Nuclear Testing – Behind the News

Nuclear Testing – Behind the News


JACK: On July 16, 1945,
this explosion was filmed in the desert of New Mexico
in the US. It was the first-ever nuclear test
and it changed the world forever. For years, scientists had been
studying the energy within atoms, which are the tiny building blocks
of everything. And in the 1930s, they realised that if you split
the right kind of atom, you could create a chain reaction and release a huge amount of energy in a process called nuclear fission. Then, World War II started. And so did the race to turn fission
into a super weapon. NEWSREADER: This is the gallant crew
that rode the big superfort which carried the first atomic bomb
to Japan. The US and its allies got their first and the world saw the devastating
power of nuclear weapons. NEWSREADER: The bomb has dropped. 90% of the city of Hiroshima
was destroyed and tens of thousands of people died. Three days later,
another nuclear weapon was dropped on nearby Nagasaki. Japan surrendered and World War II
soon came to an end. Many were horrified
by what happened in Japan, including scientists
who helped to build the bomb. Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds. NEWSREADER: First you duck
and then you cover. While the war was over, the fear
of nuclear weapons remained. Countries around the world worked
on building their own bombs and testing them. Most of the tests were carried out
by the US and the Soviet Union, a group of states
that included Russia. But there were also tests
here in Australia. The United Kingdom tested
12 bombs at three sites – the Montebello Islands,
Emu Field and at Maralinga. At the time,
many people didn’t realise that even nuclear tests could have
a devastating effect. Radioactive particles,
called fallout, could poison the surrounding environment and cause
long-term health problems in people who were exposed to it. MAN: We all got sick. Diarrhoea, vomiting and sore eyes. I couldn’t open my eyes,
it was that sore. What happened here happened
in other places too, like in the Pacific, where more
than 300 weapons were tested by the US, France and the UK. There were accidents where people
were exposed to fallout and the environment was poisoned. As time went on, more people
spoke out against nuclear tests and they became less common. In 1995, a French test in the Pacific
caused huge protests and the next year, many countries
signed an agreement to ban nuclear tests altogether. Now they’re really rare. Many countries have worked to reduce
the number of nuclear weapons in the world, but there is still
a lot out there. And that’s why ten years ago,
the UN set aside August 29th as the International Day
Against Nuclear Weapons Testing, to make sure we never forget
the incredible, destructive power of these super weapons.

Leave a Response

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

6 thoughts on “Nuclear Testing – Behind the News”