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BIKINI ATOLL, Marshall Islands (Reuters) – At first glance, it looks like a tropical paradise: an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, where palm trees encircling a pristine blue-green lagoon sway in the breeze.

But to the native islanders, Bikini Atoll is more like an exhausted, scorched wasteland, where they eke out an existence in a place that today is forgotten by much of the world. But on March 1, 1954, it became ground zero during the Cold War.