U.S. Completes Two More Nonexplosive Atomic Tests

The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration on Tuesday confirmed the United States had completed in the past year two additional nuclear tests that did not involve the fission process necessary for atomic detonations, Kyodo News reported (see GSN, Sept. 17, 2010).

The subcritical tests, conducted on December 1 and February 2, built on last September's "Bacchus" experiment and aided in ensuring the dependability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, an NNSA representative said. The September test was the first subcritical trial to have been conducted since August 2006.

The newly revealed tests were the second and third of President Obama's term, and they highlighted his administration's commitment to sustaining U.S. strategic offensive capabilities while other nations also hold nuclear weapons, according to Kyodo. Disclosure of the events could prompt criticism by nuclear weapons opponents, the news service said.

The U.S. Energy Department office publicly cited the two experiments for the first time in a quarterly "Summary of Experiments Conducted in Support of Stockpile Stewardship" issued in May.

Washington has contended subcritical nuclear tests do not violate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty because they produce no atomic detonation (see GSN, July 18). The United States conducted its first such experiment in 1997, following its last nuclear test blast five years earlier (Kyodo News/Mainichi Daily News, July 20).

July 20, 2011
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The U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration on Tuesday confirmed the United States had completed in the past year two additional nuclear tests that did not involve the fission process necessary for atomic detonations, Kyodo News reported (see GSN, Sept. 17, 2010).