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Nuclear Test: The Semipalatinsk Test Site

2276 words - 10 pages

Semipalatinsk Test Site happens to be one of the largest in the world and the largest one on the territory of the former Soviet Union, and, generated by hundreds of nuclear tests, it raised issues which require solutions. I will try to cover only a few facets of the problem
First of all, I would like to reveal a fundamental contradiction in the very functioning of this test site: its usage in the arms race by the totalitarian Soviet regime without considering the security issues lead to a humanitarian disaster which took lives and health of hundreds of thousands of people.
Secondly, I will try to realize how and why social activity rose in the former Soviet Union which later lead to ...view middle of the document...

Third, the Kazakh steppe was considered by the authorities as a very convenient place sue to its availability (not far from railway) and at the same time rather isolated, situated in “wilderness” (for instance, New Land was considered very remote but difficult to reach, while Totskoye in Orenburg - too «lively» for an intensive nuclear program)
Semipalatinsk’s disadvantage was the Chinese Consulate located there, which was later moved. With the closed passport system implied that «foreign spies» would not have gotten to Semipalatinsk steppe unnoticed.
The Decree of the Council of Ministers № 2939—955 dated August 21, 1947 passed the begun construction of the test site to the military department, and the test site got a name of «Training Test Site № 2 of the Ministry of the Armed Forces of the USSR (military unit 52605)». The first head of the «Training Test Site № 2» was the participant of the Great Patriotic War, Lieutenant General of Artillery Piotr Rozhanovich, the scientific head — Deputy Director of the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the Academy of Science of the UUSR Mikhail Sadovsky, an academic later. In order to protect the territory of the test site, a number of parts was transferred, including radar units and anti-aircraft missile units to protect the landfill from reconnaissance aircraft.
The first explosion of an atomic bomb in the USSR was held on August 26, 1949. The explosive power of was 22.4 kilotons TNT.
The value of this test was politically invaluable for USSR: now Stalin could declare that the USSR, like the USA, had nuclear weapons and thus represented a commensurate threat for the USA and Western countries. With the apparition of the Soviet nuclear weapons the «Cold War» was supplemented by the nuclear weapons race, and the crazy logic of the confrontation demanded the creation of new types of atomic bombs, not only the increase of their number. That is why the test site was never vacant; to the contrary, it witnessed intensive preparation and production of nuclear explosions.
The first landfill’s explosion of thermonuclear charge with the power of 400 kilotons had a great importance for the development of military-strategic confrontation. The explosion was low in the air, the charge was placed on a special tower at the altitude of 30m above the land. As a result of this test, a part of the test site was contaminated with explosion radioactive products (in some parts of the site even now a little background can still be detected).
The appearance of thermonuclear weapons in the USSR (as well as in the USA) meant that there were no technical limits for building nuclear weapon power. Theoretically, nuclear weapons could now be created with the power sufficient to break through the Earth’s crust. The Nuclear weapons race got a larger scale and became even more acute. During the Caribbean (missile) crisis in October 1962, the nuclear weapons were almost launched – the world hardly stopped at the edge of a nuclear world...

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