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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 2010s  2016

  2016  

North Korea conducts its fourth test of a nuclear weapon.

Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are voted the "2015 Arms Control Person of the Year."

Israel receives a fifth Dolphin-class nuclear-capable submarine produced by Germany.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran Deal, goes into effect. 

Admiral Cecil D. Haney, head of U.S. Strategic Command, confirms that China is "re-engineering its long-range ballistic missiles to carry multiple nuclear warheads.”

North Korea launches a satellite into space, claiming that the launch is for scientific and peaceful purposes.

The U.S. launches Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament convenes in Geneva.

French President Francois Hollande acknowledges that the 193 nuclear tests conducted by France in French Polynesia had serious consequences. 

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) delivers a floor speech in the House of Representatives criticizing the Obama administration’s plans to spend billions of dollars on modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal in fiscal year 2017.

Oral arguments begin in the Marshall Islands’ lawsuits against the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan.

Cambridge, Massachusetts City Council votes unanimously to divest the city’s $1 billion pension fund from companies that finance or produce nuclear weapons.

The U.S. hosts the fourth, and possibly final, Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. The summit brings together high-level leaders from over 50 nations, including seven of the nine countries that possess nuclear weapons. Russia and North Korea do not attend the summit.

Secretary of State John Kerry visits the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, the first sitting U.S. secretary of state to visit the site.

Dutch Parliament holds a debate on a national ban on nuclear weapons. The debate came about through a citizens’ initiative by PAX, ASN Bank and the Dutch Red Cross.

The United States’ European missile defense shield goes live, almost a decade after Washington’s initial proposal to protect NATO states from Iran’s alleged increasing nuclear capacity.

Pakistan formally applies for entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), after China blocked India’s entry into the 48-member elite group.

Barack Obama visits Hiroshima, the first sitting U.S. President to do so.

The New York Times releases the first in a series of investigative articles about the Palomares plane crash of 1966, which scattered radioactive material over nearly 100 acres of a Spanish village. Today, Air Force veterans who cleaned up debris immediately following the crash are contracting cancer at heightened levels. The VA does not cover medical expenses for these servicemen, as the Air Force kept few records of the accident and its aftermath. 

North Korea successfully launches another ballistic missile after a string of failed launches.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E) announces that it will close the two reactors at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in 2025 and, in their place, will develop more solar, wind, and other clean power sources. 

Over five years after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant crisis began, TEPCO President Naomi Hirose publicly apologizes for his predecessor’s order to not use the phrase “core meltdown” in March 2011. 

Over 90 prominent scientists, including many Nobel Laureates, send a letter to President Obama, calling for action on nuclear weapons. 

The United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), for the 11th consecutive year, adopts a strong resolution in support of nuclear disarmament. 

U.S. House of Representatives passes two amendments to block sales of Boeing and Airbus aircraft to Iran, despite agreements in the nuclear deal that allowed for such sales.

A year after the JCPOA was signed, confidence in it continues to drop: a public opinion study from the University of Maryland reveals that 72% of Iranians are not confident that the U.S. will uphold its obligations.

Newly elected Prime Minister Theresa May of the U.K. wins a parliamentary vote to update Britain's nuclear arsenal. “It would be an act of gross irresponsibility to lose the ability to meet such threats,” May stated. 

Iranian scientist-turned-spy Shahram Amiri, who served as a CIA informant regarding Iran’s possible nuclear weapons program, is executed after returning to Iran.

The U.S.S. Louisiana, a nuclear-armed submarine, collides with the U.S.N.S. Eagleview while conducting routine operations off the coast of Washington State. The ships are damaged, but nobody is injured.

North Korea successfully launches a ballistic missile from a submarine.

Iran deploys Russian-made air-defense system around its underground Fordo nuclear facility. 

North Korea test-fires three missiles toward Japan on the final day of the Group of 20 summit meeting, where the president of South Korea called for an end to North Korea’s provocations.  

