Timelines :: Atomic Age

Albert Einstein developed a theory about the relationship of mass and energy. The formula, E=mc[2], is clearly the most famous outcome from Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

December 1938
Enrico Fermi became the first physicist to split the atom. His research pioneered the nuclear age.

August 1939
Physicist Albert Einstein sends a letter to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, warning him that German researchers are working on an atomic bomb. Roosevelt forms a special committee to consider the military implications of atomic research.

September 1942
The Manhattan Project was formed to secretly build the atomic bomb before the Germans. The Army appointed General Leslie Groves, the engineer responsible for building the Pentagon, to head the effort. At first, the research took place at several university laboratories.

December 1942
Enrico Fermi demonstrated the first nuclear chain reaction in a lab under the squash court at the University of Chicago. In a nuclear chain reaction, a neutron splits one uranium atom into two smaller atoms, which in turn release energy and neutrons; these neutrons split other uranium atoms, releasing more energy and neutrons.

July 1945
The United States exploded the first atomic device at a site near Alamogordo, New Mexico. At 5:30 am, July 16, 1945, scientists from Los Alamos, watching from observation bunkers 10,000 yards away, exploded an atomic device with a plutonium core, releasing a blast equivalent to 18,600 tons of TNT.

August 1945
The United States drops atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. On August 6, 1945, a B-29 bomber–the Enola Gay–released a 9,700-pound uranium bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, over the city of Hiroshima in southern Japan. On August 9, another B-29 bomber–Bock’s Car–headed to bomb Kokura Arsenal; however, the pilot switched to his secondary target, Nagasaki, because of the weather over Kokura. Nagasaki was the home of a Mitsubishi torpedo manufacturing plant. Bock’s Car dropped a 10,000-pound plutonium bomb, nicknamed Fat Man, over the slopes of Nagasaki. Fat Man killed 40,000, injured 60,000, and destroyed three square miles of the city.

August 1949
The Soviet Union detonated its first atomic device on August 29, 1949. The event surprised American nuclear scientists–who hadn’t expected it so soon–and shook the American public’s sense of security.

December 1949
The United States now has 200 A-bombs in its arsenal.

October 1952
England becomes the third nuclear power when it tests an Atomic bomb code named Hurricane at Monte Bello Islands, West Australia.

November 1952
The United States tests its first hydrogen bomb on Elugelap island. The bast was equal to 10.4 megatons, 700 times the power of Little Boy.

January 1954
The first nuclear submarine, U.S.S. Nautilus, was launched at Groton, Connecticut on.

December 1958
Atlas rocket developed using stainless steel tank for liquid oxygen + kerosene. The Atlas rocket would become the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile armed with nuclear weapons.

February 1960
France joins the atomic club by testing a device in the Sahara desert, a plutonium implosion bomb.

October 1961
The Soviet Union detonates a nuclear device, estimated at 58 megatons, the equivalent of more than 50 million tons of TNT, or more than all the explosives used during World War II. It remains the largest nuclear weapon the world had ever seen.

October 1962
The Soviet Union ships nuclear missiles to Cuba. Upon discovery of the missiles, the United States demands they be removed. For two weeks, the world is thrust to the brink of nuclear war, until Moscow agrees to remove the missiles.

October 1964
The People’s Republic of China explodes its first nuclear bomb.

May 1974
India detonates its first nuclear device, a 10-to-15 kiloton bomb, under the Rajasthan desert.

April 1986
A meltdown and fire occur at the Chernobyl Nuclear Reactor in the Soviet Ukraine. Massive quantities of radioactive materials are released, affecting much of Europe.

March 1993
South Africa confirms in the late 1980’s it manufactured a total of 6 nuclear bombs.

August 1995
The “Jason report” proposes that nuclear tests can be conducted on computers without the need of nuclear explosions.

October 1995
The U.S. nuclear warhead stockpile totals 9000: 7000 in the continental U.S.; 480 in Europe; 1500 with submarines.

