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7 Surprising Facts About the Nuclear Bomb Tests at Bikini Atoll


In November 1945, just a few months after atomic bombs were dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, U.S. military leaders began planning additional nuclear weapons tests. The first location that they picked to stage a blast was a remote place that probably few Americans even knew existed. Bikini Atoll, a tiny ring of small coral islands with a total land mass of only about two square miles, was part of the larger Marshall Islands chain in the central Pacific Ocean.

Bikini atoll met the military’s criteria, as detailed in a report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. It was under U.S. control, and it was far from shipping lanes, yet within 1,000 miles of a base from which bombers could take off. Furthermore, the lagoon that the atoll encircled provided a protected harbor for Navy ships, including vessels that would be used as targets. And it had only a tiny population—by one account, just 167 people—who could be relocated by the military.





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