• Location
    Aralsk region of Kzyl-Orda Oblast
  • Type
    Nuclear-Test Site
  • Facility Status

Want to dive deeper?

Visit the Education Center

According to the Kazakhstani Atomic Energy Agency, a 0.3 kT surface nuclear explosion was conducted on 2 February 1956. 1 Other sources indicate that a missile test took place at Aralsk on the same date. 2 Yet another source confirms the surface nuclear explosion on 2 February 1956 and reports an underwater nuclear explosion at Aralsk one year earlier, in February 1955. 3 Jane’s Intelligence Review has also identified Aralsk as a biological  and chemical weapons test site. 4


Biological weapon (BW)
Biological weapons use microorganisms and natural toxins to produce disease in humans, animals, or plants.  Biological weapons can be derived from: bacteria (anthrax, plague, tularemia); viruses (smallpox, viral hemorrhagic fevers); rickettsia (Q fever and epidemic typhus); biological toxins (botulinum toxin, staphylococcus enterotoxin B); and fungi (San Joaquin Valley fever, mycotoxins). These agents can be deployed as biological weapons when paired with a delivery system, such as a missile or aerosol device.
Chemical Weapon (CW)
The CW: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons defines a chemical weapon as any of the following: 1) a toxic chemical or its precursors; 2) a munition specifically designed to deliver a toxic chemical; or 3) any equipment specifically designed for use with toxic chemicals or munitions. Toxic chemical agents are gaseous, liquid, or solid chemical substances that use their toxic properties to cause death or severe harm to humans, animals, and/or plants. Chemical weapons include blister, nerve, choking, and blood agents, as well as non-lethal incapacitating agents and riot-control agents. Historically, chemical weapons have been the most widely used and widely proliferated weapon of mass destruction.


  1. Information provided to NISNP by the Kazakhstan Atomic Energy Agency, 26 October 1996. 
  2. “Known Nuclear Tests Worldwide, 1945-1995,” The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, May-June 1996, pp. 61-62. “Kazakhstan: Call For End to Russian Military Tests,” Kazakhstanskaya pravda, 11 December 1996, pp. 1,5, BIS-SOV-96-252.
  3. Smantay Tleubergenov, Poligony Kazakhstana (Almaty: Gylym, 1997), pp. 134, 527.
  4. Shirin Akiner, “Soviet Military Legacy in Kazakhstan,” Jane’s Intelligence Review, December 1994 (Updated 11/6/2000 KB), pp. 552-555.


My Resources