Created: 10/1/1981

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lhe Soviet Program for Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Explosions


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The Soviet Program for IVnreful Uses of Nuclear Explosion-

he Soviets have conducted al leastnderground nuclear

cxplosioni in iheir peaceful nuclear explosion program. The Soviets consider this program to be important io Ihc development of their economy, bui available evidence docs not indicate that if hasajor impact

In general. Soviet experiments on peaceful uici for nuclear explosions do nol appear to have produced all of the expecied results. Examples of specific experiments and Iheir results include

of runaway gas welb: three successes, one failure.

Construction of storage cavities in salt domes; moderately successful.

Deep seismic sounding; no evidence that practical results were achieved.

Stimulation of oil and gas production: unsatisfactory, with the possible exception of recent experiment*vercome the effects of gas hydration when drilling in the permafrost zone.

Fracture of phosphate ore to speed mining operations: unsuccessful

The most ambitious Soviet project involving the use of nuclear explosions is thc proposed Pechora-Kama Canal. The Soviet* plan to divert thc north-flowlng Pechora Rivert IOmeter canal into Ihe south-flowing Kama River in an effort to replenish thc dwindling waier supply of the Caspian Sea. If the Initial project design is reaffirmed after ecological studies areiS-kilometer section of the canal would be excavated using nuclear row charges

The importance of the program for peacefulof nuclearnd specifically of Ihe Pechora-Kama Canal project, to the Soviets was evident during negotiations for the Threshold Teal Ban and Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaties and during the early negotiationsomprehensive teat ban treaty. Thc Soviet* initially insisted on the right to conduct nuclear explosions for peaceful purpose! bui evcnlually agreed to eliminate their useomprehensive' test ban environment. When the Soviet* gave up the right to conduct peaceful nuclear explosions during negotiationsomprehensive test ban, they believed they hadajorand considered thai bilateral negotiations on this issue would be resumed in the future



Ihe So>iel Program

for Peaceful Uses

of Nuclear Explosions

The Sovtci program for peaceful nuclear eiploiioni (PNF.i| beganJ and it the rnoti eiteniive ia tbeNfc'i have been uicdt leaneiof -pel i. ii. conducted throughout the

jThii activity hat been concentrated^imria in the ^iii icvcn ycari. whereas in thc nine in" into thai ll waa eeniercd In the Curopcaa USSR and Central Asia Thc Soviets have eondwiird at Icaiteaneat5 and at ninny at tight in9 for almost five event* per yea


SoviciWith Peaetfulpl)iioaifCat Wtllu Thesed nuclear capknioni lo control runaway gat welli oa four icparaic occasions be'oreT. They achieved cloture of three of theAlthough the Soviet! hive had runaway gaa went since then. provcmenti in their capability to controli wclli and to uin conventional rr.-'hoda lo mniiiil runaway wella apparently have eliminated the need for this type of PNE.

Oil una* Gar Stimulation The Semeti conductedoil ttimulaticM eipenmenl sling PNFa in IMS. vhen they detonated ihrce nuclear dencea ia the Gr*che>haecondhich two nuclear drvicel weren the Oia Oil Field wit conducted9 No further oil nimula-lion took placeNF. wa> uicd in lhc Salym Oilfield in western Siberia (Suliny) In0 ihe Soviet! conducted another cipcrimcnt lhat includedin the Grachevh* Oilfield (Lipo-ha) and one on the Krainolcnimkiy arch In weatcin


Siberiaeceni ei per intent, probably for gaa itimulation. oceuired in1aifield near ihe town of Afonikha ai ibc mouth of the Pechora River Three oil and gai itimulaiaan cipenmenii have been conducted sinceur.i- event, an oil itinsulation eaptil-ment, oceurrcdeptember near the lown of Parma ai the Pechora River Delia. Tho icoood and thirdrobably for gai stimulation, occurred four minute* apart oneptember. These two

cvenll were conducted inaifield neji Ailnthau'. north of the Caspian Sea

Theear hiatus in oil stimulation experiment! and eommenli by the Soviet Minuter olOil Produttkki afler the teat*59 indicate that those experiments did not produce the desired rejulis We do nen know whether the lean conductedl were mora wiloi'il than th* Mils conducted in. Analyta* suggeiti that Ifceae tcatt >ei< efforts to increase oil production because total Sovici oil produciion iv leveling oil and prcoably will begin to decline in the near future

fhc retulti fiom the firat gai stimulation teat, whichat conducted in the Takhta Kugul'ti GatftiM near Slavrornl'ere not released by Ilia Noviiliai were the reiulti of iheir early oil stimulation eiperi-

mi The fact thai no additional tciu werein tkit gaifield lugiciti lhat the improve meat in

production wai not utiifactory TKn eapcrimiai

fvobably wai conducted lo overcame the lack of porcaity in thenets by fratturiruj them withlosion

4 throughhe Soviati tonduclcd nine I'NIa to itimulaic production at icven guf.ddi in Siberia. They dlicuuod icvcral of thc earlier nuclear cvcnia in open source literature. According to the Sovieti, thcac tcati were designed to solve the


en or.ii.nione. When the imiH amount* of waier produced with the gai liecre. the resulting iceutnuli-lion of ice in the boichole eventually chokes off the flow of fit The heat ftorn the nuclear cxplckuon probably melts the accumulated lee. After the heat diraipatca. the cavity or chimney formed by the explcuion provides room for ice to accumulate without plugging the borehole. The fact that the Soviet* have conducted leveeal of them cipetlmcni* lunnu they may have aehievod some lucceai

by Outtting the ore, and cccovcice by uung Notation methodt Thc remaining slurry it pumped into ho*dmi pondt where the cruihed none letllci

The nuclear eiplosion conducted near thc mine4 wai probably Ihc first ina lerlca oreiploiions planned toock dammall itreambed, thui providing an additional holding pond.