May 1998
India conducts five underground nuclear tests. Pakistan responds with its own series of nuclear tests, several days later.

August – The giant Russian nuclear submarine Kursk — carrying a crew of 118 — sank in the icy waters of the Barents Sea after what Russian officials described as a “catastrophe that developed at lightning speed.” More than a week later divers opened the rear hatch of the sub but found no survivors.May – Nuclear nations India and Pakistan became involved in a nuclear stand off. The outbreak of war was largely prevented by the common knoweldge a nuclear exchange would kill millions people on both sides. There is no way of knowing how long the doctrine of mutual assured destruction (MAD) will maintain the peace.

October- North Korea admits to having nuclear weapons.

September – Russia begins preparations for a reactor worth $800m near Iran’s south-western port of Bushehr. The plan at this stage is to have the plant up and running by the end of 2003.

December – The US accuses Iran of seeking to develop a secret nuclear weapons programme and publishes satellite images of two nuclear sites under construction at Natanz and Arak.

June – IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei states that inspections showed “Iran failed to report certain nuclear materials and activities” and urges “co-operative actions” on the part of Iran. However the report does not declare Iran in breach of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. EU foreign ministers call on Iran to allow tougher nuclear inspections.September – Washington says Iran is not complying with international non-proliferation accords but agrees to support a proposal from Britain, France and Germany to give the country until the end of October fully to disclose nuclear activities and allow surprise inspections.

October – Russia says it has delayed plans to start up a nuclear reactor in Iran by a year but stresses this is for technical reasons, not because of external political pressure.

October – Pyongyang says it has reprocessed 8,000 nuclear fuel rods, obtaining enough material to make up to six nuclear bombs.

November – Iran says it is suspending uranium enrichment and will allow tougher UN inspections of its nuclear facilities.

June – Third round of six-nation talks on nuclear program ends inconclusively. North Korea pulls out of scheduled September round.

February – Pyongyang says it has built nuclear weapons for self-defense.September – Fourth round of six-nation talks on nuclear program concludes. North Korea agrees to give up its weapons in return for aid and security guarantees. But it later demands a civilian nuclear reactor.

February – The International Atomic Energy Agency votes to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council over concerns that the country is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

February – Iran warns it may reconsider nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty membership.

March – The IAEA discusses Iran’s nuclear program. Iran threatens U.S. with “harm and pain” for its role in bringing the country before the U.N. Security Council.

March – Russia’s foreign minister firmly rejects a draft U.N. Security Council statement aimed at pressuring Iran to stop enriching uranium, despite a new offer of amendments by Western powers.

April – U.S. intelligence experts believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide, the Washington Post reports.

April – Ahmadinejad again lashes out at Israel, saying it was “heading toward annihilation.”

July – North Korea test-fires a long-range missile, and some medium-range ones, to an international outcry. Despite reportedly having the capability to hit the US, the long-range Taepodong-2 crashes shortly after take-off, US officials say.

October – North Korea claims to test a nuclear weapon for the first time.

January – Iran says the U.N. sanctions will not halt its uranium enrichment.

February – Six-nation talks on nuclear program resume in Beijing. North Korea agrees to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid.

April – Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki says Iran won’t accept any suspension of its uranium-enrichment activities and urges world powers to accept the “new reality” of the Islamic republic’s nuclear program.

May – The International Atomic Energy Agency says that Iran continues to defy UN Security Council demands to halt uranium enrichment and has in fact expanded such work. The IAEA adds that the UN nuclear agency’s ability to monitor nuclear activities in Iran has declined due to lack of access to sites. IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei estimates Iran could build a nuclear weapon within “three to eight years”.

June – International inspectors visit the Yongbyon nuclear complex for the first time since being kicked out of the country in 2002.

