Military Review

Will the US resume nuclear testing?

Will the US resume nuclear testing?

Operation Julin. Preparing to undermine Divider, the latest test of its kind, September 23, 1992. Photo by NNSA

The US is launching a full-scale program for updating and modernizing strategic nuclear forces. One of its components may be the development and testing of promising special warheads. Now Washington is deciding whether to restart testing of such products - and these news become a cause for concern.

Disputes in the highest circles

On May 23, The Washington Post, citing its sources in the White House, announced new discussions at the highest level. Allegedly, on May 15, at a meeting of the military and political leadership of the United States, a proposal was made to resume nuclear tests, which were stopped several decades ago. With their help, you can solve several questions of various kinds.

First of all, the tests will establish the real characteristics of the existing ammunition. In addition, holding such events in the shortest possible time will show the potential of the US nuclear industry. This, in turn, will give Washington an additional argument in possible negotiations with Moscow and Beijing.

According to The Washington Post, the first discussion of the new proposal ended in nothing. However, the country's leadership does not exclude the possibility of a new discussion with certain results.

NNSA role

On May 26, the acting resume commented on the acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Affairs Drew Walter. According to him, upon receipt of an appropriate order from the president, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) will be able to prepare new tests.

Warheads W87 at the breeding stage. NNSA Photo

The preparatory work will take only a few months. However, such a rush will affect the results, and the test potential will be limited in terms of information collection and overall effectiveness. It will take several years to prepare for full-fledged trials with full research effect.

D. Walter noted that one of the responsibilities of the NNSA in the context of nuclear weapons is to maintain the capabilities and competencies for conducting tests. This task was successfully completed, and new tests can be carried out using a stored well at the Nevada test site, designed for underground explosions.

Contracts and Limitations

The proposal to resume nuclear testing did not appear from scratch. A long-term strategic nuclear weapons development program is being worked out in the United States, during which it is planned to develop and put into service new types of nuclear warheads. In view of the characteristic features of the construction of strategic nuclear forces in the past, it may be necessary to design and test completely new products. However, Washington is facing some limitations.

Since 1963, the United States has been party to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. weapons in the atmosphere, outer space and under water. This agreement allows only underground explosions, and its participants actively used this opportunity. So, from 1963 to 1992, the NNSA conducted 30 test “operations” with an explosion of 801 warheads. The last such tests took place on September 23, 1992 as part of the Julin operation.

After that, the underground explosions ceased, but the NNSA was instructed to support the test sites in case of resumption of work. In accordance with the regulations of 1993, 24-36 months from the date of receipt of the order are allocated for the restoration of the landfill.

The launch of the Trident II rocket - at the moment this is the basis of the US strategic nuclear forces. US Navy Photos

In the same period, the development of fissile materials for nuclear weapons stopped. It was proposed to equip new ammunition with existing products from storage or withdrawn from decommissioned warheads. From time to time, experiments were carried out with a subcritical mass, which made it possible to determine the real characteristics of the product without detonation. Tests of missiles and bombs were carried out using inert warheads.

In 1996, a new Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened to sign the complement of the previous agreement. To date, 184 countries have signed it and 168 have ratified it. However, several key countries have not acceded to the Treaty, which is why it has not yet entered into force.

The United States signed the CTBT as one of the first in September 1996. However, it has not yet been ratified, and Washington is not formally obligated to comply with its terms. However, in fact, the United States respected the moratorium on testing - they completely stopped all such events even before the appearance of a formal agreement.

The new policy

In 2018, the new US nuclear doctrine was adopted. Among other things, this document takes into account the state and prospects of nuclear arsenals and suggests ways for its development. In connection with the gradual decommissioning of obsolete and physically obsolete products, it was decided to resume the production of plutonium elements in limited quantities, less than 80-100 units. in year.

Tests of such products can be carried out according to proven methods without undermining. However, this approach is faced with criticism, and there is a need for full-fledged tests undermining. Whether such events are really needed is a big question. As it now turns out, now it is being discussed at the highest level, and there is no definite answer yet.

B61 tactical bombs under the carrier wing. Photo US Air Force

Legal incident

As you can see, a very interesting situation is emerging. The United States has carefully complied with the terms of the Test Ban Treaty in three environments from the start. Since 1992, they have not conducted nuclear tests at all, and in 1996 they signed the CTBT. On the other hand, the latter has not yet been ratified by Washington. Moreover, this Agreement is still not valid due to the lack of necessary participants.

