Canada's Role
in the Atomic Bomb Programs
of the United States, Britain, France and India

~ A Chronology ~

by Gordon Edwards, Ph.D.

Christmas 1938:

In Berlin, Hahn and Strassman discover that the nucleus of a uranium atom can be ''split'' or ''fissioned'' by bombarding it with neutrons.

January 1939:

Lise Meitner, a German emigrée, working with Neils Bohr in Norway, provides the theoretical framework for understanding how nuclear fission occurs.

February 1939:

A group of scientists in Paris -- Fréderic Joliot, Hans van Halban, Lew Kowarski and Francis Perrin -- show that when a uranium nucleus fissions, two or three extra neutrons are also given off. This important observation suggests that a self-sustaining chain reaction might be possible.

It is immediately apparent to scientists everywhere that, in principle, an extremely powerful explosive could be created -- an ''atomic bomb'' -- but for years, many scientists continue to think of it as a practical impossibility.

May 1939:

Francis Perrin of the Paris Group (mentioned above) defines a ''critical mass'' of uranium to be the smallest amount needed to sustain a chain reaction.

The Paris Group recognizes that natural uranium cannot sustain a chain reaction without a ''moderator'' -- something to slow down the fast-moving neutrons given off by the fissioning uranium atoms, so that more fissions can take place more easily.

(This is due to the presence of uranium-238, which does not fission as readily as uranium-235; in fact uranium-238 atoms actually absorb many neutrons that would have helped to keep the fissioning of uranium-235 atoms going.)

January - April 1940 : FRANCE

Early in 1940 the Paris group decides on theoretical grounds that ''heavy water'' would be an ideal moderator. They ask the French Minister of Armaments to obtain as much heavy water as possible. The only place it is being made is at a large hydroelectric station in Norway.

The French discover that the Germans have already offered to purchase the entire stock of Norwegian heavy water -- a frightening indication that Germany too might be pursuing research on an atomic bomb.

Once the Norwegian Government learns of the possible military significance of heavy water, they entrust it all to a French Secret Service man who smuggles it into France via England just before Germany invades Norway in April 1940.

A   bomb-proof shelter   is built near Paris to house the precious liquid.

January-April 1940 : BRITAIN

Unlike the French, the British focus on the possibility of an atomic bomb using fast (unmoderated) neutrons. After a brief flirtation with the idea, they conclude that an atomic bomb using uranium is impossible with fast neutrons, because too many neutrons get lost or captured by the uranium-238 atoms.

Then in March, 1940, Otto Frisch and Fritz Peierls -- two refugee German scientists living in England -- hit upon a startling new idea. On three typewritten pages, they outline how an atomic bomb can be built and detonated using only a few kilograms of uranium-235, the lighter isotope of uranium, fissioned wholly by fast neutrons.

Frisch and Peierls observe that if uranium-235 is completely separated from uranium-238, there is no need to slow the neutrons down. No moderator is required.

In the same three-page paper, they warn

In April 1940, the British government sets up a top-secret Committee of Experts (later known as the M.A.U.D. Committee) to investigate the feasibility of an atomic bomb.

May 1940:

James Chadwick (the renowned British scientist who discovered the neutron) is asked by the Government of the U.K. to verify, in utmost secrecy, whether the Frisch/Peierls concept for an atomic bomb will work.

Germany invades France through Belgium. The heavy water inventory and the Paris Group are shipped to Britain.

Summer 1940:

Several research teams swing into action at four British universities with one mission : to explore the idea of an atomic bomb using uranium-235.

The heavy water team from France is invited to continue its slow neutron research at Cambridge; but the project is given a low priority since it is not expected to produce a bomb.

The most formidable task facing the M.A.U.D. Committee is to figure out how to ''enrich'' uranium -- that is, how to produce a high concentration of uranium-235 -- by separating out the unwanted uranium-238. This is not at all an easy task, since the two types of uranium are chemically identical.

