Nuclear Tension Escalates: US Conducts Test, Await Response from Russia

For the first time since September 2021, the United States has conducted a "subcritical" test. Meanwhile, Russia has announced plans to conduct exercises with tactical nuclear weapons when 'deemed necessary.'

Publication: 20.05.2024 - 15:36
Nuclear Tension Escalates: US Conducts Test, Await Response from Russia
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The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), a division of the US Department of Energy, announced last Tuesday that it successfully conducted a 'subcritical' nuclear test at the 'Primary Underground Laboratory for Subcritical Experiments' (PULSE) facility in the Nevada desert.

A subcritical nuclear test is conducted to determine whether nuclear material can be compressed to a certain level using explosives. However, the compressed nuclear material does not reach the critical point that triggers a chain reaction, thus no nuclear explosion occurs.

The United States has not conducted an actual nuclear explosion test since 1992. However, during the Obama administration, four subcritical tests were conducted, three during the Trump administration, and including the test conducted last Tuesday during the Biden administration.

A US official, who requested anonymity, stated that the Biden administration plans to increase the frequency of subcritical tests.


In a statement issued on Monday, the Kremlin announced that exercises involving tactical nuclear weapons ordered by President Vladimir Putin would be conducted "when the time comes," noting that this is a matter concerning the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Earlier this month, Putin instructed his military to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in response to what he claimed were threats from France, the UK, and the US.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov addressed questions regarding the exercises, stating, "This is a matter for the Ministry of Defense to address. There is an order from the Commander-in-Chief, and it will be executed when the time comes."

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov noted that they are closely monitoring US nuclear tests.


The Governor of Nagasaki Prefecture in Japan protested the subcritical nuclear test conducted by the US in Nevada.

Governor Oishi Kengo, in a letter sent to US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel on Saturday, stated that the test would further accelerate the nuclear arms race.

He urged the US to halt all tests contributing to the use or development of nuclear weapons.