Data InsightsNuclear weapons tests are much less common than in the past
March 27, 2024Pablo Rosado

Nuclear weapons tests are much less common than in the past

Bar chart showing the number of nuclear weapons tests conducted each year by the countries that own nuclear weapons.

The first time a nuclear bomb was ever detonated was in the Trinity test, conducted by the United States in July 1945. Less than a month later, nuclear bombs were used against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nuclear weapons have not been used in combat again. But more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted by eight countries.

Between 1958 and 1961, the United States and the Soviet Union temporarily suspended nuclear tests. But, as we can see on the chart, their number peaked immediately afterward. In 1962, a total of 178 nuclear bombs were detonated — roughly one test every two days.

Thankfully, the number of nuclear tests has decreased rapidly since the mid-1980s. In the last two decades, only 6 tests have been conducted, all by North Korea. The last test took place in 2017.

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