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  Timeline of the Nuclear Age 1950s  1957

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On the Beach by Nevil Shute, which presents a fictional account of the devastating effects of a nuclear war, becomes an international best-seller.

The United States and Iran sign an agreement under the Atoms for Peace program. The United States plans to supply Iran with enriched uranium for civilian purposes.

A U.S. Air Force B-47 bomber, flying from Florida to Europe with two capsules of nuclear materials for bombs, fails to meet its aerial refueling plane. No traces are ever found.

In a radio broadcast entitled Declaration of Conscience, Albert Schweitzer states, "The end of further experiments with atom bombs would be like early sun rays of hope which suffering humanity is longing for."

The United Kingdom tests its first thermonuclear weapon at the Christmas Islands in the Pacific.

The Rome Treaties establish the European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) and the European Economic Community (EEC).

Under the Atoms for Peace program, the United States and South Africa sign a 50-year agreement for nuclear collaboration. South Africa received a nuclear reactor.

The first conference of the Pugwash Movement is held in Pugwash, Nova Scotia to discuss social responsibility and disarmament. Twenty-two scientists from ten countries attend. The stimulus for the gathering is the 1955 Manifesto issued by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein.

The first commercial use of nuclear power occurs when a test reactor in Santa Susana, California transmits power to the Southern Californian grid.

The United Nations establishes the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The first demonstration against nuclear weapon testing involving civil disobedience, takes place at the Nevada Test Site and results in the arrest of eleven protesters.

The Soviet Union announces their first successful launch of an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)

The US sets off its first underground nuclear test in a mountain tunnel in the remote desert 100 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada.

A breakdown in the cooling system of a tank holding 70,000 to 80,000 tons of radioactive sludge, causes an explosion at the Mayak complex in the Soviet Union. A plume of radioactive fallout of over two million curies is released.

Fire breaks out at Britain's Windscale nuclear complex, destroying a reactor core and sending plumes of radioactive material into the atmosphere.

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s first general conference opens in Vienna.

The Soviet Union stuns Americans by launching a missile carrying the earth’s first artificial satellite, Sputnik I. If Soviet scientists can launch a Sputnik, U.S. analysts reason they will soon be able to loft nuclear warheads to the U.S. The implications are profound, decreasing the warning times of a nuclear launch from hours to minutes. There is no known means of defending against a ballistic missile attack.

A fire breaks out in Unit (or "Pile" 1) Great Britain's Windscale reactor in Cumberland. The fire burns for three days and officials are concerned about a wide-scale release of Iodine-131. Cumberland is later renamed Sellafield.

The United Kingdom successfully tests its first hydrogen-fusion weapon.

The Committee for Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) is founded.

In Shippingport, Pennsylvania, the first full-scale commercial nuclear power reactor begins operation.

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