Nuclear Lessons Unlearned

VIENNA – Much of the world marked the 50th anniversary in early August of the Berlin Wall’s construction. But, while that Cold War abomination has truly been consigned to history’s dustbin, September 1 marks another 50th anniversary, one that resonates far more directly today.

As of 1961, some 200 nuclear bombs had been exploded, most of them in the atmosphere, but two on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Three years earlier, in October 1958, nuclear testing had ground to a halt after the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom agreed on a moratorium. During most of this period, one could get the impression, although it was deceptive, that nuclear testing was actually over.