based Midcourse (GMD) system, formerly known as the National Missile Defense (NMD), costs some $100 million.

US President George W. Bush accepts a recommendation from Secretary of State Colin Powell to withhold for the first time an annual certification required by Congress to verify that North Korea is abiding by 1994 Agreed Framework. Under the 1994 Agreed Framework, North Korea agreed to freeze its nuclear program and shut down reactors that produced a heavy plutonium byproduct. In exchange, the US agreed to construct two lightwater reactors to make up for the loss of power. Since Bush became president, US-North Korea relations have greatly deteriorated. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Greenpeace, Kodiak Rocket Launch Information Group and No Nukes North drop a lawsuit filed against the US Department of Defense (DoD) on 28 August 2001 challenging the DoD’s failure to perform the required environmental assessments at Alaska sites under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). In exchange, the DoD agrees to perform public environmental impact statements for missile defense sites at Kodiak and Ft. Greely, Alaska.

The US Army conducts the second operational test of PAC-3 missile defense system at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Army officials state that the aim of the test is to determine whether the PAC-3 system could pick the right missile to use against the two targets. The Army claims that the test was a success. A PAC-2 missile simultaneously engages and destroys a subscale drone target according to Army officials. The PAC-2 has a blast fragmentation warhead that is more effective against aircraft. Police arrest a 26-year-old man in Saint Petersberg, Russia after he is found walking down the street carrying an anti-aircraft missile. According to the police, the man said he found the fully operational Igla missile on a shooting range outside of the northern Russian city and was on his way to show friends.

Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Ivanov states that his country is preparing technical and scientific measures to counter the planned US missile defense. Ivanov states, "I want to underline that the US shield does not yet exist, and so it is difficult to speak of retaliatory measures.We [Russia] are going to do everything to counter these threats when they take shape, which is to say not before 2015-2020." The Russian Army is expected to undergo a thorough modernization over the next 15 years.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission releases a report stating that an acid leak that ate through a steel cap over a reactor at the Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Ohio should have been spotted as long as four years ago. The problem was not discovered until the plant was shut down for refueling in February 2002. According to the NRC, it is the most extensive corrosion ever found on top of a US nuclear reactor. The damage will keep the plant, located along Lake Erie, shut until at least June. The NRC says that the damage does not pose a safety threat, however it orders operators of all 69 pressurized water reactors in the US to submit information on the structural integrity of their plant’s reactor heads.

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) issues a report stating that an electrician’s mistake caused an accident on 26 March at the Browns Ferry nuclear power plant located in northern Alabama that seriously burned four workers. The TVA and state emergency management officials state that there was no danger of a release of radioactivity from the plant

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf states in an interview, "The use of nuclear weapons is only the last resort for us. We are acting responsibly." He says that Pakistan would only use nuclear weapons against India if the country is "in danger of vanishing off the map."

States parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) meet at the United Nations in New York for the first Preparatory Committee (Prep Com) meeting to the 2005 review conference of the treaty. This is the first meeting of the States parties to the NPT since the 2000 Review Conference at which the Thirteen Practical Steps to Implement Article VI Obligations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty were adopted.

Ground clearing for the ground-based midcourse missile defense system interceptors at the Ft. Greely, Alaska site is halted when workers dig up barrels holding what might be aged remains of dangerous chemicals. Ft. Greely housed an experimental nuclear reactor from 1962 to 1972 and was the site where biological and chemical weapons were tested in the 1950s and 1960s. According to the Army, some 20 barrels, labeled "USCWS," which stands for US Chemical Warfare Service, have been found and more barrels may be unearthed.

The Fugen 165,00-kilowatt thermal nuclear reactor in western Japan is shut down due to a leakage of steam containing radiation. The Japanese government issues a White Paper on Nuclear Safety stating that the country's nuclear safety record improved in 2001. The report focuses on the safe use of plutonium, which Japan is trying to recycle and blend with Uranium to use at some nuclear power plants as fuel.

