When the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan in August 1945, it launched a grand contest between two forces: nations determined to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and those determined to acquire their own. Early hopes of a long-lasting American atomic monopoly were dashed by the Soviet Union’s first atomic test in 1949, followed by Great Britain in 1952, France in 1960, and China in 1964. Three more nations (Israel, India, and South Africa) successfully crossed the nuclear threshold by 1980, and by 1990 Pakistan had joined the nuclear club as well.
Todd S. Sechser
Associate Professor of Politics,
University of Virginia