60 years after first nuclear test: China is secretly rebuilding its nuclear weapons base

60 years after the first nuclear test
China is secretly rebuilding its nuclear weapons base

By Kevin Schulte

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China is testing nuclear weapons again. The regime has refloated an old test site, the New York Times reported, citing satellite images. What is the relationship between Russia and America?

Loeb Noor is a huge area, bigger than Austria. Not something ordinary: dry The Salt Lake in northwest China is a nuclear weapons test site. Between 1964 and 1996, 45 underground and underground nuclear tests were conducted in the barren and desolate area. They won't be the last, because 60 years after the first test, China is secretly rebuilding the test site.

It seems that it has been a long time since the works started. The New York Times reported earlier this year that the US Secret Service had been “following the resurgence of Lop Nor for years.” revealed. The newspaper's reporters rely on satellite images to report “more clear signs” of new Chinese ambitions to retest nuclear weapons.

Since Xi Jinping came to power in China in 2013, the site in the country's western Xinjiang province has been upgraded. According to the New York Times, the site, consisting of only “a few buildings,” has become a “state-of-the-art complex” for nuclear weapons testing. A clear indication that shafts hundreds of meters deep have been drilled. They block the deadly radiation from a nuclear explosion. Further CNN He informed about tunnel digging.

“Maybe they should do something exotic.”

What exactly China plans to do with Lob Nor is unclear. Nuclear experts in the New York Times say the attack points to a major modernization drive to increase the effectiveness of China's rapidly growing missile forces. It is also possible that Beijing wants to conduct a nuclear test to send a signal. During the Cold War, China tested far fewer nuclear weapons than the US and Russia.

“I know China believes they are lagging behind,” said Terry C. Wallace reports in the article. The former director of Los Alamos, America's nuclear weapons research center, explains: “They may feel that they are so far behind in experimental knowledge that they want to do something strange.”

Between 1964 and 1996, 45 nuclear weapons tests were conducted at Lob Nor. This is significantly less than the United States and Russia: Moscow ordered more than 700 test explosions during the Cold War, and the United States even ordered 1,000 nuclear weapons tests.

Then the UN for disarmament. The convention was called the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty – in 1996, global nuclear tests ended, although the treaty is still not officially in force: eight countries – including the United States and China – have not ratified it. Nevertheless, all nine nuclear powers, except North Korea, adhere to the test ban. But the hiatus, now nearly 30 years old, brings complications: The United States, Russia and China want to know whether nuclear weapons from the 1980s and 1990s are still operational. Nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis on CNN.

China “doesn't want to get off on the wrong foot”

Most nuclear experts suspect that China wants to protect itself by reactivating its test site — if Russia or the United States ever conducts another nuclear weapons test. The Chinese “don't want to get caught on the wrong foot,” wrote nuclear physicist Richard L. Garvin says.

Not only Beijing, but Washington and Moscow have also greatly expanded their nuclear test sites in recent years. This is also proven by satellite images taken at the American test site in the desert of the state of Nevada and the Russian polar island of Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic.

Moscow signed and ratified the nuclear test ban, but withdrew the ratification last year. Vladimir Putin justified the move, saying Russia should have the same opportunities as the United States. But there should be new tests only if Washington carries them out, the Kremlin leader explained. “We must behave in a mirror image in our relations with the United States.”

Nuclear tests are possible under Trump

The United States signed the treaty in the 1990s, but never ratified it. US President Donald Trump has said he can envision nuclear weapons tests in the US during his term. Republicans are still in favor of it. They were also the ones who blocked it from being approved in the Senate in 1999. Trump's second term could mean more US nuclear tests.

But even the modernization and expansion of test areas is enough to cause unrest in a generally difficult world situation. Former US General James Marks analyzes on CNN. “The challenge is that we see the potential expansion or modernization of nuclear forces during a war between Russia and Ukraine, one of these advanced nuclear powers. That's an environment that worries us all.”

But there is still no concrete evidence of an impending test — not in the Russian Arctic, the Nevada desert, or the Chinese hinterland.

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