Using uranium metal supplied by McGill University, a highly corrosive compound called ''uranium hexafluoride'' is produced, which turns into a gas when heated. As this gas diffuses through a very fine membrane, the lighter atoms (uranium-235) pass through somewhat more easily than the heavier ones (uranium-238).

Multiplied tens of thousands of times over, this process can be used to gradually increase the concentration of uranium-235. But it is a slow, expensive, technologically sophisticated method, requiring huge energy inputs and a very large physical plant.

Thus the concept of uranium enrichment through gaseous diffusion is born -- the technology that is later to produce the explosive material used in the Hiroshima bomb.

August 1940:

A delegation (the Tizard Mission) is sent to North America to explore the possibility of relocating the British military nuclear research facilities across the Atlantic ocean, out of reach of the German Luftwaffe.

The British delegation visits, among others, Enrico Fermi, then at Columbia University; he is pursuing slow neutron research rather similar to that of the Paris group, but using very pure graphite as a moderator. They tell Fermi of the Frisch/Peierls concept for an atomic bomb. He is highly skeptical. His research is geared towards nuclear boilers, not atomic bombs.

In Ottawa, the delegation meets George Laurence, then on staff at the Canadian National Research Council, who secretly built his own slow neutron experiment in a room on Sussex Drive, using graphite as a moderator. (Laurence had anticipated Fermi's work by several months.)

Back in Britain, the British delegation reports that the slow neutron researches being conducted in Cambridge (by the Paris Group), Columbia (by Fermi) and Canada (by Laurence), are probably irrelevant to the war effort. But since nuclear boilers could have some post-war value, they arrange that a small financial donation be sent to support the Canadian fission experiments. Also, George Laurence becomes a party to some of the secret exchanges of sensitive nuclear information between the British and the Americans.

November 1940:

Two British researchers -- Feather and Bretscher -- discover an unexpected link between nuclear boilers and atomic bombs.

When a uranium-238 atom captures a neutron, it is changed (''transmuted'') into plutonium-239: a new, man-made element, never before seen. On purely theoretical grounds, the two men predict that plutonium-239 can be used as a nuclear explosive. Since plutonium has different chemical properties than uranium, it should be much easier to get pure plutonium than it is to get pure uranium-235. Uranium enrichment would not be required; a fairly straightforward chemical process would do the trick.

It is immediately obvious to Feather and Bretscher that any nuclear boiler fueled with uranium will produce substantial amounts of plutonium-239 as a by-product. However, since no one has yet achieved a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, no one has yet seen any plutonium. Since their abstract predictions about plutonium-239 cannot be tested in the real world, their idea of a plutonium bomb is not taken seriously.

December 1940:

The M.A.U.D. Committee receives cost estimates and technical specifications for a large uranium enrichment plant.

James Chadwick later writes that at that point in time he ''realised that a nuclear bomb was not only possible -- it was inevitable. I had then to start taking sleeping pills. It was the only remedy.''

March 1941:

Unbeknownst to the British, American physicist Glen Seaborg shows that plutonium-239 fissions even more readily than uranium-235 -- and with fast neutrons as well as slow ones.

(Tiny amounts of plutonium-239 are produced for this purpose in the brand-new California cyclotron, the world's first ''particle accelerator''.)

May 1941:

Americans order 8 tons of uranium from Eldorado, a private radium-mining company headquartered in Port Hope, Ontario. The purpose of this uranium is to demonstrate the nuclear boiler concept.

(The uranium at Port Hope was discarded as an unwanted byproduct from processing radium ore. The ore in question was unusually high in radioactivity. It was mined at Port Radium, on the eastern shore of Great Bear Lake in the Northwest Territories. The ore -- and later, the mill concentrates -- were carried in cloth sacks by First Nations people without benefit of protective clothing. These nomadic people -- the Sahtu Dene -- had lived for thousands of years all around the shores of Great Bear Lake. The community is now settled in a village called Deline -- formerly Fort Franklin -- located on the western shore of Great Bear Lake.)

