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On this day June 18, 1979

The United States and the Soviet Union signed in Vienna the SALT II treaty, placing specific limits on each side’s stock of nuclear weapons.

Carter and sign SALT II treaty in Vienna

Treaty sign in Vienna

The treaty was signed by Leonid Brezhnev and President of the United States Jimmy Carter. In response to the refusal of the U.S. Congress to ratify the treaty, a young member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware, met with the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko, “educated him about American concerns and interests” and secured several changes that neither the U.S. Secretary of State nor President Jimmy Carter could obtain. Read More…

On this day June 16, 1963

Aboard Vostok 6, Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.

After watching the successful launch of Vostok 5 on 14 June, Tereshkova began final preparations for her own flight. On the morning of 16 June 1963, Tereshkova and her back-up Solovyova were both dressed in spacesuits and taken to the launch pad by bus.

After completing her communication and life support checks, she was sealed inside the Vostok. After a flawless two-hour countdown, Vostok 6 launched faultlessly, and Tereshkova became the first woman to fly into space. Her call sign in this flight was Chaika (English: Seagull; Russian: Ча́йка), later commemorated as the name of an asteroid, 1671 Chaika. Read More…

Bomb kill many in Stavropol, Russia

A radio-controlled bomb exploded in the city center in the southern Russian city of Stavropol earlier today, killing at least six and injuring more than 40, according to initial reports.

The explosion occurred at 18.45 Moscow time (UTC 14.45) in front of the Stavropol Trade-Union Sport and Culture Palace, where many people gathered, the Stavropolye State TV Company reports. A performance by Chechen dance ensemble “Vainakh” was about to begin in the Palace. Security officials haven’t dismissed a possible connection between the concert and the attack. Read More…

On this day May 11, 1995

In New York City, more than 170 countries decide to extend the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty indefinitely and without conditions.

Participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

The Treaty to limit the spread of nuclear weapons, was opened for signature on July 1, 1968.

There are currently 189 countries party to the treaty, five of which have nuclear weapons: the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, and the People’s Republic of China (the permanent members of the UN Security Council). Read More…

Two explosions at a mine in Russia

The first blast occurred at 20:55 Moscow Summer Time (16:55 UTC) with the second at 01:00 MST (21:00 UTC). The explosions were confirmed by investigators to have been caused by methane gas.

A secondary explosion was reported approximately four hours later, with 20 rescue workers now among those missing. The second explosion caused a collapse of the mine’s ventilation shaft, drastically reducing the flow of fresh air into the mine.

Rescue efforts were suspended after the second blast. As of 10 May 2010, 30 people were confirmed to have died, at least 71 injured and up to 80 remained trapped underground.

The Russian emergencies minister confirmed that rescue efforts were ongoing, saying “There is always a chance of recovery.” Rescue work resumed late on 9 May after methane levels had dropped below safety limits and, at the peak of the operation, 560 people were involved with aid being sent from other parts of Russia.

Chaos broke out in the Ukrainian parliament

The clashes began as members of parliament were debating extending the lease on the Sevastopol naval base.

Sevastopol area

The Russians currently have a lease on the base until 2017. The Russians have offered Ukraine cheaper supplies of Russian natural gas in exchange for a further 25 years on the lease.

Several smoke bombs were thrown during a debate members of parliament were seen fighting on the chamber floor while opposition MPs threw eggs at the speaker of the house, Volodymyr Lytvyn.

It is not clear who threw the smoke bombs, although opposition MPs were thought to be responsible, but the debate continued despite the lingering smoke and chaos. The speaker had to be protected by two aides holding umbrellas and politicians held handkerchiefs to their mouths.

Along with the brawling MPs, thousands of people waited outside the parliament building protesting the extended lease. Read More…

Nuclear Security Summit

President Barack Obama open the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.  The president says he wants new commitments to secure weapons-grade plutonium and uranium to prevent nuclear terrorism.

With concerns about the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea a major backdrop to the conference, this is the biggest U.S.-sponsored gathering of world leaders in more than 60 years.

The New START treaty was signed on April 8, 2010 in Prague by U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvedev and Iran will hold the Tehran International Conference on Disarmament and Non- Proliferation, 2010, announced on April 4, 2010 and to be held April 17–18, 2010.

The Summit is the largest gathering of heads of state called by a United States president since the 1945 United Nations Conference on International Organization. Delegations from forty-six governments plus the United States are attending, thirty-eight of which are represented by heads of state or government. Read More…

US and Russian leaders cut nuclear stockpiles

U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev have signed a treaty to reduce their countries’ nuclear stockpiles by 25 to 30 percent over seven years.

In the Spanish Hall, an ornate chamber within the Czech capital’s Prague Castle, the two countries, which own more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons, agreed to downsize their arsenals.

Presidents Obama and Medvedev sat in front of U.S. and Russian flags and signed their countries’ first major nuclear arms reduction accord in almost two decades.

The new ten-year pact, which is called the “New START Treaty”, requires the U.S. and Russia to cut their inventory of nuclear warheads to about 1,500 each in the next seven years. Both countries are estimated to have well over 2,000 warheads now. Read More…