Russia’s newest nuclear reactor at the Rostov Nuclear Power Plant in the southern part of the country shuts down automatically after a malfunction occurs in a steam valve. It is the reactor’s second shut down since it went online last year. It is the only new nuclear reactor that has been opened in Russia since the 1986 explosion at the Soviet plant at Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Ten countries ratify the Rome Statute, surpassing the number of ratifications needed to adopt a treaty creating the world's first independent and permanent International Criminal Court. The International Criminal Court (ICC) will be able to investigate and prosecute those individuals accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, and crimes of war. The ICC will complement existing national judicial systems and step in only if national courts are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute such crimes. The ICC will also help defend the rights of those, such as women and children, who have often had little recourse to justice. To date, 66 countries have ratified the Rome Statute. The treaty creating the tribunal will enter into force on July 1, 2002.

Reactor No. 3 at Ukraine’s Rivne nuclear power plant shuts down after a short circuit occurs in the electricity lines. The plant was shut down five days earlier because of a leak in the generator’s cooling system. Rivne’s Reactor No. 1 is also currently shut down for repairs and Reactor No. 6 at Zaporoshye nuclear power plant is also undergoing repairs. The country has thirteen nuclear reactors at four plants.

Taiwan’s military declassifies documents revealing secret plans to retake the Chinese mainland in the 1950s. The documents include a plan to fire nuclear artillery shells at a Chinese port. According to a spokesman for Taiwan’s Defense Ministry, the documents are being released for use by researchers and academics, but not for the public. Hoping the US would provide it nuclear weapons technology, the Taiwanese army devised a plan in 1958 to fire nuclear shells at Xiamen, a southern port on mainland China. According to reports, the US military first worked on the plan with the Taiwanese army. The US later dropped the plan fearing that it could cause a heavy death toll in China and prompt it to seek nuclear weapons technology from the USSR.

Responding to reports that US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has encouraged defense scientists to begin exploring the idea of nuclear-tipped interceptors in a national missile defense system, Air Force Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the Missile Defense Agency, says his agency has no plans to use nuclear weapons. Kadish tells a Senate Appropriations subcommittee that while "we have no part of our program that involves nuclear-tipped interceptors," he acknowledges that "some people are thinking about it." The Pentagon first experimented with the idea of using nuclear-tipped interceptors in an anti-missile system in the 1950s and 1960s and then again in the mid-1970s. Because it has traditionally been technically problematic and politically unacceptable, the Pentagon has primarily focussed on developing "hit-to-kill" technology.

Russia announces that it plans to build 10 nuclear reactors in foreign countries over the next decade.

The European Commission issues a warning to EU candidate countries Lithuania and Bulgaria, and also to non-candidate-country Armenia not to delay in the shutdown of nuclear power plants that are deemed unsafe.

The disputed Temelin plant on the Austrian border is restarted after being shut down for exactly two months. The plant was initially shut down for a planned technical inspection, but faulty turbine valves were found and replaced. The plant's entry into commercial operation has been repeatedly delayed by technical and political problems. Austrian politicians are calling for the plant to be closed saying it is unsafe. Despite protests from Austria, the Czech Republic is moving forward with opening a second reactor at Temelin.

An operational flight test of the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile defense system only hits one of its two target missiles. The test is the third of four operational flight tests for the PAC-3 system, which is designed to intercept and destroy tactical ballistic missiles. According to the Army, "the first PAC-3 missile failed to launch and the missile system launched the second missile," which successfully intercepted its target. The cause of the launch failure is not known.

A top-secret official assessment that was made in March 1955 concerning whether Britain could survive a thermonuclear attack from the USSR is made public. The Ministry of Defense document DEFE 13/45 was authored by William Strath and served as the basis of civil defense planning throughout the late 1950s and 1960s

Nevada authorities announce that they are offering a fund-raising license plate to honor Nevada’s atomic past. The brown and purple license plates depict a mushroom cloud, the nucleus-and-atom logo for nuclear energy and Albert Einstein’s formula for the theory of relativity. More than 100,00 workers helped develop the nation’s nuclear arsenal in Nevada. Full scale above- and below-ground nuclear tests were conducted at the Nevada Test Site from 1952 to 1992. Subcritical nuclear tests, which are not considered full nuclear tests because they do not achieve a self-sustained nuclear reaction, are still conducted at the site.

