CATALOG OF WORLDWIDE NUCLEAR TESTING

 

V.N. Mikhailov

Editor-in-Chief

 

LA. Andryushin, N.P. Voloshin, R.I. Ilkaev, A.M. Matushchenko, L.D. Ryabev, V.G. Strukov, A.K. Chernyshev, and Yu.A. Yudin

Authors

 

begell-atom, llc

 

1. CLASSIFICATION OF NUCLEAR TESTS IN THE UNIFIED CATALOGUE

In classifying nuclear tests in the Unified Catalog, we basically used the system accepted in the book USSR Nuclear Weapons Tests and Peaceful

Nuclear Explosions. 1949 through 1990.

The identification of an event as either an air or underwater nuclear explosion regarding its time and location is obvious since every such device

was exploded individually.

For similar identification of an event as an underground nuclear explosion we used the terms of underground nuclear test and underground peaceful explosion defined in the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (1974 ) and its protocol, and in the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (1976) signed by the

USSR and the USA .

In accordance with these documents, for underground nuclear weapons tests:

the term explosion means release of the nuclear energy from an explosive canister;

the term underground nuclear test means either a single underground nuclear explosion conducted at a test site or two or more underground nuclear explosions conducted at a test site within an area delineated by a circle having a diameter of two kilometers and conducted within a total period of time 0.1 second. The yield of a test is the aggregate yield of all explosions in this test.

For underground peaceful nuclear explosions:

the term explosion means any nuclear peaceful explosion;

. the term salvo explosion means two or more separate explosions where a period of time between successive individual explosions does not exceed 5 seconds and where the burial points of all explosive devices can be connected by segments of straight lines, each of them connecting two burial points and does not exceed 40 kilometers in length.

The list does not include the experiments with nuclear energy release of about 1 t of TNT equivalent or less, except for the tests resulted in device failures and those carried out to study the emergencies. These tests are laboratory explosive experiments involving fissile materials and should not be defined as nuclear weapons tests. According to the American classification, such experiments are called hydronuclear experiments. About 100 such experiments were conducted by the USSR mainly with a typical nuclear energy release of no more (or considerably less) than 100 kg of TNT equivalent.

Also note that the presented catalogue does not include experiments with fissile and nuclear materials conducted at nuclear test sites that were not related to detonations of nuclear devices and attainment of explosive chain reactions and chain reactions in general. According to the American classification, these experiments are referred to as hydrodynamic experiments. This category of experiments pertains to laboratory research into material properties and non-nuclear process characteristics.

The Unified Catalog includes 2049 nuclear tests listed in the chronological order. If nuclear tests of the different states took place on the same day, they are placed in the following order: at first tests of the United States, then the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France, and China. Nuclear tests of the same state that took place on the same day are placed in the order of their occurrence. This approach is determined by the lack of information regarding exact times of many nuclear explosions. Dates for all tests listed in this book correspond to Greenwi ch Civil Time. Each test has been assigned a number according to the specified chronological order (column No.).

The column Nation of the catalogue attributes each test to a nuclear-weapon state that conducted this test,

Please note, that the United Kingdom did not have its own test site for underground nuclear testing and used the Nevada test site for these purposes, Although these nuclear tests were conducted jointly by the United States and the United Kingdom, they are referred to as nuclear tests of the United Kingdom, because they were carried out in the interests of the UK nuclear program,

In the column Name the name of a nuclear test is given. Such names were traditionally given to all nuclear tests of the United States , lie United Kingdom , and France . In the USSR , names were given to peaceful nuclear explosions and only rarely to nuclear weapons tests, The overwhelming majority of USSR nuclear tests had no name. In this case the identification of nuclear tests was made, as a rule, by date and location, and for underground nuclear tests by the designation of a tunnel or a shaft, There are no names for nuclear tests of the People's Republic of China .

Both the Soviet Union and the United States carried out salvo nuclear tests. There is no information regarding the use of salvo nuclear testing technologies by other nuclear-weapon states, In the Unified Catalog each nuclear detonation included in a salvo nuclear test has its own number, which consist of the number of the nuclear test and the number of the explosion within this test, In the U.S., there was a practice to give a name to each nuclear explosion in a salvo nuclear test; these are also given in the catalogue,

In the column Location the geographic location where each nuclear test was conducted is specified. For the USSR the names of these locations correspond to the period of the Soviet Union existence.

For the main areas of testing the following abbreviations are used:

NTS Nevada test site, USA , Nevada ;

STS Semipalatinsk test site, USSR , Kazakh SSR (now Kazakhstan );

NZTS Novaya Zemlya test site, USSR , RSFSR (now Russia );

MTR Missile test range, USSR , RSFSR (now Russia ).

