In 1492 Columbus set sail west in search of a new sea route to India and China and discovered America.
Although the North American continent had been discovered previously by Icelandic Leif Erikson in the 11th century (and possibly other Norse explorers) Christopher Columbus’s accidental discovery came at a time that European powers were looking to colonise and expand their territory. This led to the first European settlements in America which have developed into some of the most powerful nations in the world.
Trade routes to Asia had been very important to the countries of Europe and all the great powers had relied on this trade in order to grow and become the great world powers. Through this trade a huge network across the land had developed and became known as the “Silk Road” due mainly to the huge silk trade from China to Europe. However this trade network became increasing dangerous particularly with the fall of the Mongol Empire and the growth of the Turkish or Ottoman Empire. For over a hundred years the European powers had looked for a new sea route to the far East which had been accomplished through travelling around Africa.
Christopher Columbus was born in Italian republic of Genoa between August and October 1451. He first began travelling in his teens and settled for some time (between 1477 – 1485) in Portugal where he had a wife and son. Columbus was well read and had convinced himself that the Japanese shore lay some 2,500 miles away from Italy if travelling west. His assumption was based on the Earth being much smaller than it is and that Asia is much larger (despite popular misconceptions it had been known since the time of the ancient Greeks that the earth was round). When Columbus put forward a proposal to King John II of Portugal, on two occasions, that he could reach India in a short voyage travelling west and requested finance, the Kings scholars rejected Columbus’s estimation and plan. Unperturbed Columbus eventually managed to get backing from the King of Spain and set sail on the 3rd of August 1492.
On the 12th of October Christopher Columbus and his crew landed in the Bahamas and claimed the land for Spain. Shortly after on the 28th of October he landed on what he assumed was China but was actually Cuba. On the 5th of December Columbus landed on Hispaniola. Columbus and his men were initially welcomed by the natives who Columbus called Indios (or Indians) but when they landed on they’re last stop of the voyage on the Samana Peninsula they first encountered hostility.
Columbus returned a hero and made three more trips of discovery to what he continued to believe was Asia.
In 1952 The United Kingdom tested their first nuclear bomb.
The first nation to create and test a nuclear bomb was the United States in July 1945 with a 20kt device named “Trinity” followed by Russia with “RDS-1” in Aug/Sep 1949. The United Kingdom tested their first nuclear bomb on the 3rd of August 1952 with “Hurricane” a 25 kiloton device tested off Western Australia. On the 13th of February 1960 France tested their 70kt “Gerboise bleue" becoming the fourth and on the 16th of October 1964 China became the fifth with their 22 kiloton device. These five nations are the only permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) which is a branch of the United Nations and was founded with the UN in 1946.
After World War II these nations were considered the main victors and they maintained the most powerful military forces in the world (except France who were over taken by Japan in 2012). On the 1st of July 1968 the United Nations set up the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The treaty came into effect on the 5th of March 1970 and called for all nations that signed to only use nuclear power for peaceful means such as the production of power (excluding the 5 permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)). 190 countries have signed the treaty but in 2003 North Korea withdrew its participation. India, Pakistan and North Korea are the only countries to have openly tested their nuclear weapons rejecting the Treaty.
Israel is widely believed that Israel has nuclear weapons but they have never officially admitted anything. Evidence, such as photographs, from a former nuclear technician was leaked by Mordechai Vanunu in 1986 when he fled to Britain. He was lured to Italy soon after and abducted by Israeli forces. He was imprisoned for 18 years (11 of which were in solitary confinement) and released in 2004.