In Ancient Greece, some sages believed that history is cyclical. That the great events are repeated over and over again. With different protagonists, names and places. It is not surprising that something similar happens with fashions, consumption habits or with certain topics that are back on the cover the media over and over again. The nuclear bomb either atomic bombs and its feared nuclear explosions are one of those big issues that have always been on the political agenda.
Actually, the nuclear bomb has always been there since its invention in 1945. Since years ago, in 1938, a way to create this type of weapon began to be glimpsed, started a race between world powers to be the first to get the ultimate weapon. The one that would end all wars. But it would not be so. As different countries obtained the nuclear bomb, tensions between them continued. Obviously, no one would think of using it for the damage that would be done to the enemy but also to oneself.
But nuclear weapons have been used as deterrent tool or to influence specific moments of tension or border conflicts. Luckily we have international deals to prevent the development and use of atomic weapons. But those treaties say nothing about threaten to do something while warlike conflicts with more traditional weapons take place. or of conduct military exercises to test that weaponry in case of future need. The question is, how many times has the human being used nuclear bombs?
the first nuclear bomb
Technically, the first nuclear explosion occurred on July 16, 1945. The code name for that detonation was Trinity. And the name of the detonated weapon, an atomic bomb or nuclear bomb based on plutonium, was simply “the gadget”, which we could translate as artifact, device or contraption. The explosion occurred near Alamogordo, in New Mexico. And it was the most profitable result to date of the top-secret manhattan project.
Started in 1942, the manhattan project It was intended to develop nuclear bombs. Much has been written and spoken about it. The project was directed by the United States although it had the collaboration of the United Kingdom and Canada. And those directly responsible for the project were Major Leslie Groves United States Army Corps of Engineers and nuclear physicist robert oppenheimer. Of whom Christopher Nolan is shooting a biography.
Without going too far, the project came to have more than 130,000 people, among scientists, military, family members and other professional profiles. They even came arrecruit German experts As the Allied countries defeated Nazi Germany during the Second World War. And the estimated budget for such a military feat was more than 2,000 million dollars USES. In Wikipediait is estimated that the current equivalent would rise to 23,000 million.
Nuclear explosions in Japan
USA He managed to be the first great power to possess the atomic bomb. Russia then USSR, it would take four more years to announce that it also had nuclear warheads. And yet, the first nuclear explosions over civilian areas would occur just weeks after the first test explosion, Trinity.
After the war in Europe and the fall of Nazi Germany, the United States was focused on its other enemy, Japan. This conflict had started at the end of 1941 and was still going on despite the surrender of the fascist italy and of the Hitler’s Germany. As a measure of pressure, and with little information about the consequences, the United States dropped two nuclear bombs on the Japanese cities of hiroshima Y nagasaki.
Interestingly, the one who made the decision was Harry S Trumanthen President of the United States and who had been Vice President until a few months ago during the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt. The death of Roosevelt forced Truman to preside over the United States in a war context and, according to him, without information about the manhattan project. But once he found out about it and after Japan refused to surrender under the conditions of the Potsdam Declarationsigned by the United States, the United Kingdom and China, Truman authorized the use of the atomic bomb against Japan.
Thus, history has remembered for more than seven decades, and will continue to remembering, the launching of two atomic bombs on the civilian population. The August 6, 1945 on hiroshima. The name of the bomb was little boy and used uranium 235. Its destruction power was 15 kilotons. And three days later, the August 9, 1945on nagasaki the bomb dropped fat manwhich used plutonium 239 and had a destructive power of 21 kilotons.
According to data from the United Nations, “the two atomic weapons, the only ones used to date, left more than 200,000 dead due to radiation and, in later decades, added 400,000 more deaths for health problems related to the bombs, according to UN data.” Precisely, one of the reasons why the obsolete Society of nations would become the United Nations It was precisely to avoid situations similar to the destruction committed by the two nuclear explosions experienced that August of 1945.
On that occasion they could not do anything. But since then they proposed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the Nuclear Test Ban Partial Treaty (TPPE) and finally the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CEPT). Nevertheless, nuclear arsenals continue to exist.
Cold War and the race for the nuclear bomb
As we saw in a previous article, since USA was made with the atomic bomb, other countries have struggled to get hold of this technology. Russiathen USSR, because he saw in the United States an enemy power. And in 1949 he took her. United Kingdom, in 1952, he joined the club. Y France in 1960. Then they would come China (1964), India (1974), Pakistan (1998), and North Korea (2006). And along the way Israel it has managed to develop, unofficially, its own nuclear weapons program.
in his day, South Africa had in its power nuclear weapons (70s of the last century), and currently, countries like Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands Y Turkey They have this technology, guarded by the United States, as NATO member countries. During the Cold War, Ukraine it had a significant nuclear arsenal as a member of the USSR. Arsenal that returned to Russia after its independence. And, on the other hand, the United States and Israel have always denounced the attempt to Iran to create his own atomic bomb. Something that for the moment has not materialized.
In short, only two nuclear bombs have been dropped on the civilian population. But for the aforementioned countries to achieve their atomic bomb, it is estimated that they have dropped more than 2,000 tests of nuclear explosions with atomic bombs and other nuclear devices or weapons. Approximately we know that they have detonated almost 2,500 nuclear bombs or atomic charged devices. Top the list USA with more than 1,000 tests. they follow the USSR with more than 700 and, in third place, Francewith more than 200 tests. United Kingdom has to its credit more than 80 verified tests and China almost 50. Less information is available for the rest of the countries.
And the most striking case is that of Israel. Although the other powers know that it has nuclear weapons, officially it is not. And it is that if so, the United States would be forced to apply sanctions in accordance with the treaties signed under the protection of United Nations.
Controversial tests with nuclear explosions
The most recent tests with nuclear weapons are from 2017. They were carried out North Korea as measures of pressure before USA. The enmity between the two countries comes from the Korean war (1950-1953) that caused the division of Korea into two countries. The first, a communist dictatorship that lasts until today and that has been directed by three generations of the same family (Kim Il-sung until 1994, his son Kim Jong-Il until 2011 and his son, Kim Jong-un since then). and the second one South Korea which has lived through an authoritarian stage with elections but with persecution of opponents, two coups (1961 and 1980) that led to dictatorships. And, since 1987, a democratic period that continues to this day.
Another of the countries that has carried out the most nuclear tests in recent decades is France. Between 1966 and 1996 he carried out 167 nuclear explosions at his Pacific Experimentation Center, located in mururoaan atoll in the archipelago of tuamotuin French Polynesia. As a consequence of these tests, 41 of them with explosions in the air, caused a great impact on the fauna of the area and also on dozens of Tahitian workers and employees. And even though the international Court of Justice The Hague condemned the first tests carried out in the 1960s, they continued to be carried out until 1996. Then, France signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.