Summer 1941:

The M.A.U.D. Committee makes its report to the British government. There are three conclusions.

  1. the Frisch-Peierls scheme for producing a uranium bomb is feasible;

  2. work towards building such a bomb should receive highest priority;

  3. close cooperation with America is of the utmost importance.

The plutonium option receives barely a mention in the M.A.U.D. Report.

Autumn 1941:

By the fall, Churchill gives the atomic bomb project his stamp of approval. ''Although personally I am quite content with the existing explosives,'' he writes to his military advisers, ''I feel we must not stand in the way of improvement.''

The British, in secrecy, order two tons of uranium from Eldorado.

October 1941:

Americans receive a copy of the M.A.U.D. Report and are deeply impressed. Overnight they change their minds about the feasibility of an atomic bomb. They suggest a cooperative effort with Britain. Britain plays coy. The moment passes without any action being taken.

November 1941:

One week before Pearl Harbour, President Roosevelt commits the USA to an all-out unilateral effort to build atomic bombs. The Americans elect to pursue both the uranium option (using enrichment) and the plutonium option (using nuclear boilers).

February 1942:

The Americans order 60 tons of refined uranium oxide from Eldorado. This justifies re-starting the Port Hope refinery and re-opening the Port Radium Mine on Great Bear Lake

March 1942:

Gilbert Labine, the director and major shareholder of Eldorado, asks C.D. Howe, Canadian Minister of Munitions and Supply, for permission to reopen the Eldorado mine. The Minister's approval is needed, since fuel, aviation and manpower are all controlled during wartime.

When Howe learns that the Americans are working on some new kind of explosive, he gives Labine all the necessary priorities to obtain equipment and supplies. Operating in total secrecy, as required by both governments, Labine gathers men and materials needed to produce uranium for bombs.

May 1942:

A British delegation comes to America and is astounded at the momentum that the atomic bomb project has now assumed.

It is clear that the Americans will soon outstrip the British in gaseous diffusion, nuclear boilers, and bomb design. Fermi is now at Chicago, building a pilot plant for a large graphite moderated uranium boiler to mass-produce plutonium. Seaborg and others from California have also gravitated to Chicago to investigate the complicated chemical properties of plutonium.

Slow neutron research, which the British have put on a back burner (by more-or-less ignoring the heavy water team at Cambridge), has suddenly acquired military significance. It now seems imperative that the heavy water team be relocated in Chicago, where all the action is.

But the Americans have now become very security-conscious. They are in no mood to trust their atomic secrets to non-British foreigners (of the six senior scientists in the heavy water group -- the off-shoot of the Paris Group -- only one is British).

Sensing the Americans' edginess, the British decide to back off. Earlier, the M.A.U.D. Committee had suggested sending the heavy water team to Canada. It now seems an excellent compromise: the fission scientists will be close to Chicago, yet still in the British Commonwealth, and still safe from German bombs.

June 1942:

Prime Minister Mackenzie King receives a delegation from Britain. They tell the Prime Minister about Britain's top-secret military project, code-named ''Tube Alloys'', for building the world's first atomic bombs.

They impress upon King the strategic importance of uranium, which can be used to produce an incredible explosive -- one so powerful that any country possessing it will win the war.

King is deeply impressed. The British point out to him that a privately-owned Canadian company has a mine in the Northwest Territories which is rich in uranium. They (the British) want to establish control over that uranium.

The Prime Minister entrusts the matter to C. D. Howe and to C. J. Mackenzie, President of the NRC. Due to his familiarity with Laurence's NRC experiments, Mackenzie is in a position to corroborate the British claims and to support their request.

Howe promises the British his complete cooperation. He proposes to recruit Gilbert Labine to buy up shares in Eldorado on behalf of the Canadian government. Once a controlling interest is acquired, ownership can be split three ways, with Canada a junior partner to the US and the UK.