Thus, no agreement formally prohibits the United States from conducting new nuclear tests - but only at underground "sites." Refusal of such events is a manifestation of Washington’s “good will”. However, there is a curious incident. The resumption of testing directly contradicts the goals and objectives of the CTBT - and this already violates the terms of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969.

How exactly the USA will get out of this situation is unclear. However, recent events in the international arena suggest that the solution will be the simplest and most beneficial for Washington. As for possible criticism from other countries, they simply will not pay attention to it.

Contract on the background of contracts

It must be recalled that until recently, the United States participated in a number of international treaties in the field of nuclear and other weapons. However, for some time now, the number of existing agreements has been steadily declining, and it is precisely on the American initiative.

The first to terminate the Intermediate-Range Missile Treaty. Now the United States is withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty. The next year, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty ends, and its extension or replacement remains open to question. Judging by the latest news, in the near future Washington may abandon the conditions of the inactive CTBT.

W76-2 - the latest warhead for ballistic missiles. Only fissile material in cash is used in its design. US Navy Graphics

Thus, the American military and political leadership clearly shows its attitude to international treaties that are not in line with its views. Washington demands to include conditions favorable for itself in the contracts - either leaves it and relieves itself of all obligations.

The discussion continues

According to recent news, Washington has not yet decided on the need to resume nuclear testing. Some of the available factors may require such events, but the available technologies and techniques can do without full blasting. In the near future, US authorities can determine whether to continue the previous work or to resume full-scale bombings.

It can be assumed that in such disputes the last word will be for scientists and engineers directly involved in the development of nuclear weapons. However, test explosions can be a “signal” to third countries, and therefore politicians with their views and plans will take part in the dispute. All this seriously complicates the prediction of further events.

Meanwhile, other countries have the opportunity to demonstrate their desire for peace. So, in 1996 Russia signed the CTBT and ratified it in 2000. Despite the actual inaction of this agreement, our country does not conduct nuclear tests. In September last year, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that our country was ready to adhere to restrictions if other states also abide by them. What will be decided in Washington, and what will be the reaction of Moscow or other capitals - time will tell.

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  1. Thrifty
    Thrifty 1 June 2020 05: 44
    Yes, the Yankees will easily begin nuclear tests! They have already poached so many contracts that it is a matter of time! The same trump will be re-elected for a second term and will give the nod to the gusts of nuclear warheads! The probability of this is very high.
    1. Civil
      Civil 1 June 2020 07: 14
      That's what you don’t need. Russia will start in response, oncology will again update records. No to nuclear tests.
      1. iouris
        iouris 1 June 2020 13: 18
        Quote: Civil
        oncology will update records.

        And what is your evidence? There are no statistics. For the "common people" to start thinking, a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere on Novaya Zemlya is needed. Approximately so at 25 ... 50 Mgt. And there is probably no other way.
        1. Maki Avellevich
          Maki Avellevich 1 June 2020 20: 52
          Quote: iouris
          need a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere on Novaya Zemlya. Something like this at 25 ... 50 Mgt. And there is probably no other way.

          after the last test in the new land, the USSR and the USA abruptly realized that with such explosions it is possible and indeed to meet Kuzkin’s mother and signed Treaty on the Prohibition of Testing Nuclear Weapons in the Atmosphere, Outer Space and Underwater.
          not so much because it pulled hard, but because it burned for a long time. and it was difficult to measure the TNT equivalent of the explosion; in time it stretched fairly. but for the order recorded as 58.
          hydrogen began to spark around the synthetic sun. if the reaction had not suffocated even in the Mariana Trench it would have been dry.
          and you say let's bang 50 megaton commercials.
          1. iouris
            iouris 1 June 2020 22: 03
            Well yes. Only this will be noticed. RF will be great again.
    2. Kalmar
      Kalmar 1 June 2020 08: 52
      Quote: Thrifty
      They have already poached so many contracts.

      They did not take them away, but purposefully left them. And this is a rather unpleasant tendency: in fact, the Americans openly say that they do not see the need to restrain themselves by any agreements with Moscow in the military sphere. On the other hand, perhaps this is some kind of "mnogohodovochka" designed to come to new, similar agreements, but with the participation of China: for the Americans, it is an increasingly likely enemy.
      1. iouris
        iouris 1 June 2020 23: 10
        Quote: Kalmar
        but with the participation of China

        As they say here in Beijing, "there are no bad people." That's the whole multi-move.
        1. Kalmar
          Kalmar 1 June 2020 23: 28
          Quote: iouris
          As they say here in Beijing, "there are no bad people."

