Cold War: A Brief History

Chinese Nuclear Weapons

In 1951, China signed a secret agreement with Moscow through which China provided uranium ores in exchange for Soviet assistance in nuclear technology. China began developing nuclear weapons in the late 1950s with substantial Soviet assistance.

When Sino-Soviet relations cooled in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Soviet Union withheld plans and data for an atomic bomb, and began the withdrawal of Soviet advisers. Despite the termination of Soviet assistance, China committed itself to continue nuclear-weapons development.

China made remarkable progress in the 1960s in developing nuclear weapons. The first Chinese nuclear test was conducted at Lop Nur on October 16, 1964. It was a tower shot involving a fission device with a yield of 25 kilotons. Uranium 235 was used as the nuclear fuel. In less than 32 months, China detonated its first hydrogen bomb on June 14, 1967.

Chinese Hydrogen Bomb Nuclear Test

China's first hydrogen bomb test

Although the Cultural Revolution disrupted the strategic weapons program less than other scientific and educational sectors in China, there was a slowdown in succeeding years.

There is considerable uncertainly in published estimates of the size of the Chinese nuclear-weapons stockpile. Although these weapons are not a direct threat to the United States, they still pose a major threat to world security. China is also suspected in aiding the Pakistani nuclear program.

In 1996, China did sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

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