In the column Type the following classification is used for the types of nuclear tests:

SGE Ground-surface explosion. In terms of physical criteria relating to the radiological-ecological effects, this category includes all nuclear tests with the scaled height of burst (HOB) of no more than 35 m/kt 1/3 ;

AE Air explosion. The nuclear tests in the atmosphere with the scaled HOB of no less than 100 m/kt 1 ' 3 (under these conditions the expanding fireball does not touch the ground surface). Within this category, we distinguish;

HAE High-altitude explosion. Nuclear tests for which the fireball size is comparable with the characteristic size of atmosphere inhomogeneity (about 7 km ) and

SPE Space explosion. Nuclear tests for which the effect on environment is essentially influenced by hydrodynamic effects and the magnetic field of the Earth;

SE-AE An intermediate category between the ground (or water) surface and air explosions determined by a range of the scaled heights of burst from 35 to 100 m/kt 1/3 ;

SWE Water- surface explosion. Nuclear test when a nuclear device is detonated on the water's surface;

UWE Underwater explosion. Nuclear test when a nuclear device is detonated below the water's surface;

UGE Underground explosion. Nuclear test when a nuclear device is detonated below the earth's surface.

The ground-surface, air, water-surface, and intermediate nuclear explosions are included in a separate group of atmospheric nuclear tests. In the column Method the following classification is used for different methods used to conduct nuclear tests:

Surface A nuclear test with a nuclear device placed on or close to the earth's surface (a stand, a carriage, etc.);

Tower A nuclear test with a nuclear device mounted at the top of a test tower;

Airdrop A nuclear test with a nuclear device dropped from an aircraft (a bomb, a container, etc.);

Balloon A nuclear test with a nuclear device suspended and exploded from a balloon;

Barge A nuclear test with a nuclear device exploded from a barge (ship);

Torpedo A nuclear test with a nuclear device placed within a torpedo;

Moored container A nuclear test with a nuclear device exploded in a special moored container;

Airburst A nuclear test with a nuclear device fired from a cannon;

Rocket A nuclear test with a nuclear device launched by rocket;

Tunnel A nuclear test in a mined horizontal drift;

Shaft A nuclear test in a drilled vertical hole;

Crater An underground explosion that is shallow enough to produce a crater.

 

Tunnels and shafts where Soviet underground nuclear tests were conducted had special indexes that are also presented in the catalogue. They help to distinguish different nuclear tests. Some tests conducted at different test sites had the same index of a tunnel or a shaft. In this case the date and location of the test allow to distinguish such tests. In the practice of nuclear testing in the USSR , some underground tests were conducted in the part of a tunnel that remained intact after a previous nuclear explosion. In this case letter "P" was added to the index of the tunnel.

For some nuclear tests the values for heights of burst or depths of burial are given in meters in the column Height/Depth.

Salvo nuclear tests were carried out both in the same and in separate tunnels or shafts. For U.S. salvo nuclear tests there are special commentaries in the column Comment explaining whether a salvo test was conducted in the same hole or in separate holes. For USSR salvo nuclear tests the indexes of tunnels or shafts given in the column Method allows easily distinguish different explosions.

In the column Purpose the following classification is used for the purpose of nuclear tests:

WR nuclear weapons related tests (weapon development or modification).

SE safety experiments (studies of accidental modes and emergencies).

WE weapons effects tests (studies of effects of a nuclear explosion on military and civilian systems and equipment).

FMS fundamental and methodical studies of the phenomena of a nuclear explosion.

ME military exercise with a real nuclear detonation.

IPE industrial underground peaceful nuclear explosions and testing of peaceful nuclear explosion (PNE) technologies.

PDD peaceful nuclear device development.

WF combat use of nuclear weapons.

In some cases the testing of a nuclear device pursued several purposes. In that case only one purpose that was essential for a given experiment was used as test identification. Classification by purpose was also used for individual detonations of a salvo nuclear test.

In the column Yield exact nuclear energy release values are presented when this information is available. For other nuclear explosions the following classification by energy release range is used:

< 0.001 no nuclear energy release or nuclear explosions with energy release below 1t of TNT equivalent;

0.001- 20 nuclear explosions with energy release within the range from 1 t to 20 kt;

< 5 no nuclear energy release or nuclear explosions with energy release below 5 kt; 5 - 20 nuclear explosions with energy release within the range from 5 kt to 20 kt;

< 20 no nuclear energy release or nuclear explosions with energy release below 20 kt; 20-150 nuclear explosions with energy release within the range from 20 kt to 150 kt;

20 - 200 nuclear explosions with energy release within the range from 20 kt to 200 kt;

200 -1 ,000 nuclear explosions with energy release within the range from 200 kt to 1,000 kt;

150 - 1,500 nuclear explosions with energy release within the range from 150 kt to 1,500 kt;

1,500 - 10,000 nuclear explosions with energy release within the range from 1,500 kt to 10,000 kt;

> = 10,000 nuclear explosions with energy release exceeding 10,000 kt.

The classification by yield range was applied both to nuclear tests and to individual nuclear explosions of salvo nuclear tests. The choice of yield ranges for classification was determined by data available in open sources.

In the column Comment the distinctive features or brief additional information are given for some nuclear tests. Such notes, in particular, include information whether, for the U.S. nuclear testing program, nuclear tests were carried out by the Department of Defense (DoD); the program of peaceful nuclear explosions (Program Plowshare); or the nuclear test detection program (Program Vela Uniform).

When there are no data on some characteristics of a nuclear test, the word Unknown appears in the appropriate column of the catalogue except for unknown values of heights and depths of explosions in the column Depth/Height.