July 1942:

Unbeknownst to King, Howe or Mackenzie, the Americans order another 350 tons of uranium from Eldorado, in addition to the 60 tons already promised.

August 1942:

Malcolm Macdonald, the British High Commissioner in Ottawa, pays a visit to C. J. Mackenzie on August 17. He proposes moving the entire heavy water group from Cambridge to Canada, creating a French-British-Canadian nuclear research team in the process. Mackenzie is very excited by such a prospect.

He personally escorts the High Commissioner to C.D. Howe's office. After listening carefully to the proposal, Howe turns to Mackenzie and says, ''What do you think?'' Mackenzie says that it is a good idea. Howe nods his head a couple of times, and says, ''Fine. Go to it.''

Autumn 1942:

Over the next few months, all the necessary arrangements are made.

The British will pay the salaries of the people they are sending over. The Canadians will pay for everything else.

In scientific matters, Halban (a member of the original Paris Group) will run the show; administratively, Mackenzie will be in charge, acting for the NRC; policy will be set by Howe and the British High Commissioner.

Although the NRC is Ottawa-based, it is decided to house the nuclear research team in Montreal, where lab space and accommodations are easier to obtain. A portion of the Medical Wing of the Université de Montreal, on the slopes of Mount Royal, is leased and refurbished for this purpose.

The heavy water team starts arriving in late November and early December, months before the labs are ready. Temporary space is provided in an old mansion on Simpson street in downtown Montreal.

December 1942:

The U.S. Army orders another 500 tons of Canadian uranium from Eldorado, even though delivery of the earlier 350-ton order is far from completed.

Eldorado is told to interrupt all deliveries of Canadian uranium in order to refine 1200 tons of rich uranium concentrates from the Congo; the material is discovered in a warehouse on Staten Island, where it was stored in 1939.

The world's first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction is achieved, under the direction of Enrico Fermi, in a squash court under the University of Chicago's football stadium, using natural uranium from Great Bear Lake as fuel and exceptionally pure graphite as a moderator.

January 1943:

On January 2, Mackenzie receives a blunt letter from the Americans, followed by a memorandum ten days later, representing a surprisingly harsh turnabout on the part of the Americans. It puts the Montreal effort on ice just as it is getting started. (The heavy water team is depending on the Americans for additional supplies of heavy water from the US heavy water plant in Trail, British Columbia, as well as technical information about plutonium.)

The first shock: the Americans are embarking on an intensive effort to produce plutonium using heavy water, and the du Pont Company has already been contracted to do the necessary engineering work.

The second shock: for security reasons, the Americans will no longer share any information on heavy water production, the manufacture of uranium hexafluoride, the method of electromagnetic separation, the physical or chemical properties of plutonium, the details of bomb design, or the facts about fast neutron reactions.

The third shock: additional heavy water will be given to the Montreal group only if it agrees to direct its research along lines suggested by du Pont.

The letter ends by saying that the assistance of the Montreal group will be greatly appreciated ''in what is, after all, a joint aim -- namely, the production of a weapon to be used against our common enemy in the shortest possible time under conditions of maximum security.''

This blunt communication reflects the fact that the U.S. Army has taken over the atomic bomb project in the person of General Leslie Groves. He regards the Montreal group, in which so many different nationalities are represented, as a serious security risk.

Spring 1943:

Despite the American policy of non-cooperation, important work is done at the Montreal Lab. Neutron measurements involving heavy water and graphite (obtained from Ontario) are carried out. The engineers and physicists develop a number of design concepts for a nuclear boiler utilizing a heavy water moderator.

In February, Bertrand Goldschmidt (later a key player in developing the French nuclear weapons program, plutonium industry, and nuclear power industry) visits Chicago, and brings back with him to Montreal a sample of fission products. (Apparently the Chicago scientists don't yet know about the new restrictions.)

