US Preps For Non-Explosive Underground Nuke Testing

The United States is preparing to launch a series of underground nuclear weapons tests, sans any explosion. Come this November, scientists will be readying to carry out the tests to confirm that the U.S. collection of nuclear weapons are still sufficiently working.

Plans to move the weapons to the Nevada desert later this fall are already underway.

Scientists at national defense labs haven’t been able to assess the reliability and efficacy of the U.S. nuclear warhead stockpile in 1992. This news has come as a surprise to the American public, many of whom are questioning the intentions and transparency behind it.

Back then, testing such weapons in this manner became a thing of the past when the Bush Administration banned underground testing. Now, Energy Department officials declared on Thursday that they’ve discovered a better method for such testing. It has been dubbed as “tickling the dragon’s tail.”

The Scorpius Project, defined as “a 125-meter linear induction accelerator diagnostic tool,” was “designed to generate high-speed, high-fidelity, radiographic images of contained subcritical experiences with fissionable nuclear material, specifically plutonium.”

In lay terms, it should make it possible to further understand what happens inside of a nuclear weapon just before it explodes — but without exploding it. Officials hope to launch the $1.8 billion project by 2027.

Officials at Sandia National Laboratories are working on a high-energy electron beam injector that will occupy the first 45 feet of the Scorpius machine — which is roughly the length of a football field. Officials say it will be housed some 1,000 feet underground at a location dubbed the Nevada Test Site.

Jon Custer is leading the Sandia project and explained the initiative with an analogy most of us can understand:

“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? That’s how old our nuclear deterrent is. It has been more than 30 years since we conducted an underground nuclear explosive test.”

The Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico is working to deliver plutonium cores — a critical component of any nuclear weapon.