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The following is a list of nuclear test series designations, organized first by country and then by date. For more information on countries with nuclear weapons, see List of countries with nuclear weapons. For more information on nuclear weapon arsenals, see List of nuclear weapons.


Nuclear tests by known nuclear countries


United States of America

The United States conducted around 1,054 nuclear tests (by official count) between 1945 and 1992. Most of the tests took place at the Nevada Test Site and the Pacific Proving Grounds in the Marshall Islands. Ten other tests took place at various locations in the United States, including Alaska, Colorado, Mississippi, and New Mexico.


Year Series No. shots Total yields Location(s) Image Notes
1945 Trinity 1 20 kt Alamogordo, New Mexico The "Trinity" fireball First ever nuclear explosion.
1946 Crossroads 2 46 kt Pacific Proving Grounds "Baker" shot First postwar test series. First underwater nuclear explosion.
1948 Sandstone 3 104 kt Pacific Proving Grounds Shot "X-Ray" of Operation Sandstone. The first use of "levitated" cores. Developed the Mark IV warhead.
1951 Ranger 5 40 kt Nevada Test Site Shot "Fox" of Operation Ranger. First tests at the Nevada Test Site.
1951 Greenhouse 4 398.5 kt Pacific Proving Grounds The "Item" fireball. "George" shot was physics experiment relating to the hydrogen bomb; "Item" shot was first boosted fission weapon.
1951 Buster-Jangle 7 71.9 kt Nevada Test Site Troops during the "Buster Dog" shot. Many shots done in conjunction with troop exercises on ground.
1952 Tumbler-Snapper 7 104 kt Nevada Test Site A "Snapper" shot shows the "rope trick effect". Operation "Snapper" tested a number of new devices, and also explored the "rope trick effect".
1952 Ivy 2 10.9 Mt Pacific Proving Grounds The "Mike" mushroom cloud. "Mike" shot was first hydrogen bomb; "King" shot was largest pure-fission bomb (500 kt).
1953 Upshot-Knothole 11 252.4 kt Nevada Test Site Shot "Grable" and the "atomic cannon". Grable shot used a 280mm M65 Atomic cannon.
1954 Castle 6 48.2 Mt Pacific Proving Grounds The "Romeo" mushroom cloud. Deployable thermonuclears. "Bravo" was over twice as large as expected (most powerful ever by U.S.) and spread fallout over a wide area. Hydrogen bombs that used cryogenic fuel were obsolete.
1955 Teapot 14 167.8 kt Nevada Test Site The "Tesla" fireball. First successful designs by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (after two years of trying).
1955 Wigwam 1 30 kt Pacific Ocean The "Wigwam" detonation. A single shot, 2000 ft underwater, to determine the vulnerability of submarines to nuclear explosions.
1955 Project 56 4 .01 to .1 kt Nevada Test Site Four 'one-point' safety tests, to ensure the safety of deployed designs.
1956 Redwing 17 20.82 Mt Pacific Proving Grounds The "Apache" detonation. All thermonuclear weapons designs tests, including first "three stage" weapon test.
1957 Plumbbob 29 343.74 kt Nevada Test Site Shot "Smoky" of Operation Plumbbob. One of the most controversial test series, release more radiation to continental U.S. than any series. Close proximity of troop exercises to shot "Smoky" produced significantly increased levels of leukemia among exposed soldiers.
1957–58 Project 57, 58, 58A 5 0.5 kt Nevada Test Site Five 'one-point' safety tests, to ensure the safety of deployed designs.
1958 Chariot Cancelled Cape Thompson, Alaska The plans to use five thermonuclear explosions to create an artificial harbor in Alaska. Had planned to create an artificial harbor in Alaska as part of Operation Plowshare using thermonuclear explosions. Was eventually cancelled amid controversy and outcry.
1958 Hardtack I 35 35.6 Mt Pacific Proving Grounds Shot "Oak" of Operation Hardtack I.
1958 Argus 3 5.1 kt South Atlantic Ocean Clandestine high-altitude test series carried out 1,110 miles southwest of South Africa to test whether nuclear explosions could create artificial Van Allen belts in near space.
1958 Hardtack II 37 45.8 kt Nevada Test Site Shot "Sorocco" of Operation Hardtack II.
1961–62 Nougat 32 Nevada Test Site, Carlsbad, New Mexico The underground cavity created by the "Gnome" shot. First all-underground test series. Included Operation Plowshare shot "Gnome" in Carlsbad, New Mexico, which was detonated in an underground salt dome.
1962–63 Dominic 36 38.1 Mt Christmas Island, Johnston Island, Central Pacific Ocean "Starfish-Prime" in the upper atmosphere. "Frigate Bird" was the only operational test of a missile "mated" with a live warhead. Series also included three high-altitude tests known as Operation Fishbowl.
1962–63 Storax 48 Nevada Test Site The "Sedan" crater. Included the "Sedan" test, a cratering experiment as part of Operation Plowshare.
1962 Sunbeam 4 2.19 kt Nevada Test Site The 1.65 kt "Small Boy" nuclear test of 1962. Test of small tactical warheads, including the man-portable "Davy Crockett". Last atmospheric test series.
1963 Roller Coaster 4 0 Nellis Air Force Range, Nevada Storage-transportation safety experiment, measured plutonium dispersal risk.


