The secret nuclear tests: Why the US does not trust Russia?

This post was published in Gazeta by Michail Hodarenok. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


WASHINGTON, (BM) – The United States plans to develop reliable tools to accurately determine the coordinates and characteristics of small-capacity nuclear tests. Washington does not have enough information to clearly understand which countries and when carry out such bombings, while blaming various states for violating the treaty banning such tests.

During the Cold War, when the power of many underground TNT equivalent nuclear tests ranged from tens and hundreds of kilotons to megatons, data were collected by literally hundreds of seismic monitoring stations around the world, which were then analyzed and decrypted by scientists.

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Today, no one conducts such large-scale tests that on the one hand it’s good, but on the other – because of this, nuclear tests of insignificant power are much more difficult to detect and classify.

American scientists consider it successful if they manage to obtain data from more than a dozen monitoring stations, Defense News writes. In this regard, the US expert community believes that in the absence of the necessary amount of information, Washington cannot obtain comprehensive data on nuclear tests that are conducted in different parts of the world.

That is why the United States wants to start developing more advanced physical and computer models to track such trials. These models should predict all types of sensor data that record underground explosions.

“When a state carries out underground nuclear tests, we are faced with many uncertainties in our models, which are closely related to various kinds of physical processes, but cannot be precisely determined. In particular, what was the interaction of the explosion with the surrounding soil? Have there been land emissions during testing? What were the geological features of the area at the test site? What was the water content in the surrounding rock? ” – writes the American edition.

According to scientists, the ability to answer these questions can significantly change the understanding of the capabilities of Washington’s opponents, which, in turn, can affect the reaction of the US government.

At the moment, in the US national security laboratories, technical personnel are studying all types of sensory data from underground nuclear explosions, which, at first glance, may seem insignificant.

The earth’s surface shakes every day thousands of times around the world, and the difference between a natural and nuclear earthquake is crucial to US national security, Defense News believes.

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This is necessary in order not to ignore real signals and not respond to false ones.

“When an assessment is given, we are confronted with a huge number of unknown quantities that our current models bring together. We need to be able to individually assess the uncertainties associated with the proposed nuclear test so that we can better evaluate its parameters, such as, for example, TNT power,” Defense News writes.

To do this, you need to look at how often the initial estimates of the power of underground nuclear explosions are reviewed in order to ultimately arrive at the right conclusions.

For example, last year it was argued that the 2017 North Korean underground nuclear test was two-thirds more powerful than previously thought.

More accurate estimates require better mathematics and an understanding of all options, including the location of the explosion and the path of the seismic signal through rocky soils.

One way to improve such estimates is through experimentation, the researchers suggest. Recently, several laboratories of the United States National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA), including the Los Alamos National Laboratory, took part in a series of experiments that analyzed underground explosions of conventional ammunition in order to enhance the detection capabilities of a nuclear explosion.

The experiment used buried underground explosives in the Nevada desert to generate seismic and acoustic signals similar to those emitted by underground nuclear detonation, which allows American scientists to better understand how certain signals travel across the earth’s surface.

This gave specialists in the United States a critical understanding of how to improve the mathematical apparatus and, accordingly, computer models.

With this knowledge, it will be possible to confidently assess the coordinates and characteristics of an underground nuclear explosion and, as a result, the information that decision makers need to determine how best to move forward, Defense News notes.

At the same time, American experts believe that “insignificant nuclear tests are a sad reality in the modern world.”

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“In mid-April of this year, the US has already accused Russia of conducting underground nuclear tests. Washington then said that Russia was conducting nuclear weapons experiments. And such actions, according to the United States, run counter to the declared moratorium on nuclear tests. In addition, the provisions of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) are violated,” ex-First Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Expert Council of the State Duma Defense Committee, Lieutenant General Alexander Burutin, told

In mid-April, the US State Department presented a report for 2019 on countries’ compliance with arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament agreements.

The Office expressed concern that Moscow might not notify Washington of the tests and thereby violate the CTBT.

“The US believes that Russia conducted nuclear weapons experiments. The United States does not know how many nuclear experiments with supercritical parameters or with a self-sustaining reaction were carried out and whether they were carried out in 2019,” the document sent to the US Congress states.

“Nuclear ammunition, if it is not a system of detonation and blocking or other electronics, but the nuclear charge itself, cannot be taken into service unless it is subjected to full-scale tests. And the Pentagon is going to adopt a whole gamut of new-generation special ammunition,” said Alexander Burutin.

According to the general, it is possible that by accusing Russia of violating the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the United States is creating the necessary military-political background for its own exit from the moratorium on nuclear testing, which they introduced in 1992.

“With regard to the Russian system for reconnaissance and detection of nuclear tests, any funds invested in its improvement will be justified,” said Alexander Burutin.


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Original source: Gazeta