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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1980s  1980


In this year, the Reagan Administration approves the sale of sophisticated computers to South Africa that allow for deployment and usage of nuclear weapons. 

The Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials is signed in New York. The Convention stipulates levels of protection during the shipment of nuclear materials. It also establishes a general framework for cooperation among states in the recovery and return of stolen nuclear material and defines certain serious offenses involving nuclear material, which states are to make punishable.

The Brazilian-Argentine Agreement on the Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy establishes technical cooperation and coordination of nuclear policy.

President Jimmy Carter signs Presidential Directive 59, which calls for flexible, controlled retaliation against political and military targets in the event of a prolonged nuclear war.

A technician causes an explosion in the silo of a Titan II Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile by dropping a wrench and breaking a fuel tank. The explosion blows off the 740 ton silo cover and sends the re-entry vehicle with its 9 megaton warhead 600 feet in the air. The accident kills one man and injures twenty-one others.

An Iranian F-4 fighter aircraft bombs Iraq's Osirak nuclear research center.

China conducts the last known nuclear weapon test in the atmosphere. The last French atmospheric test was in 1974. These two countries did not adhere to the Partial Test Ban Treaty, signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1963.

The Manchester City Council passes a resolution that makes Manchester the first nuclear-free zone in the United Kingdom.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (also known as Superfund) is passed in the U.S., responding to the discovery in the late 1970s of a large number of abandoned, leaking hazardous waste dumps. Under Superfund, the Environmental Protection Agency identifies hazardous sites, takes appropriate action, and sees that the responsible party pays for cleanup.