“China May Have Secretly Set Off Low-Level Nuclear Test Blasts”: US

In yet another tussle between the world ‘s top two economies, US claims China may have secretly set off low-level nuclear test blasts.

Washington: The US State Department said in a report on Wednesday that China may have secretly set off low-level underground nuclear test explosions despite claiming to observe an international pact banning such blasts.

This claim could fuel US-Chinese tensions, yet again.

First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the finding may worsen relations already strained by the US claims that the global COVID-19 pandemic occurred from Beijing’s mishandling of a 2019 outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the central city of Wuhan.

The State Department report said that United States concerns about Beijing’s possible violations of a “zero yield” rule for test blasts have been provoked by activities at China’s Lop Nur nuclear test site during 2019.

‘Zero yield’ refers to a nuclear experiment in which there is no explosive chain reaction of the type ignited by the explosion of a nuclear warhead.

Without providing proof of a low-yield test, the report said: “China’s possible preparation to operate its Lop Nur test site year-round, its use of explosive containment chambers, extensive mining activities at Lop Nur and a lack of clarity on its nuclear testing exercises … grows concerns regarding its compliance to the zero yield standard,”

Chinese lack of clarity involved barring data transmissions from sensors connected to a monitoring centre run by the international agency that verifies adherence with a treaty forbidding nuclear test explosions.

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The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty of 1996 (CTBT) allows exercises intended to ensure the safety of nuclear weapons.

The Wall Street Journal reported a spokeswoman for the CTBT Organization telling that there had been no interruptions in data transmissions from China’s 5 sensor stations since the end of August’19 following an interruption that began in 2018.

China was committed to a moratorium on nuclear tests and said the United States was making false accusations, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing in Beijing.

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