From this sample, the Montreal radiochemists separate out three micrograms of plutonium. Further experiments are then done to evaluate different methods of separating plutonium from uranium.

May 1943:

The British discover that the U.S. has completely tied up Eldorado's mining and refining capacity for years to come, despite Howe's assurances that the British would have joint control over Canadian uranium resources. In Washington, Churchill bitterly remarks to Mackenzie King that Howe has ''sold the British Empire down the river.''

June, 1943:

Work at the Montreal Lab is at a complete standstill. Morale is low. The Canadians are tempted to call the whole thing off.

July 1943:

General Groves visits Canada. Mackenzie tells him that heavy water is the best choice for producing plutonium, and therefore the Montreal project should be given a high priority. Groves concurs in principle, but has many reservations.

At about the same time, in London, senior American officials are engaged in frank discussions with the British. Some major misunderstandings about British motives are cleared up. Churchill drafts a series of propositions on nuclear cooperation which the Americans promise to relay to the President.

August 1943:

The Quebec Agreement is signed by Roosevelt and Churchill at Quebec City on August 19. Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Europe through Normandy, is finalized at the same meeting.

The Quebec Agreement stipulates that Britain and the USA must share resources ''to bring the Tube Alloys [i.e. the Atomic Bomb] project to fruition at the earliest moment.''

The leaders agree that

  • ''we will never use this agency against each other,''

  • ''we will not use it against third parties without each other's consent,'' and

  • ''we will not either of us communicate any information about Tube Alloys to third parties except by mutual consent.''

It is agreed that ''any post-war advantages of an industrial or commercial nature'' will be decided at the discretion of the U.S. President.

Although Canada is not a signatory to the Agreement, Howe is given a seat on the Combined Policy Committee -- a six person trilateral body, headquartered in Washington, set up to oversee the ''full and effective collaboration'' promised in the Agreement.

September, 1943:

A scientific subcommittee is struck to advise the Combined Policy Committee on technical matters. James Chadwick and C.J. Mackenzie are both on the subcommittee, which first meets on September 10, at the Pentagon.

Howe passes an Order-In-Council reserving to the Canadian crown ''all radioactive substances'' found in the Northwest Territories.

December 1943:

The Combined Policy Committee rules that British scientists can join in three aspects of the US effort: the gaseous diffusion project, the electromagnetic project for separating uranium isotopes, and the bomb development work at Los Alamos. This leads to a mass exodus of British scientists to North America, but nothing is said about the Montreal Lab.

The next agenda item is a Combined Development Trust to control and allocate world supplies of radioactive ores. As Canada has not signed the Quebec Agreement, she does not sign the Declaration establishing the Combined Development Trust either. Nevertheless, one of the six trustees will be a Canadian. Still nothing about the Montreal Lab.

January 1944:

Howe announces in the House of Commons (on January 25) that Eldorado has become a crown company. ''In the interests of military secrecy,'' he says, he hopes there will be no embarrassing questions. There are none.

April 1944:

After much delay, finally yielding to sustained arguments by James Chadwick, the Combined Policy Committee decides on April 13, in Washington DC, that a large-scale pilot plant -- a nuclear reactor -- will be built in Canada, using heavy water as a moderator. The US will provide the necessary materials.

However, no information about the chemical properties or even the biomedical hazards of fission products or plutonium is to be transmitted. The Montreal team will have to figure it all out for themselves. The Americans agree, however, to donate a few irradiated fuel rods to help them get started.

July 1944:

The Americans deliver to Montreal a few spent fuel rods of natural uranium (containing plutonium-239) and of thorium (containing uranium-233). Uranium-233 is a man-made isotope of uranium, produced inside a nuclear reactor by bombarding atoms of thorium-232 with neutrons; like uranium-235 and plutonium-239, it too can be used as a nuclear explosive.

The Montreal team knows little about the US method for separating plutonium, except that it is based on precipitation. Precipitation has one big disadvantage: it can only be done in batches. The Montreal team wants a process that runs continuously, mass-producing plutonium for bombs.

