40 years ago yesterday, China became the world’s fifth nuclear power.
When China shocked the world with the appearance of a mushroom cloud over the Lop Nur salt lake on Oct. 16, 1964 — 40 years ago yesterday — it was the fruit of arduous work at “Nuclear City” in northwestern Qinghai Province.
I wonder if they came up with a cool name for their little venture…The Beijing Project? I’m sorry, I couldn’t think of anything better.
The Soviets provided the initial funding and experts, yet cut off assistance after the Sino-Soviet split.
The victory was all the sweeter because the Soviet Union had abruptly withdrawn its assistance to China’s nuclear program as tensions between Beijing and Moscow snapped around 1960.
“Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had said China could not develop a nuclear bomb in 20 years’ time,” a caption at the photo exhibition says mockingly.
Flash forward to 2004 and a rather ironic twist of fate.