A Russian bomber on a training exercise launches a cruise missile that crashes near a remote village in Kazakhstan. According to Russian Air Force Spokesman Alexander Drobyshevsky, the missile is fired from a TU-22M3 Backfire strategic bomber and the missile’s control system malfunctions soon after launch. The missile is not carrying a warhead and crashes into a sparsely populated area. No injuries or damages are reported. However, Russia has launched at least five missiles that have fallen onto Kazakh territory over the last few years.

India tests the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile, jointly developed with Russia, despite an on-going standoff since 13 December with nuclear rival Pakistan. Pakistani officials immediately voice concern about the missile test and claim that Russia is violating its obligations under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) by jointly developing the Brahmos missile with India. The missile has a range of some 175 miles. The introduction of such new weapon systems further aggravate the existing nuclear dangers in the region.

Taiwan agrees to study ways to remove 100,000 barrels of nuclear waste from Orchid Island. For years, residents, particularly the Yamis indigenous tribe, demanded that the Taiwanese government remove the waste with no response. Taiwan Power is considering moving the waste to another outlying island or possibly shipping the waste abroad to Russia or China, though no timeline was set.

Taiwan successfully test-fires the locally-made Sky Bow II, a surface-to-air missile that some Taiwanese experts hope will eventually replace the US-made Patriot missiles. The Sky Bow II missile has a range of some 120 miles.

The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) announces that it will abandon construction on a dock for rearming nuclear submarines. The concrete jetty was being built in the middle of the River Tamar at Plymouth in order to relocate the work of re-arming Britain's submarine fleet away from the heavily populated area around Devonport. A MoD safety assessment concluded that the risk to people living near the existing submarine base is less than originally estimated.

The Russian government announces it will help Myanmar, also called Burma, to construct a center for nuclear studies and a research nuclear reactor with a thermal capacity of 10 megawatts. The agreement will also include structures for the disposal of nuclear waste and a waste burial site. Under the agreement, Russia will deliver the fuel.

President Vladimir Putin urges the Russian government to draft proposals to dispose of aging weapons stockpiles inherited from the Soviet Union, stating at a meeting with Cabinet officials, "We must think about financing the destruction of excessive stockpiles of aging weapons which have become a liability and, sometimes, an environmental hazard."

An official from the National Institute of Atomic Energy announces that Vietnam is setting up a group to study the feasibility of building the country's first nuclear power plant. The group is expected to submit its findings to Vietnam's National Assembly in late 2003. According to the official, Russia, China and South Korea have offered to sell Vietnam the technology to build the plant.

Finland’s parliament approves the construction of the country’s fifth nuclear reactor. It is the first such nuclear plant to be authorized in Western Europe or North America since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. The decision comes at a time when other European countries, notably Germany and Sweden, plan to phase out their nuclear power.

United States President George W. Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin sign the Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty (SORT) and a Joint Statement agreeing to reduce operationally deployed offensive strategic nuclear weapons to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012. The treaty lacked timelines, verification and implementation measures of previous strategic arms control agreements, and does not call for the destruction of any warheads or delivery vehicles.

Pakistan test fires three missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads into India between 25 and 28 May. Pakistan insists that the missile tests were routine, however, some say the tests were clearly meant to send a message to India that Pakistan could meet any attack with massive retaliation and has the capability to send nuclear weapons to Indian cities.

The US Department of Energy (DoE) announces that it will resume production of plutonium pits, which are used to trigger nuclear warheads and were last produced in 1989. The facility is expected to cost between $2.2 billion and $4.4 billion and is anticipated to begin production by 2020.

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory carry out a subcritical nuclear test, code-named "Oboe 9," at the Nevada Test Site. According to a statement from the National Nuclear Security Administration, "Data from monitoring instruments confirmed that the experiment was subcritical, that is, no self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction occurred." This was the 17th subcritical nuclear test conducted by the United States.

The US Navy announces that it conducted what it considers the second successful test of a sea-based missile defense system. The test was intended to demonstrate that a missile guided by the Aegis radar system can knock down a medium- or long-range missile under controlled conditions.

The Office of Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) releases a report which states that standard security checks have not been carried out at several nuclear power facilities in the UK because of staff shortages. According to OCNS, some inspections were suspended after staff were diverted from routine work in the aftermath of the 11 September terrorist attacks in the US. The report also said that OCNS has lost experienced security staff to the private sector and the organization is finding it difficult to recruit replacements.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals revives two lawsuits filed by thousands who claimed they were sickened by radiation releases from the Hanford nuclear weapons complex, ordering a federal trial court in Washington state to reconsider the claims that were dismissed in part in 1998.

