A government announcement that a major nuclear weapons test is scheduled in the Nevada desert at dawn today caught anti-nuclear protesters off guard and forced them to cancel plans to try to halt the test.
The test will be the third announced U.S. test in a month and the 10th announced test since the Soviets began a unilateral test moratorium Aug. 6.
The last announced test was April 10. About 100 anti-nuclear activists were arrested before that test, including 14 people who sneaked onto the 1,350-square mile secret desert site. Protesters claimed they were responsible for delaying the test for two days. Department of Energy officials denied it.
Activists had to hastily redraw their demonstration plans for the latest test because they had not expected it to occur until Wednesday.
They said they would still gather “a large handful of people” at the test site entrance at daybreak today but a Colorado group abandoned plans to sneak onto the classified government compound in the Nevada desert.
The government announced that the test, code-named “Jefferson,” will be detonated at 6:30 a.m. PST at Pahute Mesa, 104 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Tuesday’s test is scheduled to have an explosive yield of up to 150,000 tons of TNT, which would be nearly 12 times the force of the blast that destroyed Hiroshima.
For security reasons, not all tests are announced.
After the last test, the Soviet Union announced it was ending an eight-month moratorium on nuclear testing because of continued U.S. tests. The White House said it would continue nuclear testing because national security required it.