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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1970s

Year: 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979

The 1970s began with the opening of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in April 1970. In May the U.S. bombing of Cambodia led to widespread protests on college campuses. National Guardsmen killed four students during a protest at Kent State University in Ohio on May 4. Ten days later two more students at Jackson State University in Mississippi were killed.

The U.S. increased the pace of the nuclear arms race in 1970 with the deployment of Minuteman III, the first missiles with multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), which made it possible to target many cities with nuclear weapons from a single missile. In April 1971 one million people rallied in Washington, D.C. against the Vietnam War. In the area of arms control, the U.S. and Soviet Union agreed not to place nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction on the ocean floor. In September 1971 the two countries also agreed to improve the Hot Line between them.

Nationalist China was expelled from the United Nations in October 1971, and the People's Republic of China was seated. Willy Brandt, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1971 for his policy of "Ostpolitik."

Between 1971 and 1974, a group of 15 States hold a series of informal meetings in Vienna chaired by Professor Claude Zangger of Switzerland. In 1972, the Zangger Committee reaches consensus on guidelines, which define and provide for procedures for the export of nuclear materials and equipment.

In 1972 the SALT I accords were signed, placing limits on the number of offensive armaments which each side could possess. The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, designed to halt a defensive nuclear arms race, was also signed. The U.S. and Soviet Union entered into an agreement on the Prevention of Nuclear War in June 1973, agreeing to "remove the danger of nuclear war and the use of nuclear weapons." Should the risk of nuclear war arise, the nations promised to enter into "urgent consultations."

In 1974 U.S. Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger announced a doctrine of "limited strike options," in which a wide range of deterrence options would be available before resorting to massive retaliation. As a result of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency under threat of impeachment, andGerald Ford became President.

The Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975, after ten years of fighting and two million deaths. Cooperation between U.S. and Soviet space programs led to a successful docking in orbit of U.S. Apollo and U.S.S.R. Soyez satellites in July 1975. On August 1, 1975, the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe was adopted in Helsinki by 33 European nations, the U.S. and Canada. Andrei Sakharov, the Soviet physicist and human rights activist, received the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the later part of the 1970s, the UN General Assembly held its first Special Session on Disarmament. Its final document, issued on June 30, 1978, stated that "removing the threat of a world war -- a nuclear war -- is the most acute and urgent task of the present day." In June 1978 the U.S. and Soviet Union signed the SALT II Treaty restricting, but not reducing, the number of strategic offensive weapons each side could possess. There was still force in the superpower arsenals to destroy all major cities in the world many times over.

In March, 1979 an accident at theThree Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, resulted in a partial core meltdown. Mother Teresa of Calcutta received the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.

The 1970s ended with nearly three million persons dying in wars, two-thirds civilians.

Year: 1970 | 1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979