Greenpeace makes public internal documents of Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy that highlights the lack of an agreement with Iran to ensure the return of spent fuel from the Bushehr nuclear power reactor project. There is concern that should the spent fuel from the plant being built in Iran by Russia remain in Iran it may be used in a suspected Iranian nuclear weapons programs. The leaked documents also include a statement by the Russian nuclear supervisory agency denouncing plans to make Russia the world's leading importer of nuclear waste.

Valery Lebedev, Russia’s deputy nuclear power minister, announces that his country will build a nuclear waste dump facility, which is said to be critical to dismantle 190 decommissioned nuclear-power submarines. Sites under consideration include the southern tip of the Arctic Novaya Zemlya archipelago and three alternative sites on mainland Russia including a site in the Archangelsk region, one near Murmansk and one in the central part of the Kola Peninsula.

Lt. Gen. Ronald Kadish, director of the US Missile Defense Agency, announces that the Pentagon plans to keep secret an increasing amount of information about development of a missile defense system. Senator Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) responds to the announcement stating, "The sole reason for classifying this kind of basic information is to squelch criticism about the missile defense programs." Kadish defends the secrecy plans as necessary to ensure that US adversaries do not learn how to defeat the system.

G8 countries agree to a Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction committing to raise $20 billion in cooperative threat reduction projects over the next decade. Though the funds can be used in any requesting country, priorities include the dismantlement of decommissioned nuclear submarines, the disposition of fissile materials and the employment of former weapons scientists in Russia .

British Nuclear Fuels, Ltd.(BNFL) ships carrying 255 kilograms (560 pounds) of rejected mixed oxide (MOX) fuel leave Japanese ports to be returned to the fuel’s maker in Great Britain in a two-month journey. Japan’s Kansai Electric Power Co. imported the fuel in 1999 for its experimental nuclear power program, but Japan later rejected the fuel when BNFL revealed that it had falsified quality-control data. The shipment sparked international concern from governments and organizations fearing a leak of radioactive material, an accident or a terrorist attack.

The US Senate votes 60-39 to override Nevada’s veto of the plan to make Yucca Mountain the national nuclear waste repository.

Amid a face-off with Pakistan over Kashmir, Indian scientists claim that the country has developed nuclear shelters and a mobile decontamination system to protect troops from a nuclear strike

Throughout mid-July, dozens of wildfires burning in parts of Belarus that were most affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster raise radiation levels in the area.

Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Huang Suey-sheng states that his country needs an island-wide missile defense system to counter a growing threat from rival China, which has over 300 missiles pointed at the island. According to Huang, "In the future, we’ll need to buy systems from overseas or domestically manufacture them so we can aggressively create an island-wide missile defense system."

The US Department of Defense (DoD) carries out the first flight test of a modified Boeing 747-400 in Wichita, Kansas. The aircraft is planned to house a high-energy chemical laser intended to shoot down ballistic missiles in their boost phase, as part of the US ballistic missile defense system.

Israel seeks to sell the Arrow Missile Defense System to India, requiring US approval. The Bush administration and Israeli officials believe that the sale of the Arrow System could strengthen both Israel-India as well as US-India relations.

A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a missile scientist and advocate of nuclear weapons for use as a war deterrent, is sworn in as India ’s twelfth president. Kalam worked for more than four decades in India’s defense laboratories and was one of the leaders in developing the country’s space and nuclear capable missile program. He was also part of the team that conducted five underground nuclear tests in May 1998.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says that he will not allow UN monitors to inspect his country’s nuclear facilities, stating, "Our nuclear facilities are fully secure and there’s no need for inspection by UN experts."

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) orders two uranium fuel plants in Virginia and Tennessee to immediately adopt stricter anti-terrorist measures. The NRC does not disclose details of its order, but said it included requirements for "increased patrols, augmented security forces and capabilities, additional security posts, installation of additional physical barriers, vehicle checks at greater standoff distances, enhanced coordination with law enforcement and military authorities, and more restricted site access controls."

