WASHINGTON – It’s been 74 years since the first nuclear device ever detonated. It was conducted by the United States Army at 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, as part of the Manhattan Project. The code name of the first detonation of a nuclear device was Trinity. The device exploded with an energy equivalent to around 22 kilotons of TNT (92 TJ). The desert sand, largely made of silica, melted and became a mildly radioactive light green glass, which was named trinitite. It left a crater in the desert 5 feet (1.5 m) deep and 30 feet (9.1 m) wide.
At the time of detonation, the surrounding mountains were illuminated “brighter than daytime” for one to two seconds, and the heat was reported as “being as hot as an oven” at the base camp. The observed colors of the illumination changed from purple to green and eventually to white. The roar of the shock wave took 40 seconds to reach the observers. It was felt over 100 miles (160 km) away, and the mushroom cloud reached 7.5 miles (12.1 km) in height.
This was folwed by the first and only use of nuclear weapons in combat. On August 6 and 9, the United States detonated two 16 kt and 21 kt nuclear bombs over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, respectively, with the consent of the United Kingdom, as required by the Quebec Agreement. The two bombings instantly killed 226,000 people, most of whom were civilians. Nagasaki lost 150 soldiers, making it anything but a legitimate military target.
Right after WW2 was over, the Anglo-American Empire wanted to assert their dominance over the world and eliminate all possible opposition. And the USSR was the first target. A dozen of plans were devised. The most prominent plan, dubbed Operation Unthinkable, stated that its primary goal was “to impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire.”
The names given to other plans graphically portray their offensive purpose: Bushwhacker, Broiler, Sizzle, Shakedown, Offtackle, Dropshot, Trojan, Pincher, and Frolic. The 1949 Dropshot plan envisaged that the US would attack Russia and drop at least 300 nuclear bombs and 20,000 tons of conventional bombs on 200 targets in 100 urban areas, including Moscow and St. Petersburg (known as Leningrad at the time).
In addition, the planners also envisaged launching a major land offensive against Russia to win a “complete victory” over the Soviet Union together with the European allies. According to the plan, Washington would start the war on January 1, 1957. However, after correctly assessing a US-led attack is the most likely outcome, Russia soon tested its own nuclear weapon (1949), resulting in all plans being shelved. This came as a shock to the West, which was hoping to assert full dominance over the entire world.
By the 1980s, the Soviet Union had an estimated 45-50 thousand nuclear bombs, each of which was hundreds or thousands of times more powerful than those dropped on Japan. To this very day, the US and NATO have been forced to negotiate with Russia, instead of threatening it with war, because they know that Russia is the only country with the capability to obliterate the US and NATO in around 20-30 minutes. This strategic stalemate is best known as the MAD (mutually assured destruction).
During the Korean War (1950-1953), the United States Air Force dropped more conventional bombs on North Korea than during the entire WW2. Needless to say, this devasted the country. However, this was just the tip of an iceberg of what some of the US planners wanted to do in North Korea. General of the US Army Douglas MacArthur wanted to drop dozens of nuclear bombs on North Korea. And this plan would’ve been set in motion had it not been for the Soviet Union which threatened a likewise reaction to such an attack.
Seeing the destruction brought to them by the US bombing, North Korean leadership decided to ensure such destruction would never happen again. North Korea started a long nuclear weapons R&D program. It lasted for decades and it took a great deal of NK’s GDP, but in the end, the country joined the so-called “nuclear club”. During the 2016-2019 period, North Korea even deployed ICBMs and SLBMs with the capability of hitting targets anywhere in the US. As a result, the US was forced to change its hawkish posture to a more “diplomatic” one.
Due to aggressive US actions against Iran, the country decided it needed its own nuclear weapons. The threat increased over time, as US allies and satellites in the region joined the anti-Iranian choir. In order to stop the Iranian uranium enrichment, in 2015, after lengthy and intense negotiations, Iran promised to stop all of its programs – the JCPOA was born. Despite the US signing the deal, the new US administration decided to pull out of the agreement and restarted the sanctions against Iran. As a result, Iran resumed its uranium enrichment and long-range weapons delivery R&D.
Almost every single nuclear-armed country in the world today (including Russia) decided to go nuclear only after the US threatened their very existence. Due to US’ extremely aggressive stance on just about anyone and anything, we should note this is very likely the sole reason as to why countries decide to develop their own nuclear weapons.