Nuclear Standoff

The Arctic Transformed

the Arctic 1977.0817

Nuclear Standoff

Cold War in the Arctic, Climate Change (17 August 1977)

Historical Map of the Arctic & the Far North

In 1949, the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear device, leading to an arms and technology race with the US. In the middle of this confrontation was the once remote Arctic, providing the shortest route between the two superpowers, first for bombers and then ICBMs. Nor did the Arctic remain a complete barrier to shipping as new nuclear submarines began to travel freely under the ice.

Main Events

Soviets test first nuclear device

Soviet Union conducts it first nuclear weapon test at Semipalatinsk, Kazakh SSR

Greenland Treaty effective

United States-Denmark treaty on Greenland effective, allowing for joint use of facilities in Greenland in defense of the NATO-designated Greenland Defense Area and giving the US rights to begin secret construction of Thule Air Base

High Arctic relocation

7-8 Inuit families from Port Harrison (Inukjuak), Quebec, and 3 families from Pond Inlet, Northwest Territories, transported to Grise Fiord, Ellesmere Island, and Resolute Bay, Cornwallis Island, in effort by Government of Canada to populate High Arctic

USSR, Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania sign Warsaw Pact

Nautilus reaches North Pole

United States Navy's USS Nautilus (SSN-571), the world's first operational nuclear-powered submarine, become the first vessel to complete a submerged transit to North Pole

Alaska becomes US state

Territory of Alaska admitted to US as state of Alaska

Greenland joins EC

Denmark joins the European Communities, thereby bringing its dependency, Greenland, into the Communities as well

Arktika reaches North Pole

Soviet nuclear-powered icebreaker NS Arktika becomes first surface ship to reach North Pole

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