On 16 July 1945, the United States did it. The Soviets followed suit on 29 August 1949, followed by the UK on 3 October 1952. The French followed on 13 February 1960, followed by China on 16 October 1964. On 18 May 1974, India joined the club, with Pakistan doing so on 28 May 1998. Israel and/or South Africa may have tested on 22 September 1979, in an incident detected by an American satellite.
As of 9 October 2006, North Korea seems to have tested a nuclear bomb. It makes you wonder how many more states will do so in the next fifty years, as well as what the security character of the Southeast Asian area, in particular, will be by then.
That said, while they seem to have scientists and engineers capable of making nuclear weapons, the North Koreans don’t seem to have staff capable of producing a particularly cogent English press release:
The nuclear test was conducted with indigenous wisdom and technology 100 percent. It marks a historic event as it greatly encouraged and pleased the KPA and people that have wished to have powerful self-reliant defense capability.
Since this test was pretty clearly meant for American audiences, you might have expected them to pay more attention to their wording. I suppose multi-kiloton underground blasts speak louder than press releases.
Despite such nationalist rhetoric, the test seems more likely to endanger the average North Korean than help them. In the short term, there is the danger that someone will try to strike their nuclear capability before they develop credible delivery systems. Also, as The Economist identifies: “[T]he immediate threats from North Koreaâ€™s new capability come from radioactive leaks into the atmosphere and North Koreaâ€™s groundwater.” Finally, the test risks sparking a nuclear arms race in Asia that threatens the security of the whole region, at least.
[Update: 1:30pm] Based on my server logs, lots of people have been looking for these photos of test sites in Nevada during the last few days. Google still hasn’t figured out that this site has moved to WordPress. In any case, the photos show one of the ugly legacies of testing and reinforce the point that, while world should be moving towards nuclear disarmament, the converse seems to be taking place.