The United States set off another underground nuclear blast today, its third this year, demonstrating the Reagan Administration’s determination to continue testing despite Soviet calls for a superpower freeze.
A brief statement by the Department of Energy said only that the blast at 6:30 a.m. beneath the Nevada desert yielded between 20 and 150 kilotons, or the equivalent of 20,000 to 150,000 tons of TNT.
A small U.S. blast on April 10 prompted the Soviets to call off their 8-month-old, self-imposed unilateral moratorium, which they had said would be maintained only as long as the United States refrained from testing.
There has been no indication, so far, when Soviet testing will resume.
Tass, the official Soviet press agency, condemned today’s test as an act which dashed a unique chance to achieve disarmament.
Tass said Washington’s three announced tests so far this year showed that it has “resorted to actions that complicate still further the tense situation in the world arena.”
“The nuclear explosions in Nevada dash a unique chance to make a real beginning to the disarmament process,” Tass said.
Energy Department spokesman Jim Boyer said the weapons-related test was “very successful.”
He said strong ground motion was felt on the scene of the blast, 2,000 feet underground, but no tremors spread to nearby Las Vegas, where owners of skyscrapers had been cautioned to avoid all outside work high up their buildings.
Twenty-nine anti-nuclear demonstrators protested the explosion outside the perimeter of the giant Nevada test range, about 55 miles from ground zero, he said.
President Reagan had invited the Soviet Union to send observers to today’s test to observe a new U.S. method of measuring the punch of nuclear explosions, called Corrtex.