Novaya Zemlya honors nuclear bomb testers

The new monument will honor the many people involved in Soviet-era nuclear detonations.

A monument devoted to the “creators of the Russian nuclear shield” is to be erected at Belushya Guba, the main settlement at the Novaya Zemlya.


The new monument will be placed by the local port in September this year in connection with the 60 years anniversary of the Novaya Zemlya test site. It will consist of four rocks, which are to resemble cliffs fire-polished by nuclear explosions. On each of the rocks will be depicted representatives of the four key professions at the islands; a pilot, a Navy sailor, a miner and a researcher, architect and designer Dmitry Yaskorsky said at a recent project presentation.

“Tens of thousands of people have served at the site […] what they did was a true act of bravery”, Yaskorsky underlined.

The monument will be erected with the support from the Ministry of Defence, a press release from the Arkhangelsk regional government reads.

The construction of the Novaya Zemlya nuclear test site started in 1954 and the first explosion was made in 1955. The biggest test conducted at the site was the AN601 hydrogen bomb, nicknamed the “Tsar Bomb”, a more than 50 megaton TNT explosion, the mushroom cloud of which could be seen from 160 km afar.

The largest underground test in Novaya Zemlya took place on September 12, 1973, involving four nuclear devices of 4.2 megatons total yield. A total of 224 nuclear detonations with a total explosive energy equivalent to 265 megatons of TNT were made at the archipelago, Wikipedia informs. The last detonation took place in 1990. However, the Russians have reportely continued to use the site for a series of subcritical  underwater nuclear experiments each autumn since 1998.