Soviet Scientists Check Out Vegas and A-Test Site

Associated Press

Soviet scientists traveled to the U.S. nuclear testing grounds Monday after visiting Hoover Dam and the Las Vegas Strip.

The 20 scientists will spend the remainder of the week at Mercury, a tiny Nevada town 65 miles northwest of here that was built to accommodate many of the 8,000 workers who run the U.S. testing program.

The visit follows a trip by American scientists to the Soviet testing grounds earlier this month. The exchange visits are considered a possible prelude to a nuclear test ban.

The Soviets took an hourlong bus ride down the Las Vegas Strip late Sunday night after a 20-hour flight from Moscow via New York City.

"They were very tired, but they wanted to see the Strip," said Nick Aquilina, head of the Energy Department's Nevada Operations Office, the facility that conducts the nuclear testing program.

Monday morning the scientists took a 30-mile bus trip to Hoover Dam.

The leader of the Soviet delegation said on arrival Sunday night that he hoped the visit would be the first step toward the goal of "limiting and eventually stopping all nuclear testing."

Igor Palenykh, head of the delegation, told a group of reporters and Energy Department officials on hand for the arrival that the weeklong visit was the outgrowth of last month's summit meeting.

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