August –“If Israeli, U.S., or European intelligence gets proof that Iran has succeeded in developing nuclear weapons technology, then Israel will respond in a manner reflecting the existential threat posed by such a weapon,” said Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, speaking at a policy forum in Washington last week. (AP)

December –   The generals in charge of the military operations in India and Pakistan had an “unscheduled” conversation over the Cold-war style hotline that was set up to help avoid an accidental nuclear war.  There has been an increase in tension between the two countries since the November terror attacks on India.

Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (Iran)
Fordow, near the city of  Qom,  is the site of an underground uranium enrichment facility at a former  Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps base.  Existence of the then-unfinished Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant (FFEP) was disclosed to the IAEA by Iran on  September 21, 2009, but only after the site became known to Western intelligence services. Western officials strongly condemned Iran for not disclosing the site earlier; although some reports claim that the site was.under U.S. surveillance.

The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (Iran)
In March 2009, the head of Russia’s state nuclear power corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, announced that Russia had completed the construction of the plant. A series of pre-launch tests were conducted after the announcement. On September 22, 2009, it was reported that the first reactor was 96% complete and final testing would begin in the near future. In early October final testing was started.

Saudi Arabia to Build Its First Nuclear Power Plant
Israeli defense officials said that Riyadh’s interest in nuclear power is connected to Iran’s nuclear program, according to the Jerusalem Post on September 21, 2009.

UN Security Council Resolution
The Resolution 1887, was passed by, the UN Security Council on September 25, 2009 during the first-ever session chaired by a U.S. president.  The resolution says that its main aim is, eventually, “to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.”
Iran Rejects UN-Brokered Deal

Iran said, “No thanks,” on November 18, 2009 to an offer that would have resulted in the shipment of about 70% of its low-enriched uranium stockpile to Russia and France, and delayed Iran’s ability to fuel a nuclear weapon by about a year. Iran has counter-offered, saying it would consider other options in regard to its uranium, as long as the supply remained in the country. Reported by CBN, and the majority of news agencies.

The Year of the Bushehr
On January 10, Iran announced to the public that the Bushher reactor would be opening in the near-future, declaring 2010 the “year of Bushehr” On August 13, 2010 Russia announced that fuel would be loaded into the plant beginning on August 21, which would mark the beginning of the plant being considered an active nuclear facility. Within six months after the fuel loading, the plant was planned to be fully operational.An official launch ceremony was held on August 21, 2010 as Iran began loading the plant with fuel.

Underestimating Iran’s Intentions  (January 2010)
Although they have opposed the project in the past, Western governments now stress that they have no objection to the demonstrably peaceful aspects of Iran’s nuclear program such as Bushehr, according to the BBC. Spokesman of the United States Department of State, Darby Holladay, stated that the United States believes the reactor is designed to produce civilian nuclear power and does not view it as a proliferation risk.

Iran Gets More Boisterous
On  November 27,  2010 the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran declared that “All fuel assemblies have been loaded into the core of the reactor” and they were hoping that the facility “will hook up with the national grid in one or two months.”The plant is to be operated by Russian specialists. Russia also provides the nuclear fuel for the plant, and spent fuel is sent back to Russia. The Bushehr plant will satisfy about 2% of Iran’s projected electricity consumption.

Islamists Rejoice over Iran’s Nuclear Advancements (November  2010) 
The former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence hailed Iran’s launch as a positive move in the Muslim world, and he also said that an anti-Iran campaigns by the US and Israel stems from Iran’s Islamic status. “Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant is a victory for Iran and indicates that Iranians do their best to achieve their peaceful objectives but the US and Israel are not ready to accept this achievement.”

Bushehr Nucleat Power Plant Almost at Full Capacity
Director Fereydoun Abbasi announced on February 15, 2011 that the Bushehr nuclear power plant had reached 75 percent of its power generation capacity. Abbasi was quoted “that hopefully the Bushehr plant will be connected to the national grid at its full capacity in late April.”

