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Russia beefs up its sub-critical non-nuclear experiments at its top secret far remote Novaya Zemlya site.

12th Directorate beefs up support facilities at nuclear test site, Russian Defence Ministry’s 12th Directorate talks public about ongoing subcritical experiments with nuclear warheads material at Novaya Zemlya. Barents Observer, By Thomas Nilsen  June 07, 2021

The Defence Ministry’s own TV channel Zvezda on Sunday broadcasted a nearly 40 minutes long unique documentary about one of Russia’s top-secret military units, the Central Test Site at Novaya Zemlya.

Established in the mid-1950s, a total of 132 nuclear weapon tests are carried out at the archipelago in the period until October 24th 1990. Much less is told about the activities after President Mikhael Gorbachev the year after announced a unilateral nuclear test moratorium.

“Non-nuclear experiments are being carried out to confirm the reliability of the existing nuclear ammunition,” said the head of the Defence Ministry’s 12th Main Directorate, Major General Igor Kolesnikov, from his office in Moscow.

Non-nuclear experiments do not mean that weapons-grade material is not included. Simply, it means experiments are carried out but with no nuclear yield.

For example, such a test could include a small portion of plutonium, enough to explode, but not enough to reach a critical mass and therefore not create a self-sustaining chain reaction, or a nuclear bang. The effects of a full-size bang are then validated in advanced computer simulations.

Subcritical tests are done for two main purposes, determine the status of ageing plutonium warheads or aimed at developing new warheads.

“I must say that the United States is doing the same, they are also conducting similar experiments in Nevada,” Kolesnikov said in the interview with TV Zvezda.

Sub-critical tests are allowed under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). However, carrying out such tests in tunnels deep into the mountains in the far remote Novaya Zemlya have caused speculations that real, although very small, nuclear explosions could happen without the global network of monitoring stations would be able to detect it.

The Major General, though, said only non-nuclear explosive experiments take place at Novaya Zemlya…………… https://thebarentsobserver.com/en/nuclear-safety/2021/06/12th-directorate-beefs-support-facilities-nuclear-test-site

June 8, 2021 - Posted by | Russia, weapons and war

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