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Russia to Resume Under-Critical Nuclear Tests on Novaya Zemlya

Russia to Resume Under-Critical Nuclear Tests on Novaya Zemlya 05.10.2012
Text: Lenta.ru
Photo: Matochkin Shar. novozemelets.livejournal.com
Russia will resume non-nuclear explosion tests at the Matochkin Shar Range on the Novaya Zemlya islands, reports Jane's referring to Russian state-led corporation Rosatom. Such tests are held to evaluate combat effectiveness of Russian nuclear weapons and maintain safety of its long-term storage. Tests of this kind do not transgress the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty signed by Russia in Sept 1996.

Non-nuclear explosion test also known as under-critical nuclear test is a special detonation of nuclear warheads with plutonium and uranium isotopes when nuclear energy does not release. During such experiments, a chemical explosive is detonated which blast wave envelopes samples of fissile materials having different storage period and nuclear charge fragments. Such tests make possible to study physical processes happening in nuclear charges at the instant of explosion.

Advantage of those tests is that there is neither environment contamination nor radioactive releases. Experts obtain an opportunity to determine remaining storage life of nuclear warheads and verify their reliability. The Matochkin Shar range is the most appropriate site for such tests as it is located in strait at the depth of 12 meters, has anchoring berths and abrupt coast around. In the US, analogous tests are held under the Pollux program at Nevada nuclear range.

Nuclear test range on the Novaya Zemlya islands also known as "Object 700" was established in 1954. It comprises three assets for surface, subsurface, submarine, and air nuclear tests: Chyornaya Guba, Matochkin Shar, and D-P. The latest test with nuclear energy release took place at the range in 1990. In total, 130 nuclear explosions have been performed at the Novaya Zemlya test range.

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