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Nina Sughrue
Video ClipAudio ClipText Version

Michael Lekson
Vice President, Education and Training Center, International Programs


Nina Sughrue
Video ClipAudio ClipText Version

Mort Halperin, Executive Director Open Society Policy Center.

Chapter 4:

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

The U.N. and the Bomb

In the summer of 1945, a series of events took place that would change the world.

UN Delegates
Remains of a commercial exhibition hall in Hiroshima. The building now stands as the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. (AP Photo/Stanley Troutman)

On June 26 in San Francisco, delegates from around the globe reached unanimous agreement on the United Nations Charter. Less than three weeks later, on a deserted plain in New Mexico, scientists from the U.S., working in collaboration with counterparts from the U.K. and Canada, tested and successfully exploded the world's first atomic bomb.

Ten days later in Potsdam, Germany, the U.S., U.K., and USSR again called for the unconditional surrender of Japan, and ten days after that, following Japan's defiant rejection, the U.S. detonated the world’s second atomic bomb on Hiroshima. U.S. President Harry S. Truman announced, "The force from which the sun draws its power has been loosed against those who brought war to the Far East."1

Two days later, Truman signed the formal document of the United Nations Charter, and the Soviet Union declared war on Japan, attacking Japanese forces in Manchuria. One day after that, with Japan still defiant, the U.S. dropped another atomic bomb, this time on Nagasaki. One day later, with two cities in ruins, the Emperor of Japan offered to surrender. In the space of less than two months, the United Nations was born, World War II came to an end, and the world entered the nuclear age, with the U.S. and USSR clearly emerging as the two strongest post-war powers.

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