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Building the Bomb: The full story of the Nevada test site

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Yucca flats The US conducted most of its early nuclear tests in the Pacific, but they became too costly to continue so in 1950, the US government began to look for a safe place to test nuclear weapons on its mainland.

The Nevada Test Site was established a few years after the end of the second world war, against the fear of an all-out nuclear attack from the Soviet Union. As the Cold War took hold, America needed a convenient place to design and build its nuclear arsenal.

From 1951, over four decades, the US government carried out almost a thousand nuclear tests at this test site, earning it the nickname of the “most bombed place on Earth”. Here, they took the crude nuclear weapons that had been dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and honed their destructive power.

A hundred of these tests, known as atmospheric shots, took place above ground, creating the characteristic mushroom clouds that have become synonymous with nuclear detonations.

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