The United States is preparing to test nuclear weapons stockpiles underground. The peculiarity of the tests is that there will be no real explosions during them, writes Quartz.
According to scientists responsible for the readiness of the US nuclear arsenal to be used if necessary, key components for such tests will be shipped to the Nevada desert next year.
This is the $1.8 billion Scorpius project. In 2027, it is expected to go beyond computer modeling and study in more detail the conditions that arise at the final stage of the explosion. But the explosion itself will not occur.
Scientists call such tests “tickling the dragon’s tail.” During these tests, scientists hope to get answers to whether the country’s aging nuclear weapons are working as intended.
The project has been under development for several years. But now the US Department of Energy has announced that it is entering a new stage. In New Mexico, they began assembling the high-energy electron beam injector, which is considered the most complex part of Scorpius.
This machine is expected to help specialists conduct the necessary tests. It will be similar in size to a football field. First, it will be assembled on the surface, which will last until 2025. And then it will be placed 304 meters underground.
“If you had a car in a garage for 30 to 50 years and one day you insert the ignition key, how confident are you that it will start?” The scientists explain the goal of the project. “That’s how old our nuclear deterrent is. It has been more than 30 years since we conducted an underground nuclear explosive test.”
As a reminder, in the United States, experts from national defense laboratories could not physically confirm the effectiveness and reliability of nuclear warheads after the 1992 ban on underground testing.