If a nuclear weapon is tested, will we know?
Yes, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization has the technical capability of distinguishing a nuclear explosion from, for example, an earthquake. This agency has established a series of monitoring sites for seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide monitoring. All data is both analyzed in the International Data Centre in Vienna and shared rapidly with member states. Their excellent website with a clear explanation of the verification regime now in place can be found at: ctbto.org
Go here for videos on the different types of verification methods that are used to ensure we know with certainty when a nuclear explosion has occurred.
How many nuclear weapon test explosions have taken place?
2053 nuclear weapons have been exploded
(2007 Yearbook, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute):
US and Russia/USSR: approximatelly 90%
France, UK and China: approximately 9%
Israel, India and Pakistan: remainder
Multimedia presentation on the number of nuclear tests conducted:
“1945 – 1998” by Isao Hashimoto
Nuclear testing since 1945:
How The World Nuked Itself Over 2,000 Times
Map showing locations of test explosions
An agreement to ban testing
Testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water was banned in 1963:
(Partial Test Ban Treaty). See: http://fas.org/nuke/control/ltbt/index.html
Underground testing of nuclear weapons was banned on September 24, 1996 under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (the CTBT). See: http://www.fas.org/nuke/control/ctbt/text/ctbt1.htm
BUT, the CTBT will not enter into force until 44 states ratify it – including India and Pakistan.
AND the spirit of the CTBT prohibition has not been respected by the United States as they have continued modernization of weapons through
subcritical tests or
Despite the fact the Treaty has not entered into force, funding has been secured for the Preparatory Commission of the CTBT Organization. Much of the monitoring required pursuant to the Treaty is already occurring. For more information go to: http://www.ctbto.org