U.S., Britain Conduct Joint Nuclear Test

Message posted by gary on February 16, 2002 at 18:01:00 PST:

U.S., Britain Conduct Joint Nuclear Test

Friday, February 15, 2002; Page A02

The United States and Britain yesterday conducted their first joint nuclear experiment allowed under the global Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, officials said. The test was conducted deep underneath the Nevada desert.

Officials said the subcritical nuclear experiment was aimed at maintaining the safety and reliability of both nations' atomic weapons without resorting to underground nuclear blasts. In a subcritical test, there is no nuclear explosion. Scientists can use the experiments to draw conclusions about materials such as plutonium.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said the experiment took place about 960 feet beneath the Earth's surface at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (4:30 p.m. EST) at the Nevada Test Site, 85 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Subcritical nuclear experiments are allowed under the treaty signed by 165 countries, including Britain and the United States.

The Bush administration has refused to forward the treaty to Congress for ratification and did not attend a global conference in November 2001 on the treaty's entry into force.

Some critics have argued subcritical tests could allow the United States to develop new warhead designs.

2002 The Washington Post Company

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