A quick update on possible preparations for nuclear testing and suspicions of preparations for nuclear testing. Previous post here.
Jeffrey Lewis and the folks at CNS supplied CNN with interpretations of overhead photos showing activity at Russian, Chinese, and US test sites. Given that much of the activity at the US test site in Nevada has to do with an enormous expansion of subcritical underground tests, one might expect similar things are happening at the other two. Lewis notes some of the differences in activity supporting the two kinds of tests.
The Secretary of Energy, in a tweet I can’t find, said that the US has no plans for a nuclear explosive test.
Update: It was NNSA Administrator Jill Hruby. Thanks to Chris Casilli!
Now a statement from Mikhail Kovalchuk, President of Kurchatov Institute National Research Center, says that Russia also is not planning for a nuclear explosive test, but if the US tests, Russia will test too, to preserve deterrence.
If the US were to test, the rationale would likely be that a test is needed to validate the substitutions of updated components into stockpile weapons or that a slight reconfiguration to meet military needs, not a new weapon, needs to be tested. The deterrence part would go unspoken. Russia has gone in the opposite direction.
It certainly does look like everyone is daring everyone else to go first. Back in 1958 through 1961, there was a moratorium between the US and Russia (starting around 4:00) and then a resumption of tests around 4:30 in Isao Hashimoto’s graphic depiction of all the world’s nuclear explosions.
If one country breaks the moratorium, it’s likely to look like that this time around, with China joining in.
In line with my other recent writing, would anyone like to venture a gendered interpretation?
Cross-posted to Nuclear Diner