Convinced that the H-bomb was a genocidal device that would cause excessive destruction, Oppenheimer believed an international agency should regulate nuclear weapons. He argued that the United States could secure its defense with a stockpile of atomic arms. However, at the height of the Cold War, defense hawks and anti-Communists saw Oppenheimer’s view as unpatriotic. Edward Teller and Lewis Strauss, two advocates for the hydrogen bomb, contributed to Oppenheimer’s humiliation in hearings that stripped him of his security clearance forever. The US-Soviet arms race would escalate for years.
Today, the world is attempting to control nuclear proliferation through diplomacy and treaties. In 1996, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty prohibited nations from using bombs for either military or research purposes. Forty-one states with nuclear capabilities have signed the treaty, but it cannot take effect until three more nations join. India, Pakistan, and North Korea are among the countries that have refused. Although the United States has signed the treaty, it has not ratified it yet.
As new nuclear states threaten to emerge and the international community strives to prevent proliferation, uncertainty and fear grow. Will terrorists obtain nuclear materials? Will nations be able to agree to contain weapons of mass destruction, or will a coming confrontation go nuclear?
General Douglas MacArthur led American troops in World Wars I and II before being fired by President Harry Truman during the Korean War.
The women's suffrage movement won the right to vote when the 19th Amendment passed in 1920.
Ten years after American troops arrived in South Vietnam, communists seized Saigon in an attack that brought the war to a startling conclusion.
Brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright built a flying machine that made its first flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in 1903.
Robert Moses fueled some of the most ambitious -- and controversial -- public works projects ever conceived.
The U.S. government's response to the Holocaust was slow and fueled by complex social and political factors.
After 18 years of struggles, the Golden Gate Bridge opened on May 27, 1937.
The black residents of Tulsa relive their community's remarkable rise and tragic decline.