Are underground nuclear tests safe?

The effects of an underground nuclear test can vary depending on factors such as the depth and performance of the explosion, as well as the nature of the surrounding rock. If the test is carried out at a sufficient depth, the test is said to be contained, without venting gases or other contaminants to the environment. In its preamble, the treaty banning nuclear weapons recognizes the disproportionate impact of nuclear weapons activities on indigenous peoples. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is a coalition of non-governmental organizations in one hundred countries that promote adherence to and implementation of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

These monitors were originally designed to detect radionuclides that were released after the detonation of a nuclear weapon. Some studies and evaluations, including an evaluation by Arjun Makhijani of the health effects of nuclear weapons complexes, estimate that cancer deaths due to global radiation doses from nuclear test programmes in the atmosphere of the five nuclear-weapon States amount to hundreds of thousands. When North Korea conducts an underground nuclear test, a wide range of global sensors will detect detonation almost immediately. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) The CTBT is a legally binding global ban on the testing of nuclear explosives.

Recognizing that even underground tests caused serious damage, and eager to end the era of nuclear testing, the international community adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996.Of the more than 2,000 nuclear detonations since 1945, 75% of the explosions have been tests carried out underground, largely by the major nuclear powers of the United States, the former Soviet Union (now Russia), Great Britain, France and China, according to the CTBTO.

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