After the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, all U.S. nuclear testing became underground testing.

Year Series No. shots Total yields Location(s) Notes
1964–65 Niblick 41 Nevada Test Site
1964–65 Whetstone 48 Nevada Test Site, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
1965–66 Flintlock 48 Nevada Test Site, Amchitka, Alaska
1966–67 Latchkey 38 Nevada Test Site, Hattiesburg, Mississippi
1967–68 Crosstie 48 Nevada Test Site, Farmington, New Mexico Included "Gasbuggy" Plowshare shot near Farmington, New Mexico.
1968–69 Bowline 48 Nevada Test Site
1969 Mandrel 53 Nevada Test Site; Grand Valley, Colorado; Amchitka, Alaska Included "Rulison" Plowshare shot near Grand Valley, Colorado, and 1.2 Mt shot "Milrow" in Alaska.
1970 Emery 16 Nevada Test Site
1971–72 Grommet 34 Nevada Test Site, Amchitka, Alaska Included largest US underground detonation, the >5 mt shot "Cannikin" (for the Spartan Missile warhead) in Alaska.
1972–73 Toggle 28 Nevada Test Site, Rifle, Colorado Included Plowshare "Rio Blanco" test for gas stimulation
1973–74 Arbor 19 Nevada Test Site
1974–75 Bedrock 27 Nevada Test Site
1975–76 Anvil 21 Nevada Test Site
1976–77 Fulcrum 21 Nevada Test Site All "weapons related" tests.
1977–78 Cresset 23 Nevada Test Site
1978–79 Quicksilver 18 Nevada Test Site
1979–80 Tinderbox 15 Nevada Test Site
1980–81 Guardian 16 Nevada Test Site
1981–82 Praetorian 22 Nevada Test Site
1982–83 Phalanx 19 Nevada Test Site
1983–84 Fusileer 17 Nevada Test Site
1984–85 Grenadier 17 Nevada Test Site
1985–86 Charioteer 18 Nevada Test Site Mighty Oak test using the Mk-21 RV warhead. was conducted on April 10, 1986. Containment failed and later radiation was released. Secondary sources put this venting into at 36,000 curies, which is 2000 times greater than the 3 Mile Island incident. Sources: Dr. Rosalie Bertell, Dr. Bonnie Eberhardt, journalist Paul Van Dam.
1986–87 Musketeer 15 Nevada Test Site
1987–88 Touchstone 14 Nevada Test Site
1988–89 Cornerstone 12 Nevada Test Site
1989–90 Aqueduct 11 Nevada Test Site
1990–91 Sculpin 8 Nevada Test Site
1991–92 Julin 8 <460kt Nevada Test Site Last nuclear test series. Last shot was "Divider" (September 23, 1992). Exact yields not released.

A number of shots whose goals were to assess the non-military use of nuclear weapons were known as Operation Plowshare, and done during many different test series.

The United States has not conducted any tests since 1992, though they have conducted a number of sub-critical tests (which do not involve a chain reaction).

Soviet Union

The Soviet Union conducted 715 nuclear tests (by official count) [5] between 1949 and 1990. Most of them took place at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan and the Northern Test Site at Novaya Zemlya. Additional tests were conducted at various locations in Russia and Kazakhstan, while a small number of tests were conducted in Ukraine, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.

Some significant Soviet tests include:

The last Soviet test took place on October 24, 1990. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1992, Russia inherited their former nuclear stockpile, but has not conducted any nuclear tests.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom has conducted 45 tests (21 in Australian territory, including 9 in mainland South Australia at Maralinga and Emu Field, many others in the U.S. as part of joint test series). Tests include:

Last test: Julin Bristol, November 26, 1991, vertical shaft.