Over two hundred different solvents are studied, to strip plutonium away from the fission products, creating two liquid fractions which (like oil and water) do not mix. The plutonium-bearing fraction can then be separated mechanically and continuously. Plutonium can be extracted from it at will. It is a far superior process to the one the Americans are using.

The sixteen months between the Combined Policy Committee's decision and the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan are happy and fruitful times at the Montreal Labs. The basis is laid for three post-war nuclear programs: the Canadian, the British and the French. At Montreal and later, at Chalk River, the British make detailed plans for their post-war nuclear industry -- both civilian and military.

In retrospect, it is clear that both the British and French gained a distinct post-war advantage in reprocessing technology (recovering fissile materials from irradiated rods) because of the Montreal experience. That advantage persists to the present day.

December 1944:

Having no heavy water in England, the British settle on graphite as a moderator for their own post-war nuclear program. Accordingly, a Graphite Group is formed at Montreal to work out the details. By the end of the war all the basic design work has been done for what is to be Britain's first major experimental reactor at Harwell, called BEPO. All the graphite used in the first few British reactors is to come from Ontario.

August 1945:

News of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima reaches Ottawa just before noon on August 6, 1945. As a member of the Combined Policy Committee, Howe expects it. In a prepared statement, he says:

''It is a particular pleasure for me to announce that Canadian scientists have played an intimate part, and have been associated in an effective way, with this great scientific development.''

Three days later, on August 9, Nagasaki is bombed.

September 1945:

One month after the Japanese atomic bombings, on September 6, the ZEEP reactor starts operation at Chalk River. The much larger NRX reactor is in the early stages of construction.

The next day, September 7, Igor Gouzenko -- a cipher clerk at the U.S.S.R. embassy in Ottawa -- reveals the existence of a large Soviet spy ring in Canada. One of its missions is to obtain information about the atomic bomb project. Two of the British scientists associated with the Canadian team are identified as spies.

October 1945:

Harry Truman is now U.S. President, and Clement Atlee is British Prime Minister. Neither of them knew anything about the atomic bomb before coming to office.

In his diary of October 11, Mackenzie King writes: ''How strange it is that I should find myself at the very centre of this problem, through Canada possessing uranium, having contributed to the production of the bomb, and being one of the three countries to hold most of the secrets.''

November 15, 1945:

The heads of the three governments meet in Washington and issue a frank statement, recognising that atomic bombs represent a level of destruction ''hitherto unknown, against which there can be no adequate military defence, and in the employment of which no single nation can in fact have a monopoly.'' Accordingly, there is an impassioned call for international action to eliminate the use of atomic energy for destructive purposes and to promote its use ''for peaceful and humanitarian ends.''

[Editorial remark: To this day, no one has figured out how to reconcile these two conflicting objectives. Some believe it is an insoluble problem as posed; because eliminating the use of fission energy for destructive purposes may require eliminating the use of fission for power generation as well. Nuclear power proponents believe otherwise, but don't relish the idea of both points of view receiving balanced consideration in the corridors of power.]


The NRX reactor goes into operation. The British, eager to build a large scale plutonium separation plant in England, build a small-scale pilot reprocessing plant at Chalk River, drawing on the experience of the Montreal Laboratory.


Russia explodes its first atomic bomb.


Britain explodes its first atomic bomb in Australia, incorporating some of the plutonium that was produced and separated at Chalk River.

The U.S. detonates its first H-bomb. It is more properly called a ''device'' since it is much too heavy to be transported to a target.

The USSR detonates its first H-bomb. It is a ''droppable'' weapon, technologically superior to the American H-bomb.

A violent nuclear accident at Chalk River blows off the roof and destroys the core of the NRX reactor. Hundreds of American and Canadian military men are brought in to help during the radioactive clean-up operation. Jimmy Carter, future U.S. President, is one of these. The damaged NRX core is buried somewhere on the Chalk River site.


