Special Report

15 Historic Nuclear Tests Since 1950

Over 75 years ago, the U.S. conducted the first ever nuclear weapons test. Ever since, nations have raced to design and develop these incredibly powerful bombs. While these are impressive scientific feats, they have also created an incredibly dangerous and complex geo-political situation. (These are the countries that control the world’s nuclear weapons.)

Eight different countries have carried out just over 2,000 nuclear tests throughout history. While each of these tests was a significant moment in human history, a handful stand out as especially impactful. Some represented enormous leaps forward in scientific capabilities, while others demonstrated that more countries were capable of creating nuclear weapons.

To compile a list of milestone nuclear weapons tests, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the histories of nuclear weapons development from sources such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, the Atomic Archive, the Nuclear Weapon Archive, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Countries have tested nuclear weapons underground and underwater. They have dropped bombs from planes and from space. These weapons have used different detonation processes, though all successful tests resulted in blasts with the equivalent power of anywhere from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of tons of TNT. These are the most powerful nuclear weapons ever built.

The bulk of nuclear weapons testing came during the Cold War, primarily the 1960s and 1970s. Testing all but stopped by the end of the 1990s following a series of moratoria from nuclear nations, but North Korea has carried out several tests in recent decades, making it the only country to try out nuclear weapons in the 21st century.

Click here to see 15 historic nuclear tests since 1950

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