          Well, that's how to put a question. The USSR, too, hardly wanted to get rid of medium-range ballistic missiles, but when Pershing appeared in obscene quantities near the borders, it had to reconsider its attitude to life.

          For China, the need to get involved in the nuclear race now may turn out to be burdensome: it is much more profitable to invest in conventional weapons, with the help of which expansion in the AP region will be carried out. So who knows, "ma" or "dumb", politics is a delicate matter.
  2. apro
    apro 1 June 2020 06: 00
    Well, they’ll start .... and what will it change? How did their opinion not backed up by force stop them? How should they be afraid?
    1. your1970
      your1970 1 June 2020 06: 37
      Quote: apro
      Well, they’ll start .... and what will it change? How did their opinion not backed up by force stop them? How should they be afraid?

      The question is not in them - countries that do not have, but really want to have nuclear weapons, will accelerate their work because of this
    2. Quadro
      Quadro 1 June 2020 07: 17
      Quote: apro
      Well, they’ll start .... and what will it change? How did their opinion not backed up by force stop them? How should they be afraid?

      Dumped the DPRK to do something, but waved the club with nobility. Stop believing in their omnipotence. Their century is coming to an end and now the agony is coming.
      1. 2 Level Advisor
        2 Level Advisor 1 June 2020 09: 33
        Well, what about the essence of the question? "How did someone not backed up by force stop them? How could they be afraid?" Will North Korea prevent them from ignoring the treaties?
      2. Waltasar
        Waltasar 1 June 2020 10: 11
        Quote: Quadro
        Zassali DPRK to do something

        Maybe this is the case? Now the usa besides us has serious rivals. Is China limited to any of the treaties mentioned in the article?
  3. Free wind
    Free wind 1 June 2020 06: 01
    It seems the first monkey, taking a stick in his paw, decided to test it on his relative. Likewise, warriors can’t wait to test weapons, and it will be great if it is military operations, and then they yell this is an invaluable experience. Yes, plenty of experience. We take the richest combat experience of wars, and so what? When taking cities, tanks could not shell the upper floors. BMP in Afghanistan couldn’t shell the hills, the gun’s elevation angle wasn’t enough. Here the combat experience showed what was needed, what kind of combat? Hundreds of soldiers were killed, but you read books about the war, everything is written there. Snipers, understood what they needed, but you didn’t read books, how are snipers effective? But damn, after 5 years in Chechnya, again the same thing. Now the action of any weapon can be calculated on computers, conducted tests at training ranges, and again counted on computers. The same thing with atomic weapons, I want an atomic club to hit someone on the cumpole. Well, at least a pumpkin in the garden. Hit yourself with the infection. Those who want to gather in a bunch around the charge. Yes, undermine. This also applies to ours. Destroy their own land and inhabitants, not somewhere in the desert, but right in the middle of the country. The teachings of 54 years, it’s necessary to think of driving tens of thousands of people through a nuclear explosion. Zhukov and the generals wanted to see how the soldiers would fight after the explosion. There were already hundreds of thousands of evidence of what happened after the explosion in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yes, it is possible to act, but it is mortally dangerous, could it be read? Yes, I got up close to the explosion, and then I would ride a horse after the explosion. And then share the fullness of sensations.
    1. Alex777
      Alex777 1 June 2020 14: 09
      Likewise, warriors can’t wait to test weapons, and it would be great if it’s military operations,