US President Dwight Eisenhower, speaking to the UN General Assembly, announces the ''Atoms for Peace'' program.

An explosion associated with the Chalk River reprocessing operation -- designed to separate weapons-grade plutonium from irradiated NRX fuel -- kills one man and injures three others.


The IAEA -- International Atomic Energy Agency -- is created by the United Nations, with substantial Canadian input. Its primary mission is to promote the spread of nuclear power world-wide. Its secondary mission is to regulate the peaceful uses of nuclear power so that client countries will not use nuclear materials or nuclear technology for bombs. The conflict of interest apparent in this dual mandate persists to the present day.

November 1956:

Canada gives India a clone of the NRX reactor; it is called CIRUS. Like the NRX, it is not designed for electricity production. The NRX design has gained a world-wide reputation as a very efficient producer of man-made isotopes, including weapons-grade plutonium, which the Canadians sold to the Americans during the 40s and 50s to help defray the cost of nuclear research.


An accident at Chalk River's NRU reactor results in a metallic uranium fuel rod catching fire, spreading intense radioactive contamination throughout the reactor building and into the atmosphere. Over 600 soldiers are called in to help with the radioactive clean-up.


Canada sells a 125 megawatt CANDU power reactor to Pakistan; it is called KANUPP.

France explodes its first atomic bomb in the Sahara Desert.


The Cuban Missile crisis. President Kennedy orders a blockade of Cuba when aerial surveillance photos show soviet missile launchers for nuclear weapons. After several tense days, during which time the world is on the brink of nuclear war, Kruschev orders the missiles removed from Cuba.


Canada sells India a 200 megawatt CANDU power reactor called RAPP-1. It is modelled after the Douglas Point plant in Ontario.

Following a world-wide outcry over the adverse medical effects of radioactive fallout from atmospheric bomb tests, the Limited Test Ban Treaty is signed by the U.S., U.S.S.R. and U.K., but not by France or China. It outlaws atmospheric and underwater nuclear tests, but allows underground tests.


China explodes its first atomic bomb.

India, sharing a strategic border with China, secretly decides to build an atomic bomb.


Canada sells India a second 200 megawatt CANDU power reactor called RAPP-2, also modelled on the Douglas Point plant.

China explodes its first H-bomb.


The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency concludes that Israel has already developed its own atomic bombs.


SALT I (the first Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty) is signed by the U.S. and U.S.S.R. The treaty freezes the number of launchers, but not the number of warheads.

At the same time, the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty limits each superpower to two sites for the deployment of Anti-Ballistic Missiles.

May 1974:

India explodes its first atomic bomb using weapons-grade plutonium produced in the Canadian-supplied CIRUS reactor. The explosion takes place at the Pokhran site in the Rajasthan desert near the border with Pakistan.

The name of the bomb test is ''Smiling Buddha''.

Canada suspends nuclear cooperation with India pending nuclear safeguards negotiations. India protests that it has not broken any agreements, because its nuclear explosive device is a ''peaceful nuclear explosive'' and not a military weapon.

May 1976:

After unsuccessful discussions to upgrade proliferation safeguards, Canada formally ends its nuclear relationship with India; however, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited quietly restores cooperation with India at a later date.

December 1976:

After unsuccessful discussions to upgrade proliferation safeguards, Canada formally ends its nuclear relationship with Pakistan; however, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited quietly restores cooperation with Pakistan at a later date.


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                                                                                                                                                        1983 SDI Ronald Reagan launches Star Wars.

1991 Bush and Yeltsin sign the START II Treaty; five months later USSR collapses, and the four successor states with nuclear weapons -- Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine -- agree to abide by START II.

1996 CTBT Clinton signs. There are five "declared" nuclear states: the United States, Russia, France, Great Britain and China. India, Israel and Pakistan are also thought to have nuclear weapons or the ability to quickly finish building them.