Russia is believed to have the largest stockpile of nuclear weapons in the world, but the weapons are getting older, and with age come security and safety challenges. The only still-existing test area is Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic.
Sources in Rosatom say to Nezavisimaya Gazeta it is possible that so-called subcritical nuclear experiments will be resumed to check if the weapons still are safe.
Subcritical nuclear tests contain the ingredients of a nuclear warhead, plutonium or uranium, but fizzle out without any thermonuclear blast. If everything goes well such tests are not accompanied by radioactive emissions. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty does not prohibit subcritical tests, a fact many other countries except Russia and USA has criticized.
In addition to determine safety and reliability of older nuclear warheads, subcritical tests can also be used to develop new generations of warheads.
Last known series of subcritical tests on Novaya Zemlya took place in the years 1998 to 2000. Russia’s unofficial announcement hinted in the Nezavisimaya Gazeta last Friday could come as a response to a U.S. subcritical test announced to blast off later this autumn. The test, named “Pollux” will be “first-of-a-kind demonstration” combining a subcritical test with plutonium-239. Centre for Research and Globalization writes in an analytic article that “what we’re seeing in real-time in September 2012 is a replay of 1998.”
The 1998 to 2000 series of subcritical tests in the tunnels at Novaya Zemlya took place simultaneously as US was ramping up their rates of subcritical nuclear tests.
Another sign that Russia is “up-to-something” at the test range at Novaya Zemlya is the closure of civilian air-traffic to the Rogachevo airport. The airport serves the nuclear test field located in the Matochkin Strait, dividing the northern and southern islands. Last week, BarentsObserver reported about Russia’s plans to base a group of supersonic interceptor Mig-31 aircraft at the same airfield.
The last real nuclear weapon underground detonation took place at Novaya Zemlya on October 24, 1990.
Russia’s only aircraft carrier, the Northern Fleet’s “Admiral Kuznetsov”, has finished repairs and is ready to leave the port of Murmansk. According to a Russian news agency, the vessel will sail to Syria.
A century and a half ago, Norway was home to roughly three thousand brown bears, the majority of bears in all of Scandinavia. By 1930, the bears were virtually extinct. Decades of aggressive management tactics and bounties had wiped out one of the area’s most iconic species.
Microplastics, the tiny plastic particles that are accumulating in marine waters and big lakes around the world, are now showing up in the Arctic waters south and southwest of Svalbard, Norway, a new study says.
REYKJAVIK: The climatic changes taking place in the Arctic are a call to action for the world. We must answer with more international cooperation and more research, says Tore Hattrem, State Secretary of Norway’s Foreign Ministry.
“Partnership should and shall shape the development of the Arctic, therefore cooperation is the starting point for our Arctic policy,” Vladimir Barbin, Senior Arctic Official and representative to the Arctic Council, said at the Arctic Circle 2015 assembly.
August 9th, the Barents Region celebrated the UN International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The day was commemorated in several parts of the region, including Karasjok in Northern Norway and Teriberka in Northwestern Russia.
Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende has asked Russia for an explanation to the high number of asylum seekers coming to Norway via Russia. Syrian refugees that have lived in Russia for a long time, will be stopped on the border and sent back.