      US warriors know best that no one is threatening them and are not going to.
      And the American warriors, when they get the president’s order to do something, have a good question: how many people should we kill. From the answer take data for planning.
      It is said that Obama answered directly. But Trump begins to fidget and does not specifically speak. hi
    2. DDT
      DDT 7 June 2020 23: 58
      Yes, I completely agree. Although I don’t think about the fact that the Americans will begin to experience something again. There is also a very strong green lobby. Greenpeace will squeeze them so, it will not seem enough. And Europe will stand on its hind legs and the Yankees do not really care so much as to risk image losses. God willing, this idiocy will not start again.
  4. certero
    certero 1 June 2020 06: 58
    I am sure that we are on the threshold of a world where a significant number of states will possess atomic weapons. It is possible this will lead to a more peaceful planet. Or they’ll throw yaerbatons for any reason
  5. parusnik
    parusnik 1 June 2020 07: 13
    I’m talking about
    That all land is our common home.
    Our good house, spacious house,
    We all live in it from birth.
    I’m talking about that,
    That they want to set this house on fire
    They want us to get in trouble
    So that life disappears forever.
    Earth does not sleep every day
    He looks into the eyes of his children.
    You and I look in the eyes
    And you and I cannot be silent.
    I’m talking about
    That this house is dear to us all.
    Our good house, spacious house,
    We all live in it from birth.
    I’m talking about that,
    What should we save our home
    Let's prove that it’s not in vain
    The earth is hoping for us.
    R. Rozhdestvensky ...
  6. Operator
    Operator 1 June 2020 08: 43
    The 1996 Agreement on the General Prohibition of Nuclear Tests (including underground) was not entered into force in connection with the refusal of many states possessing nuclear technologies to sign or ratify it (including the USA, the Russian Federation, and the PRC). So technically no one needs to withdraw from the agreement to begin underground tests of nuclear charges.

    For air, underwater and space tests, the ban on the agreement of 1963 is still in force.
  7. Ros 56
    Ros 56 1 June 2020 11: 39
    We'll wait and see, only then the striped ones should not be shown to North Korea, or Iran, nor to others, nor even to us.
  8. Doccor18
    Doccor18 1 June 2020 12: 13
    The United States, which has a powerful tool for non-nuclear attack - a mass of high-precision missile defense systems - tried by all means to reduce the importance of nuclear forces on the planet. We entered into various treaties, ratified, banned, START123 concluded and really, at some point, we stopped updating it ourselves, which we also wanted from other countries. However, Russia, the PRC and a number of other countries, recently, have taken a cardinal step forward in high-precision KR ... And now the Americans have lost their unconditional leadership in this segment of armaments. Therefore, they immediately remembered about nuclear weapons, conducting tests, blocking previously signed agreements, etc. The situation has changed, and the United States is trying to jump into the last car of the departing train.
  9. iouris
    iouris 1 June 2020 12: 16
    Resume. Therefore, we need an agreement to resume testing: no more than 365 per year.
  10. Old26
    Old26 1 June 2020 13: 18
    Quote: Waltasar
    Maybe this is the case? Now the usa besides us has serious rivals. Is China limited to any of the treaties mentioned in the article?

    China signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty but, like the United States, has not ratified it. In fact, the fact that China is not detonating nuclear charges right now is simply their goodwill ...
  11. NF68
    NF68 1 June 2020 16: 08
    For today's Americans, any international treaty is so long as it benefits the United States. If the contract is not beneficial to the United States, the United States will find 1000 + 1 reasons to abandon its obligations.
  12. srha
    srha 1 June 2020 19: 51
    To make the United States less involved in nonsense, we can revive the project of laying a trans-American channel from the Atlantic to the Pacific with the help of peaceful atomic explosions -
  13. Old26
    Old26 2 June 2020 12: 52
    Quote: NF68
    For today's Americans, any international treaty is so long as it benefits the United States. If the contract is not beneficial to the United States, the United States will find 1000 + 1 reasons to abandon its obligations.

    Nikolay! All contracts are compromised. No one will conclude an agreement that is beneficial to one side and harmful to the other
    Of course, all contracts have an article that describes the mechanism for withdrawing from the contract when it becomes unprofitable for one of the parties ...
    The only question is why we do not withdraw from such agreements. A political game to show how good we are and our opponents bad? But this is only for his own electorate. I repeat the question again: WHY ARE WE NOT GOING OUT? Indeed, the situation now is such that NATO countries will fly over the territory of Russia within the framework of the Don, while transmitting part of the information (or all) to their American allies.
  14. Lara Croft
    Lara Croft 7 June 2020 13: 02
    The USA has no choice how to resume them ...
    Trump said about the widespread modernization of the strategic nuclear forces .... and
    The United States has not ratified so far, so their hands are not tied ... unlike us ...
  15. DDT
    DDT 8 June 2020 00: 02
    Yes nifiga will not resume. The world is not the same. Greta Tumberg, well done am
    But seriously, there are enough idiots everywhere who believe that the Earth is flat. That there is no virus. That chupacabra lives near Voronezh. In my yard yesterday, the Stanists killed a cat and threw a neighbor under the door ... So the gamna is enough, unfortunately. crying