Atmospheric tests involving nuclear material but conventional explosions:[1]

  • Operation Kittens, 1953-1961 (initiator tests using conventional explosive)
  • Operation Rats, 1956-1960 (conventional explosions to study dispersal of uranium)
  • Operation Tims, 1955-1963 (conventional explosions for tamper, plutonium compression trials)
  • Operation Vixen, 1959-1963 (effects of accidental fire or explosion on nuclear weapons)


France conducted 210 nuclear tests between February 13, 1960 and January 27, 1996. [6]

  • Operation Gerboise bleue, February 13, 1960 (first atomic bomb) and three more — Reggane, Algeria; in the atmosphere; final test reputed to be more intended to prevent the weapon from falling into the hands of generals rebelling against Charles de Gaulle than for testing purposes.
  • Operation Agathe, November 7, 1961 and 12 more — In Ekker, Hoggar Algeria; underground
  • Operation Aldébaran, July 2, 1966 and 45 more — Mururoa and Fangataufa, French Polynesia; in the atmosphere;
    • first hydrogen bomb: August 28, 1968 Canopus (Fangataufa)
  • Operation Achille June 5, 1975 and 146 more — Mururoa and Fangataufa, French Polynesia; underground
    • last test: January 27, 1996 Operation Xouthos (Fangataufa)


The People's Republic of China conducted 45 tests (23 atmospheric and 22 underground, all conducted at Lop Nur Nuclear Weapons Test Base, in Malan, Xinjiang)

  • First test: "596" — October 16, 1964
  • First hydrogen bomb test: "Test No. 6" - June 17, 1967
  • 200kT-1MT atmospheric test, June 17, 1974 (16th test)[2]
  • Last atmospheric test: October 16, 1980. The would also be the last atmospheric nuclear explosion by any other country[3]
  • Last test: July 29, 1996, underground.[4]


India conducted 5 or 6 tests, at Pokhran.

  • Operation Smiling Buddha, May 18, 1974 — implosion type, plutonium, underground, 6 to 20 kt
  • Operation Shakti, all underground:
    • May 11, 1998 — three simultaneously, of which one was claimed to be a fusion device
    • May 13, 1998 — two simultaneously


Pakistan conducted 2 tests[5]:

  • May 28, 1998 — One underground horizontal-shaft tunnel tests (inside a granite mountain) of boosted fission devices with the largest having a yield of approximately 30-35 kilotonnes at Koh Kambaran in the Ras Koh Hills in Chagai District of Balochistan Province.[6][7]
  • May 30, 1998 — one underground vertical-shaft tunnel test of a miniaturized fission device having a yield of approximately 18-20 kilotonnes in the Kharan Desert in Kharan District of Balochistan Province.[6]
Year Series No. shots Total yields Location(s) Image Notes
May 28, 1998 Chagai-I 1 30-35 kt Koh Kambaran, Ras Koh Hills, Chagai District, Balochistan, Pakistan. One underground horizontal-shaft tunnel tests (inside a granite mountain) of boosted fission devices.
May 30, 1998 Chagai-I 1 18-20 kt Kharan Desert, Kharan District, Balochistan, Pakistan. One underground vertical-shaft tunnel test of a miniaturized fission device.

North Korea

On October 9, 2006 North Korea announced they had conducted a nuclear test in North Hamgyong province on the northeast coast at 10:36 AM (11:30 AEST). There was a 3.58 magnitude earthquake reported in South Korea. There was a 4.2 magnitude tremor detected 240 miles north of P'yongyang. The low estimates on the yield of the test — potentially less than a kiloton in strength — have led to speculation as to whether it was a fizzle (unsuccessful test), or a genuine nuclear test at all.

On May 25, 2009, North Korea announced having conducted a second nuclear test. A tremor, with magnitude reports ranging from 4.7 to 5.3, was detected 233 miles northeast of P'yongyang, within a few kilometers of the 2006 test location. While estimates as to yield are still uncertain, with reports ranging from 3 to 20 kilotons, the stronger tremor indicates a significantly larger yield than the 2006 test.

Alleged tests

There have been a number of significant alleged/disputed/unacknowledged accounts of countries testing nuclear explosives. Their status is either not certain or entirely disputed by most mainstream experts.


There is a disputed report about the Japanese atomic program being able to test a nuclear weapon in Korea on August 12, 1945, a few days after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, and three days before the Japanese surrender on August 15, but this is seen as being highly unlikely by mainstream historians. See Japanese atomic program for more information.

Vela incident

In what is known as the Vela Incident, some country may have detonated a nuclear device on September 22, 1979 in the Indian Ocean, according to satellite data. It is not certain whether there was actually a test, or if it was who would have been responsible for it although France[8], Israel or South Africa are sometimes named. See Vela Incident for more information.


