US conducts underground explosion at nuclear test site
The US has conducted an underground explosion at a nuclear testing range in Nevada, just after Russian lawmakers approved the withdrawal from an international treaty that bans all nuclear tests.
The experiment at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) on Wednesday involved “chemical high-explosives and radiotracers,” a statement by the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said.
“These experiments advance our efforts to develop new technology in support of US nuclear nonproliferation goals,” Corey Hinderstein, the NNSA’s deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation, stated. “They will help reduce global nuclear threats by improving the detection of underground nuclear explosive tests.”
Several US laboratories collected data using various types of sensors, which will “help validate new predictive explosion models and detection algorithms,” the press release added.
The US experiment took place just hours after the Russian State Duma, the lower chamber of the parliament, passed a bill on withdrawing the ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The move is meant to achieve parity with the US, which did not ratify the international agreement.
Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian envoy to the UN in Vienna, reiterated Moscow’s commitment to maintaining an unofficial moratorium on testing once the withdrawal from the CTBT is finalized, unless its hand is forced.
“Never say never. Tests may resume under certain circumstances. I believe that such a development would be negative for the modern world, for maintaining stability,” he said in an interview with Russian media. “We have enough turbulence in international relations and wouldn’t want another powerful factor added.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that if the US resumes nuclear testing, which he believes it may do as part of the modernization of its arsenal, Moscow will follow suit. Neither nation has conducted live nuclear tests since the early 1990s. Moscow’s last test was in 1990, before the USSR collapsed.