North Korea Third Nuke Test
On February, 21 2011 Reuters reported that N. Korea is digging at the site where it has launched two nuclear tests. This undertaking suggests N. Korea  is preparing a third test, the South’s Yonhap news agency said. Tensions rose on the divided peninsula when 46 sailors were killed in an attack in March on a South Korean naval vessel. North Korea, which has denied responsibility, shelled the southern island of Yeonpyeong in November, killing four people and sparking fears of possible all-out war.

Syria WMDs
On May 24, 2011, IAEA Director General Amano released a report which assessed that the  facility destroyed (bombed) by Israel unilaterallyon September 6, 2007, which it believed had hosted a nuclear reactor under construction was indeed a  nuclear reactor.U.S. intelligence officials claimed low confidence that the site was meant for weapons development. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said the site in discussion was just “a military site under construction.”Iran Testing Missiles to Carry Nuclear Weapons
On June 29, 2011  CNN reported that Iran has been carrying out covert tests of missiles capable of delivering a nuclear payload, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday, in contravention of a U.N. resolution.It has also said it wants to enrich uranium to “levels far greater than is needed for peaceful nuclear energy,” Hague said.Iran’s development of missile and nuclear fuel technology has led to U.N. sanctions and accusations from the United States that the clerical regime is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant at Full Capacity
On August 30, 2011 at 18:47 local time the power unit 1 was brought to 100 percent of its power generation capacity.

Fordow Facilty Moves to Clandestine Location
In September 2011, Iran said it would move its production of 20% LEU to Fordow from Natanz. Enrichment started in December 2011. According to the Institute for Science and International Security two possible locations of the facility are suspected.

Official Launch of Bushehr Nuckear Facility
The plant started adding electricity to the national grid on  September 3,  2011, and the official inauguration was held on 12 September. By the inauguration time the plant operated at 40% capacity, while the full projected capacity of the first unit is 1,000 megawatts. Under the terms of Russia–Iran agreement, approved by the International Atomic Energy Agency,  Russia will be responsible for operating the plant, supplying the nuclear fuel and managing the spent fuel for the next two or three years before passing full control to Iran.
Explosion Near Tehran

In late November 2011 top Israeli security official said that a recent explosion that rocked an Iranian missile base near Tehran could delay or stop further Iranian surface-to-surface missile development. Earlier this month, Iran reiterated that the explosion at a military base near Tehran that killed at least 17 members of the Revolutionary Guards was an accident.

North Korea Supplying Syria, Iran
Prohibited Nuclear Technology is being supplied by North Korea to Syria and Iran reported the German newspaper Die Welt reports on November 28, 2011 that Pyongyang has provided the countries with “maraging steel,” used to upgrade missiles and centrifuges. It has been known for years that Iran is trying to obtain the steel through its clandestine purchasing networks around the world. The steel would enable Tehran to construct modified centrifuges, which would in turn allow it to enrich higher quality Uranium at a faster speed.

“Maraging Steel” Supplied by North Korea to Syria
According to the November 28 report by the German newspaper, Die Welt the delivery of the steel is to be used for upgrading Syrian scud missiles. Syria is building a new missile factory near Homs. According to other reports, the factory is partly funded by Iran, and is expected to become operational within 18 months. Maraging steel would significantly upgrade Syria’s Scud missile capabilities and the amount of damage their warheads could inflict.

Syria Supplying Hezbollah with Missiles
The German newspaper, Die Welt cited unnamed “Western security sources,” also reported that Syria is trying to supply Hezbollah with M-600 missiles that have a range of up to 300 kilometers. These would be equipped with warheads that were upgraded using maraging steel. Several UN resolutions forbid North Korea from exporting weapons or weapons technology.

Footage of WMD Stockpiles Uncovered in Libya
On December 14, 2011 MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) brought forth an insightful video out of the Arab world. New footage has emerged out of Libya featuring stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. Stockpiles of mustard gas, nerve gas, as well as plant for their production” in the Al-Rawagha and Sokna regions. New depositories containing internationally prohibited gases were found near the city of Sokna.

