Nevada National Security Site Starts New Nuclear Verification Effort

A new method for improving the United States' capacity to pinpoint "low-yield" atomic detonations against the background of earthquakes and non-nuclear blasts was demonstrated on Wednesday at the Nevada National Security Site (see GSN, Oct. 6, 2010).

The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration in a release said the new Source Physics Experiments would enhance the international nuclear nonproliferation regime by helping to ensure that countries were not secretly detonating nuclear test devices.

"By conducting this experiment the United States can validate and improve seismic models and the use of new generation technology to further monitor countries’ compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington said in provided remarks.

The United States has an informal moratorium on nuclear testing but has not ratified the treaty.

The inaugural Source Physics Experiment employed 220 pounds of chemical high-yield explosives and was carried out 180 feet below ground. The Nevada National Security Site, contractor National Security Technologies, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and three nuclear weapons laboratories collaborated on the effort.

"The experiment marks an important step in strengthening the relationship of the NNSS and NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation programs while implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda," Harrington said (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration release, May 4).

May 5, 2011
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A new method for improving the United States' capacity to pinpoint "low-yield" atomic detonations against the background of earthquakes and non-nuclear blasts was demonstrated on Wednesday at the Nevada National Security Site (see GSN, Oct. 6, 2010).