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former IAEA Director-General

The Nuclear Testing Tally
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Contacts: Daryl Kimball, Executive Director, (202) 463-8270 x107

Updated: September 2017

Since the first nuclear test explosion on July 16, 1945, at least eight nations have detonated 2,056 nuclear test explosions at dozens of test sites from Lop Nor in China, to the atolls of the Pacific, to Nevada, to Algeria where France conducted its first nuclear device, to western Australia where the U.K. exploded nuclear weapons, the South Atlantic, to Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, across Russia, and elsewhere.

Most of the test sites are in the lands of indigenous peoples and far from the capitals of the testing governments. A large number of the early tests—528—were detonated in the atmosphere, which spread radioactive materials through the atmosphere. Many underground nuclear blasts have also vented radioactive material into the atmosphere and left radioactive contamination in the soil.

Through nuclear test explosions, the testing nations have been able to proof-test new warhead designs and create increasingly sophisticated nuclear weapons. In 1996, negotiations on a global Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) were concluded and the treaty was opened for signature on September 24, 1996. The CTBT, which prohibits "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion" and established a international test monitoring and verification system, has not yet entered into force.

 

United States
(1,030)
First tested:
July 16, 1945.
Last tested:
Sept. 23, 1992.
Signed CTBT:
Sept. 24, 1996.

USSR/Russia
(715 tests)
First tested:
Aug. 29, 1949.
Last tested:
Oct. 24, 1990.
Deposited CTBT Ratification:
June 30, 2000.

United Kingdom
(45 tests)
First tested:
Oct. 3, 1952.
Last tested:
Nov. 26, 1991.
Signed CTBT:
Sept. 24, 1996.
Deposited CTBT Ratification:
Apr. 6, 1998.

France
(210 tests)
First tested:
Feb. 13, 1960.
Last tested:
Jan. 27, 1996.
Signed CTBT:
Sept. 24, 1996.
Deposited CTBT Ratification:
Apr. 6, 1998.

China
(45 tests)
First tested:
Oct. 16, 1964.
Last tested:
July 29, 1996.
Signed CTBT:
Sept. 24, 1996.

India
(3 tests1)
First tested:
May 18, 1974.
Last tested:
May 13, 1998.
Not a CTBT signatory.

Pakistan
(2 tests1)
First tested:
May 28, 1998.
Last tested:
May 30, 1998.
Not a CTBT signatory.

North Korea
(6 tests)
First tested:
Oct. 9, 2006.
Last tested:
Sept. 3, 2017.
Not a CTBT signatory.

YearUnited StatesUSSR/ RussiaUnited Kingdom FranceChinaIndiaPakistanNorth KoreaTotal
19451       1
19462       2
19470       0
19483       3
194901      1
195000      0
1951162      18
19521001     11
19531152     18
19546100     16
19551860     24
19561896     33
195732167     55
195877345     116
1959000     0
19600003    3
1961105902    71
1962967921    178
196347003    50
1964459231   60
19653814141   58
19664818073   76
19674217032   64
19685617051   79
19694619002   67
19703916081   64
19712423051   53
19722724042   57
19732417061   48
197422211911  55
197522190210  44
197620211540  51
197720240910  54
1978193121130  66
1979153111010  58
1980142431210  54
1981162111200  50
1982181911010  49
198318251920  55
198418272820  57
198517101800  36
19861401800  23
198714231810  47
198815160810  40
19891171900  28
1990811620  18
1991701600  14
1992600020  8
1993000010  1
1994000020  2
1995000520  7
1996000120  3
1997000000  0
19980000022 4
1999-20050000000 0
2006000000011
2007-2008000000000
2009000000011
20100000000020
2011000000000
2012000000000
2013000000011
2014000000000
2015000000000
2016000000022
2017000000011
Total1,03071545210453262,056
NOTE

1. In accordance with the definition of a nuclear test contained in the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and to allow accurate comparison with other countries' figures, India's three simultaneous nuclear explosions on May 11 are counted as only one nuclear test, as are the two explosions on May 13. Likewise, Pakistan's five simultaneous explosions on May 28 are counted as a single test.

2. In the article "Radionuclide Evidence for Low-Yield Nuclear Testing in North Korea in April/May 2010," Lars-Erik De Geer argued that the xexon and barium isotope concentrations in air currents from North Korea in April and May of 2010 were consistent with two low-yield nuclear tests. However, this theory was largely debunked when the Earth Institute at Columbia University measured seismology records and determined that no well-coupled explosion larger than one ton could have occured during that timeframe. According to the report, such a low yield explosion would have been incapable of advancing the North Korean's technical understanding of a nuclear weapon explosion.

Posted: September 3, 2017