Syria  WMDs
On July 23, 2012 Syria admitted to manufacturing and possessing a stockpile of chemical weapons which it claims are reserved for national defense against foreign countries. Western non-governmental organizations have stated they believe Syria has an active chemical weapons program. Syria is one of seven non-signatories to the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, though it denied that it had chemical weapons until admitting it possessed such weapons in 2012.

Iran Uranium Enrichment Capacity Surging
McClatchy-Tribune reported on  August 24, 2012 that Iran has significantly expanded its uranium enrichment capability at its Fordow facility, according to U.S. officials and others briefed on the finding. The move could shorten the time Tehran would need to build a nuclear weapon.
Iran Close to Building A-bomb Like Never Before
On August 30, 2012 UN inspectors reported that Iran had taken new efforts to produce enriched uranium. Iran doubled the number of centrifuges to enrich uranium at Ford underground complex, officials said. In the quarterly report, the IAEA said that Iran had 2,140 centrifuges, and since 2010 Iran had produced nearly 190 kilograms of highly enriched uranium.

Back in May 2012, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani said that Iran would continue to enrich uranium in the quantities sufficient for the Islamic Republic, despite the protests of the international mediators. It appears that the pace of this work has increased. It was particularly reported that IAEA experts discovered uranium enriched to 27 percent at one of Iran’s nuclear facilities, which contradicted to Iran’s official promises not to overcome the enrichment limit of 20 percent.

In July of 2012, according to Interfax, Ayatollah Khamenei said that the level of enrichment of uranium for nuclear reactors would reach 56 percent if the international community continued to put pressure on Iran.

August  2012 data from the IAEA and Israeli military intelligence strongly suggest that Iran, to all appearance, possesses the amount of uranium to make a nuclear bomb. Apparently, this quantity, as well as quality, will grow. Most likely, the country is right now on the verge of developing nuclear weapons.

Decontamination problems persist at Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant.

Tons of contaminated soil is stored temporarily in huge lots. A former worker told reporters, “We’d decontaminate around a house,” he said, “but if it rained, more contaminated earth from outside that perimeter would just pour right in.” Many towns here don’t want it, so the waste,  just like the residents,  sits in limbo. [1]

It seems like an endless process and the likelihood of this problem improving will take a very long time.

[1] http://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/atomicage/2013/10/23/decontamination-problems-persist-at-japans-crippled-nuclear-power-plant-via-cbs-evening-news

Following typhoon, record levels of “high toxic” nuclear material near Fukushima reactor.

Officials: Typhoon caused significant increase in radioactive releases from Fukushima. Record levels of ‘highly toxic” nuclear material found in ground outside reactor. Among the most poisonous substances at plant.

Very high abnormality rates in Fukushima insects eating radiation contaminated leaves.“Groundbreaking” study reveals Fukushima nuclear waste is poisoning wildlife: Up to 99% of offspring died after eating ‘low-level’ contaminated food: “Very high” abnormality rates including “severe and rare” deformities. [1]

[1] Energy News, Oct. 10,  2014

Seventy years ago, following the  Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and  Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August respectively. Japan had already attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

The robots sent into Fukushima have ”died.” The remote-controlled robots that were sent into  the site of the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan have reportedly “died” thanks to incredibly high amounts of leaked radioactive materials destroying their wiring.

The robots, which take years to manufacture were designed to swim through the underwater tunnels of the now-defunct cooling pools, and remove hundreds of extremely dangerous blobs of melted fuel rods. But it looks like that’s not going to happen any time soon.


North Korea’s latest test proves he can hit anywhere in the world. Kim Jong-un’s latest nuclear provocation was an ICBM without a nuclear tip, but it displayed to the world that he has the ability to strike with great precision. N. Korea has Asia and the rest of the world on edge.