MUMBAI: Nuclear-armed nations are not just upgrading their atomic weapons, but also possibly planning a test explosion, and India and Pakistan, too, “may seek any opportunity to test another nuclear device”, says a report in the current issue of ‘Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists’, a journal started in 1945 by Albert Einstein and scientists associated with the Manhattan Project — the design and development of the first atomic bomb.
The report has been prepared by Francois Diaz-Maurin, scientific adviser to the European Parliament on nuclear affairs, and a nuclear security expert.
According to the report, despite an international treaty banning nuclear detonations, the issue of nuke weapons testing “is taking centre stage” once again. Satellite imagery has shown increased construction activities happening since 2021 at nuclear testing sites in US, Russia and China — the three biggest nuclear powers in the world, the report says.
“Also watching are India and Pakistan — countries whose latest tests were conducted in 1998 and who haven’t signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT),” says the report.
India and Pakistan last carried out nuclear tests in May 1998. After this, India declared a moratorium on further testing, which many Indian nuclear scientists felt was unnecessary and a hasty move.
The scientists told TOI that the moratorium can be lifted any time if the situation warrants and the need arises.
According to the report, experts believe that Russia and China are currently expanding underground tunnels at their nuclear test sites of Novaya Zemlya and Lop Nur, respectively. Russia withdrew its ratification of CTBT last Nov.
In US, the National Nuclear Security Administration is expanding the Nevada Test Site to improve the diagnostic capabilities for the management and performance of the US nuclear stockpile, without the need to conduct any more underground nuclear explosive tests.
“But, at the same time, US maintains a policy of readiness, by which the country is prepared to conduct a nuclear test within six months should one of its adversaries conduct one,” the report points out.
North Korea, the only country to have tested nuclear weapons in the 21st century, is ready to conduct another underground nuke test — its seventh — and is only awaiting a political decision by its leader Kim Jong-Un to do so.
Another report in the same journal says Iran has shown its technical capability to join the nuclear club and South Korea and Saudi Arabia say they can develop nuclear weapons in response to regional nuclear threats.


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