In the their book, The Nuclear Express, authors Thomas Reed and Danny Stillman allege that the People's Republic of China allowed Pakistan to detonate a nuclear weapon at its Lop Nur test site in 1990, eight years before Pakistan held its first official weapons test.[9]

North Korea

On September 9, 2004 it was reported by South Korean media that there had been a large explosion at the Chinese/North Korean border. This explosion left a crater visible by satellite and precipitated a large (2 mile diameter) mushroom cloud. The United States and South Korea quickly downplayed this, explaining it away as a forest fire that had nothing to do with the DPRK's nuclear weapons program. See Ryanggang explosion for more information.


Hitlers Bombe, a book published in German by the historian Rainer Karlsch in 2005, has alleged that there is evidence that Nazi Germany performed some sort of test of a "nuclear device" (a hybrid fusion device unlike any modern nuclear weapons) in March 1945, though the evidence for this has not yet been fully evaluated, and has been doubted by many historians.

Tests of live warheads on rockets

The Frigate Bird explosion seen through the periscope of USS Carbonero (SS-337).

Missiles and nuclear warheads have usually been tested separately, because testing them together is considered highly dangerous (they are the most extreme type of live fire exercise). The only US live test of an operational missile was the following:

  • Frigate Bird — on May 6, 1962, a UGM-27 Polaris A-2 missile with a live 600 kt W47 warhead was launched from the USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608); it flew 1900 km, re-entered the atmosphere, and detonated at an altitude of 3.4 km over the South Pacific. The test was part of Operation Dominic I. Planned as a method to dispel doubts about whether the USA's nuclear missiles would actually function in practice, it had less effect than was hoped, as the stockpile warhead was substantially modified prior to testing, and the missile tested was a relatively low-flying SLBM and not a high-flying ICBM.

Other live tests with the nuclear explosive delivered by rocket by the USA include:

  • Operation Argus — three tests
  • On August 1, 1958, Redstone rocket #CC50 launched nuclear test Teak that detonated at an altitude of 77.8-km. On August 12, 1958, Redstone #CC51 launched nuclear test Orange to a detonation altitude of 43 km. Both were part of Operation Hardtack and had a yield of 3.75 Mt
  • On July 9, 1962, Thor missile 195 launched a Mk4 reentry vehicle containing a W49 thermonuclear warhead to an altitude of 248 miles (400 km). The warhead detonated with a yield of 1.45 Mt. This was the Starfish Prime event of nuclear test operation Dominic-Fishbowl
  • In the same series in 1962: Checkmate, Bluegill, Kingfish, and Tightrope

The Soviet Union tested a number of nuclear explosives on rockets as part of their development of a localised anti-ballistic missile system in the 1960s.

List of most powerful nuclear tests

The following incomplete list contains nuclear tests conducted with a yield of over 10 Mt TNT.

Date Yield Test mode Country Test Site Remarks
October 30, 1961 50 Mt air-drop Soviet Union Novaya Zemlya Tsar Bomba
December 24, 1962 24.2 Mt air-drop Soviet Union Novaya Zemlya
August 5, 1961 21.1 Mt air-drop Soviet Union Novaya Zemlya
September 25, 1962 19.1 Mt air-drop Soviet Union Novaya Zemlya
February 28, 1954 15 Mt ground USA Bikini Atoll Castle Bravo
May 5, 1954 13.5 Mt sea surface USA Bikini Atoll Castle Yankee
October 23, 1961 12.5 Mt air-drop Soviet Union Novaya Zemlya
March 26, 1954 11 Mt sea surface USA Bikini Atoll Castle Romeo
November 1, 1952 10.4 Mt ground USA Eniwetok Ivy Mike
September 27, 1962 10 Mt air-drop Soviet Union Novaya Zemlya


External links


  1. ^ "Australian participants in British nuclear tests in Australia — Vol 1: Dosimetry" (PDF). Australian Department of Veteran's Affairs. Retrieved 2007-12-24.  
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Chinas Nuclear program in the 80's
  4. ^ "Chinese Nuclear Tests Allegedly Cause 750,000 Deaths" Epoch Times. March 30, 2009. [2]
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ a b When Mountains Move — The Story of Chagai RAI MUHAMMAD SALEH AZAM,
  7. ^ [4]
  8. ^ Jeffrey T. Richelson, Spying on the Bomb: American Nuclear Intelligence from Nazi Germany to Iran and North Korea (New York: W. W. Norton, 2006) page 296
  9. ^ William Broad, "Hidden Travels of the Atomic Bomb", New York Times (8 December 2008).


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