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Identification of Concealed Nuclear Explosions


Study of Possibilities for Identifying Concealed Explosions in Seismically Active Mountain Country with Commercial Explosions: Selection of Experiment Configuration and Issue of Documentation for Project

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MIN/Monitoring and Instrumentation/Environment
  • ENV-SEM/Seismic Monitoring/Environment

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
VNIITF, Russia, Chelyabinsk reg., Snezhinsk

Supporting institutes

  • Kyrgyz-Russian Slavonic University, Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek\nInstitute of Dynamics of the Geosphere, Russia, Moscow

Project summary

Most of the States Parties signing CTBT believe that the main condition of the Treaty’s entry into force will be its effective control. Creation of the verification system for threshold Treaty is very complicated problem requiring the solution of many conceptual, methodological and technical issues using International Monitoring System on the basis of seismic, radionuclide, acoustic and subsonic station net and also using the on-site inspection (OSI) technologies.
At present the standpoint about the necessity of attentive control over nuclear activities for the purpose of revealing if the Party conducts any concealed nuclear tests is prevailing in the public opinion. The events around the earthquake in the Kara Sea in 1997, that have been wrongly interpreted as a concealed nuclear test conducted by Russia, are the bright confirmation.
This standpoint seems to be wrong. In modern conditions it is practically impossible for such nuclear-weapon states as Russia and USA to conduct series of tests including explosions rather powerful for recording. These states have wide bases of experimental data, therefore it is unlikely that a single concealed low-power test will bring results sufficient for the development of new weapon that will be made in the case of nuclear test lack or full absence On the other hand the reveling of such CTBT violation will adversely affect on the international authority of the State.
On the contrary, unit even low-power nuclear tests can be sufficient for any state standing on the course of nuclear militarization. Such experiments bring confidence in the correctness of the first tests and allow to progress. Recently conducted nuclear tests confirm and illustrate these conclusions In this case we see that concealed preparation of nuclear tests in the modern conditions is possible, even though the state is thought to be near threshold nuclear state and some attention is drawn to it.
At present seismic monitoring is considered as the most effective way for control, it enables us to detect region seismic-explosive events reliably. But application of seismic methods can be sufficiently limited by difficulties associated with incorrect determination of seismic oscillation source and confident identification of seismic events in the case of their similar nature. The problem is especially acute at the detection, determination of coordinates and identification of low-power seismic events, when conditions in the location of seismic signal formation and recording and also properties of geological medium at its propagation path aren’t favorable for effective excitation and propagation of signal.
Rocks create possibility for concealed conduct of nuclear tests. The problem of concealing is simplified if the state has mountainous seismically active territory. Commercial explosive activities in this region can serve for the test concealing, therefore against the background of such activity it is possible to conceal the nuclear explosion.
In this connection it is necessary to perform goal-seeking research associated firstly with determination of the rules of seismic source formation in the geological conditions indicated above and secondly- with calibration of seismic paths. It is necessary to consider rather large explosion of chemical HE as the most effective way for studying the parameters of seismic source and for calibrating seismic paths. In this case in the conditions of controlled undermining at the correct selection of the site we can receive important information about the rules of seismic wave propagation. These data will be of great importance in the case of the correct selection of the controlling seismic net parameters.
We propose to substantiate and determine the configuration for the explosion of chemical HE in the conditions of Kirghizia, which is mountain country with increased seismic activity, where commercial explosions of perse power are conducted. Developed seismic net, which is recently upgraded with the help of foreign scientists, is remained and operated in Kirghizia. There are some international projects, among them ISTC Project #KR155, directed on maintenance and development of national seismic research.
The experiment can be conducted using worked out horizontal holes located near the sources of the increased seismic activity. The explosion yield must be in the range from 100 to 1000 t, the value will be defined more exactly depending on the specific conditions of the experiment under the criterion of obtained information sufficiency. Recording of the seismic events will be implemented both by local seismic net of Kirgizia and by the stations of Kazakhstan, Russia and other states.
An assumption that intensive wave effect on massive can lead to the programmed selective release of stresses is additional positive argument in the support of the powerful explosive experiment conduct in the seismically dangerous region, at this time seismic conditions in the region are temporally improved.
The abilities of the Project participants are confirmed by the results of activities and research on the development and implementation of the mechanism for ensuring the compliance with international Treaties and Agreements, first and foremost at the preparation of the Joint Verification Experiment (JVE) and at the implementation of control activities in respect to the Treaty on the Limitation of Underground Nuclear Weapon Tests (TTBT).
Proposed Project refers to the category of technology development in the domain of systematic application of scientific research results with the goal of technologies or concepts substantiation including development of prototypes and industry processes.
We plan to use the technology developed within the proposed Project further after the issue of the project documentation and conduct of the official expert’s opinion, for preparation and conduct of the explosive experiment at the commercial facility in Kirghizia.
Urgency of the activities is due to the necessity for conducting research on possibility for detecting concealed underground explosion in the conditions of mountain state with increased seismic activity and developed commercial work.
At the technology development the Project participants take into account that their rights on intellectual property during activities will be protected and regulated pursuant to the national legislation and procedures developed by ISTC.
Scientific-technical documentation (technical requirements to the facility equipment, program of physical measurements, manual for method application and so on), necessary for practical implementation of explosive experiment in specific conditions, will be developed as a result of the Project.


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