National Geographic : 2008 Oct
GEOGRAPHY Atomic Age Since 1945 more nations have opted out of the nuclear arms race than have joined it. But with nuclear technology becoming more widely dispersed, this map remains a work in progress. SWEDEN FORMER I YUGOSLAVIA BELA A U.K. FRANCE 1 SWITZERLAND ROMANIA I A UKRAINE I * LIBYA ATLANTIC IRAQ OCEAN EGYPT ISRAEL PAl EQUATOR PACIFIC OCEAN 0mi 3,000 0km 3,000 SCALEATEQUATOR N. KOREA S. KOREA -T A IWAN PACIFIC OCEAN INDIAN OCEAN * SOUTH AFRICA Status of nuclear arms programs Possesses Suspected Abandoned * Detonation site Since the first atomic mushroom cloud spread its ominous shadow over a New Mexico desert in 1945, nations have hotly debated and heavily negotiated nuclear weapons testing. Yet several key factors-the end of the Cold War, the relative success of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (signed by 178 nations to date), advances such as computer models that allow detonation-free tests seemed to push such trials to the brink of extinction. But all is not quiet on the atomic front. The lack of live tests today belies worrisome trends. Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn, a leading nonproliferation expert, says the spread of nuclear know-how and material-combined with the rise of rogue states and terrorist groups, as well as a wave of nations pursuing nuclear energy programs, which could jump-start weapons production-is moving the world toward a dangerous tipping point. "We are in a race be tween cooperation and catastrophe," says Nunn. "And the threats are outrunning the response." - Peter Gwin BOOM CENTURY Over 63 years, a total of 2,065 verified nuclear detonations have occurred-two in wartime, the rest as tests on land, in the air, and underwater. 1,056 715 198 45 45 2 2 1 1 U.S . U.S.S .R . France U.K. China India Pakistan N. Korea Unknown MAP:JEROMECOOKSON,NG STAFFMAPSOURCES:NUCLEARTESTDATABASE,GEOSCIENCEAUSTRALIA; INSTITUTEFORSCIENCEAND INTERNATIONALSECURITYPHOTO:LA PHOTOTHEQUESGM/DIGITALRAILROAD A test detonation occurs in French Polynesia in 1968.