In its fifth test, North Korea claims to have detonated a nuclear warhead. According to South Korea's Meteorological Administration, the blast was estimated to have the explosive power of 10 kilotons. In the wake of the test, American military experts predict that North Korea will have the skills to make a nuclear warhead for a missile by 2020

A terrorist attack in Uri, a region of Kashmir controlled by India, leaves 18 soldiers dead. The Indian government blames Pakistan for the attack, which the Pakistani government denies. Tensions between the two nuclear powers continue to mount, as India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi vows that “those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished.”

In the wake of North Korea’s nuclear test, the Chinese government announces an unprecedented criminal investigation into a Chinese conglomerate that potentially provided North Korea with materials that could be used in the production of nuclear weapons. 

In leaked recordings of a speech at a campaign fundraiser, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticizes Obama’s proposed trillion-dollar plan to modernize American nuclear forces—particularly the Pentagon’s proposal for a nuclear-tipped cruise missile. “The last thing we need are sophisticated cruise missiles that are nuclear armed,” Clinton stated.

Vladimir Putin signs a decree withdrawing Russia from its plutonium disposal treaty with the U.S., citing deteriorating relations.

The International Court of Justice rules that the Marshall Islands cannot sue the U.K., India, and Pakistan on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction in the matter.

North Korea fires a ballistic missile that explodes immediately after launch.

Iran’s conservative judiciary, staunchly opposed to the JCPOA, sentences Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer Namazi, two Iranian-American businessmen, to ten years in prison for allegedly spying for and collaborating with the American government

In a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, James R. Clapper Jr., director of national intelligence, states that convincing North Korea to renounce nuclear weapons is “probably a lost cause.”

Donald Trump is elected President of the United States, causing widespread alarm regarding his understanding of and attitude toward nuclear weapons. During his campaign, Trump reputedly asked multiple times, “If we have nuclear weapons why can’t we use them?”

76 foreign policy experts from both political parties sign the National Iranian American Council’s report urging Donald Trump to reverse his hostility toward the JCPOA, and to use it as a tool of improving relations with Iran.

Additionally, in a continued effort to halt North Korea’s nuclear program, the United Nations imposes tighter sanctions on North Korean coal exports. The Security Council unanimously adopts the sanctions—including China, North Korea’s closest semblance of an ally.

In the wake of Trump’s election, CIA director John O. Brennan warns the incoming president that abandoning the JCPOA would be “the height of folly.” During the presidential campaign, Trump referred to the agreement with Iran as “the worst deal ever negotiated,” and pledged to “dismantle” it.

The American Senate votes to extend the president's authority to impose sanctions on Iran for another decade, a largely symbolic move to keep pressure on Iran to uphold the nuclear agreement.

Regarding the recent American election and Trump’s assertions that the American nuclear arsenal has “fallen way behind” Russia’s, Putin states, “We have a joint responsibility for the provision of international security and stability, for the strengthening of non-proliferation regimes,” in his annual address to the nation.

In response to Washington’s vote to extend sanctions, Iranian President Rouhani asserts that he will not allow Trump to “tear up” the nuclear agreement, further stating, “America is our enemy… the Americans want to put as much pressure on us as they can.”

President-elect Trump tweets that the United States should “expand its nuclear capability,” seemingly in response to Putin’s earlier statement that Russia must bolster its own nuclear forces to protect against the Pentagon’s efforts to develop a greater nuclear defense system. 

Pakistani defense minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif writes a tweet directed at Israel threatening the use of nuclear weapons, in response to a fake news article claiming Israel had threatened to “destroy” Pakistan with a nuclear attack.

Intensifying his assertion about increasing American nuclear capabilities, Trump states in an interview, “Let it be an arms race… we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” 

A senior North Korean diplomat who defected to South Korea holds a press conference in Seoul, where he asserts that, “As long as Kim Jong-un is in power, North Korea will never give up its nuclear weapons.”