U.S. asks Russia about 'seismic event'
Moscow denies nuclear test took place
August 28, 1997
Web posted at: 5:25 p.m. EDT (2125 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The United States said Thursday it
detected a "seismic event" 12 days ago in the vicinity of a
Russian nuclear test site and was trying to determine whether
Russia broke a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear test
Moscow denied it had carried out a nuclear test at Novaya
Zemlya, located above the Arctic Circle and northeast of
"I don't know what seismic activity they're talking about,"
said a spokesman for Russia's Atomic Energy Ministry.
"Russia has voluntarily given up nuclear testing and sticks
to this position."
A spokesman for the U.S. Defense Department's Joint Chiefs of
Staff said the August 16 "event" had "explosive
characteristics." But, he added, the United States is "not
able to determine at this point whether it was a nuclear
"We are in contact with the Russians on the matter and are
still analyzing the data," the spokesman said.
If confirmed, a blast could fuel opposition in the
Republican-led Senate to ratification of the Comprehensive
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which would bar tests of nuclear
To become international law, complete with the mechanics of
monitoring and enforcement, the treaty must be signed by all
44 countries known to possess nuclear reactors and ratified
by their legislatures.
All five of the declared nuclear weapons powers -- the United
States, Britain, China, France and Russia -- have signed the
Anticipating the moratorium on testing, China exploded a
nuclear bomb underground on July 29, 1996, and vowed that it
would be the last. France conducted its last test in January
1996. Britain had stopped earlier.
The United States began its moratorium in October 1992 but
has considered staging plutonium experiments of a new and
different kind. Critics said such tests would violate the
moratorium and the test ban treaty that President Clinton
signed in September 1996.
The proposed U.S. tests would be carried out nearly 1,000
feet below the Nevada desert floor in a complex of tunnels
used for explosions less than one-tenth of 1 percent as large
as conventional nuclear tests.
Correspondent Eileen O'Connor and Reuters contributed to this