China issues new regulations on the control of the export of missile technology, yet fails to release the list of items subject to the new rules.

US Undersecretary of State John Bolton condemns North Korea as "an evil regime that is armed to the teeth, including with weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles." Bolton states that North Korea must quickly allow UN inspectors to determine whether it has been building nuclear bombs or place at risk the 1994 Agreed Framework, an agreement that includes the construction of nuclear power reactors.

The US conducts its 18th subcritical nuclear test at an underground test site in Nevada. The test was the fifth since President George W. Bush has taken office.

In a highly secretive operation, the United States helps remove two and a half nuclear bombs worth of vulnerable highly enriched uranium (HEU) from the Vinca research reactor, a poorly secured facility in Belgrade, Yugoslavia . The Nuclear Threat Initiative, a nongovernmental nonproliferation organization, contributed $5 million to the project.

Iran successfully test fires the Fateh 110 A, a new ballistic missile that experts say might be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. No details were given on when or where in Iran the test was conducted nor was the missile's range revealed. Experts speculate that Iran may be able to fire the new missile well within the borders of Iraq, Turkey and Afghanistan, but probably not Israel.

Sources reveal that the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) wants to resume operating its No. 3 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata Prefecture, Japan without repairing a crack in the reactor's shroud. In addition, TEPCO may restart five reactors in Niigata and Fukushima prefectures now being shut down after a whistle-blower revealed the country's largest utility firm tried to cover up inspections showing cracks in their shrouds.

Cuba announces that it will sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque stated, "As a sign of the clear political will of the Cuban government and its commitment to an effective process of disarmament that guarantees world peace, our country has decided to adhere to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty." Cuba also announces it will ratify the Latin American and Caribbean nuclear free zone agreement, known as the Treaty of Tlatelolco, which it signed in 1995.

Iraq 's foreign minister pledges to allow United Nations weapons inspectors to return to his country "without conditions" for the first time since UN arms experts left in 1998. The concession is likely in response to United States. efforts to convince the Security Council to sanction the use of force against Iraq.

Russia ’s Minister of Atomic Energy Alexander Rumyantsev announces that Russia has started construction of a new waste storage facility with a capacity of 33,000 tons. Although Rumyantsev did not reveal the location of the new storage facility, there is speculation that it is in the Krasnoyarsk region of Siberia and that it is being built as an extension of existing major facilities.

The administration of US President George W. Bush publishes its first comprehensive rationale for shifting American military strategy toward pre-emptive action against hostile states and terrorist groups developing weapons of mass destruction in a document entitled "The National Security Strategy of the United States." The document also states for the first time that the US will never allow its military supremacy to be challenged the way it was during the Cold War.

India successfully test-fires its most sophisticated short-range missile, the Trishul, from a missile range in the eastern state of Orissa on the country's east coast. The Trishul, which means Trident, is an indigenously developed surface-to-air missile and was developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) for the Indian military. The missile has a nine kilometer (5.58 mile) range and can carry a 15 kilogram (33 pound) warhead.

The United States National Nuclear Security Agency carries out its 18th subcritical nuclear test, code-named "Rocco," at the Nevada Test Site.

Pakistan announces that it successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile on 4 and 8 October. Analysts said the test was partly a message that Pakistan's military was capable of defending the country at a time of increased tension with India. The missile, named Hatf-IV (Shaheen-1), has a range of 430 miles and can carry a 2,200 lb warhead.

North Korea admits to having a clandestine program to enrich uranium to James Kelly, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. The country later denies such admission.

Cuba joins the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) suspends shipments of reactor fuel to North Korea in response to the nation's admission of a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

A group of countries launches the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC) at The Hague in the Netherlands. The ICOC aims to support efforts to curb ballistic missile proliferation worldwide and to further delegitimize such proliferation.

A Spanish fleet intercepts a ship carrying Scud missiles from North Korea to Yemen.

North Korea informs the International Atomic Energy Agency that it will be restarting reactors turned off during its voluntary moratorium. North Korea cites a need for electricity, but ejects all IAEA officials from the country.

North Korea expels all International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors. This action leaves the IAEA unable to verify that North Korea is in full compliance with its safeguards agreement and increases concerns about a North Korean nuclear weapons program.