The year begins ominously when the Russian military mistakes a US-Norwegian scientific rocket for a nuclear missile and Russian President Boris Yeltsin must decide whether to launch a nuclear attack on the United States. That incident helps bolster the case made by US hard-liners that a resurgent Russia could be as much a threat as the Soviet Union. Hopes diminish for a large post-Cold War peace dividend, and more than 40,000 nuclear weapons remain worldwide. Concerns arise that terrorists could exploit poorly secured nuclear facilities within the former Soviet Union.
Fourteen years after joining the ranks of countries with nuclear weapons, India carries out a series of nuclear tests that catch US intelligence off guard. The tests provoke worldwide outrage, and tensions heighten when Pakistan holds its own tests only three weeks later. The Bulletin calls the tests “a symptom of the failure of the international community to fully commit itself to control the spread of nuclear weapons.” Russia and the United States continue to serve as poor examples to the rest of the world, with a combined total of more than 7,000 weapons aimed at each other and ready to launch within 15 minutes.
Concerns regarding a nuclear terrorist attack underscore the enormous amount of unsecured — and sometimes unaccounted for — weapon-grade nuclear materials located throughout the world. Meanwhile, the United States expresses a desire to design new nuclear weapons, with an emphasis on those able to destroy hardened and deeply buried targets. It also rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces it will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty
After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States expresses increasing concerns about nuclear weapons falling into the hands of non-state actors. A top concern is the enormous amount of unsecured—and sometimes unaccounted for—weapon-grade nuclear materials throughout the world. The United States expresses a desire to design new nuclear weapons, especially ones that can destroy hardened and deeply buried targets. It also rejects a series of arms control treaties and announces that it will withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that it had signed with the Soviet Union in 1972.
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