- WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The Pentagon's plan for a massive detonation of
conventional high explosives in Nevada to test the effectiveness of weapons
against deeply buried targets has been postponed indefinitely, officials
said on Thursday.
- The National Nuclear Security Administration,
part of the Energy Department, said it was withdrawing its finding that
the planned detonation of 700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil in
the Nevada desert would cause "no significant" environmental
impact, the agency said.
- The test, dubbed "Divine Strake,"
was sponsored by the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency and had
been slated to be held in June at the Energy Department's Nevada Test Site
in Nye County, about 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas.
- James Tegnelia, director of the Defense
Threat Reduction Agency, told reporters in Washington in March the test
would be "the first time in Nevada that you'll see a mushroom cloud
over Las Vegas since we stopped testing nuclear weapons." The last
above-ground nuclear test at the site was in 1962.
- Opponents of the test blast have expressed
concern about radioactive dust that could be spread into the air by the
detonation and filed suit in an attempt to stop it. Some activists planned
a protest outside the Nevada Test Site this weekend.
- The test was originally scheduled for
next Friday, but was then pushed back to no earlier than June 23.
- "We have no date established now,"
for the test, said Darwin Morgan, a spokesman for the National Nuclear
Security Administration in Nevada.
- "We pulled back the finding of no
significant impact so that we could further answer questions from the public
about the background radiation that exists in the test location for the
'Divine Strake' and to better answer questions about what will happen with
that background radiation as it is suspended into the dust cloud,"
- Morgan said background radiation existed
everywhere, not just the test site, and that the nearest above-ground nuclear
test to the location planned for this blast was 4 or 5 miles away, Morgan
- Pentagon officials have said the test's
primary purpose was to examine ground shock effects on deeply buried tunnel
structures, and that the explosion would take place above an existing structure.
- Pentagon leaders have expressed concern
about potential U.S. adversaries building deeply buried bunkers containing
chemical, biological or nuclear weapons stockpiles or command-and-control
structures that are difficult to destroy with existing weapons.