American and Soviet scientists announced Wednesday they will be working jointly on simulated nuclear explosions in the Nevada desert to test capabilities in verifying a ban on underground weapons testing.
The private, non-government experiment will be conducted later this month by representatives of the Natural Resources Defense Council, a non-profit environmental protection organization, and the Soviet Academy of Sciences.The detonations of up to 15 tons of TNT are scheduled to take place April 29 and will be monitored jointly by U.S. and Soviet scientists at seismic stations around the Nevada Test Site, America's principal nuclear weapons test facility.
The private U.S. team already has held a series of similar experiments in the Soviet Union, most recently last September.
Thomas Cochran, the council's senior staff scientist, said the experiments should generate important data on verification capabilities crucial in the event the two superpowers agree to ban underground nuclear testing.
Jacob Scherr, the council's senior staff attorney, told a news conference it is the first time Soviet Academy scientists have been permitted by the U.S. government to go out into the field in Nevada and work side by side with American scientists.
"We are very pleased with the State Department visa decision which removed a major impediment to our full cooperation with the Soviet Academy," he said. "At last, the Soviet seismologists have been accorded the same latitude to conduct research here as our scientists have enjoyed for almost two years in the Soviet Union."