Dam conitruetion il the only vie foe relate* luncited


2 thc Soviet*'NF. toi>atitcl underground toioint


inactiveiv-tinc thatNti did not piuduoe the desired rcaulta. The Sovieti have not conducted any otheri* type.

4 ihcNE to produce *broken rock freiarc) io the vicinity of tbediamond mine near the Arctic Circle indiamond* are mined by tne

off i. acparitod from the matrix rock


i-jiing.ere full uied for eieavaiion purposes in the USSRhe Soviets uicdISO-kiloton (kt) ea plot ion lo dealt* large throrater, ibe lip of which dammed the Shagan River,tributary of lhe triyaharge lake formed behind Ihe carihen dam. which held until (ha apriag of IMS' when tbe lake overfVywcd aad wathed out lhe dam. The Sonets repaired lhe dam wilh aa imperviou. core and paved spillway to thai il would not be damaged by future overflow*

No use of ibe water in the lake has ever been observed. It is possible lhat ihe water in Ihe Shagan River, which normally flow* only during the spring lhaw. ia contaminated wilh salt* and minerals from ihe toil in ihe river's watershed. The Soviets may have repaired) the dam lo prevenl the flow of coniamlnated waver into Ihe Iriyth River, the source of drinkingfor thc main support eoniplci of the Semipala-tlnsk nuclear weapons proving ground.

The Soviets detonated a

ai the Konyilan area of thc Semowmtni*round inhea thrown-.

planned lo divrn waier from tht north-Homing Pechora River to the south-flowing Kamanbuiaiy of the Volga The canallanned croia sectionouatc melcri and. If completed, would be one of the largeit manmadc eacavaiton proiccit in the world

The Semen propose to racavaie the norther* ft? km of Ihc canal with nuclear oiploirom. InI iheyow charm eiperiment on ihe route of ihe proposed canal. According to the Sonets, th* row ehaige comprisedt nuclear devices emplacedO malc-ri apart and buried al depth,eir

Thc canalntendod lo help alleviate tha waier shortage in the European USSR, particularly in thc lower Volga River Basin and near Ihe Caspian Sea During the pastean, the contumptlon of water has increased in ihli area due lo urhin and indu.inal eapansion and tha irrigation of farmland along Ihc Volga and III tributaries. These factors, tofether with changes in climaticave caused the level ofpun Sea toeteri. These conditions ait capcctcd lo continue.nd il la estimated thai by the0 ihe level of ihe Caaplan Sea will have droppedeter*

Two excavations were made

at Ihe TayHn area of the Semipoprovin* ground1 f_

He oat* collected.u. meo in planning foroposerl Pci bora-Kama Canal project

Th* Pochora-Kama Canal it ihe mosi ambitious project involving the uie of PNEa lhat Ihe Soviets have proposed.ilometer (km) caaal b

In lhehe Soviets initiated iludica lo evaluate lhe environmental impact or the canalon ihe northern region of lhe Euiopean USSR Concef na were cipreaied about the cITeet thai the annual diversion of as much at SO cubic kihsarstteri of waier from the Pechora Roer would have an tbe climate of thil region. An Investigation lo determineheof water thai can be safely diverted lo thc south li scheduled lo be completedha results of thil invcstigatioi' probably will irsflaorvca Ih* final daion of thc lit* (caou section) of thc canalthus the method or* it* immim

ari of their

PNE program, the Soviet* have caicnarvclj inIhc potential uses forIn isli Salt domea are the-i

medium in whichnuclear explosion iilanding cavity. Other type* ofubble chimney following an underground nuclear detonation.

Five caviiie* produced in tall by PNE* apparently have been or are in ute for storage. Two of these eavtiiea arc at thc Orenburg GaiField, one at the Suvkhoi Outfield, and two near Sicciliamek. Thc caviiie* at the gasflcldid to More gai conden.olatile liquid produced with methane that mutt bc tlorcd under pressure. The caviiie* near Stcrlitamak apparently are uicd to store toxic waste* from chemical and other induitricc in thc area.

2 the Soviets conducted an experiment at Argir using .high-explosive (HE)his suggests that they were surprised by the relatively large iciimic signal* generated by the two earlier nuclearIn the experiment, two group* of KE shots were used in an effort to determine if the ground motion from'kt nuclear expkaion could have been predicted C

cavity ihot* in salt were conducted by tht Soviets aboutm east of Norilsk.)/

created at numerous anca. Many arc near planned industrial projects and probably will be used for storage of toxic industrial wastes.

The salt dome near the village of Amir, north of the Caspian Sea. has been the site of st least IS PNE* in both salt and tali cavities. The firtl two explosion* at this site were described by the Soviet* at international meeiings on the peaceful use* of nuclear energylthough the Soviets did not specifyr when thc test* occurred.

Altogether, the Soviets created al least seven caviiie* in salt at Axgtr. They conducted four separate shots ia one cavity (location H) ind one shot in anotherhc tests at Aigir most likely were part of ao ambitious program to examine potential axes of cavities formed by nuclear cxploaions in salt,use for storage, uie in perfecting the capability to reenter cavities and reuse Ihe original emplacement hole, and use in develoiWng methods of conducting repeated shotsavity, pouibly toward ihcuse of the heat from the cxplcaion*cratc


Thc Soviet* reported thc yields of ihc two expleniomndt. respeetivcl-T^

Ji No testingu. at AZgir lincc these wulb were poured (beginningJune and. pouibly because ground movement could damage tbem. The Sovieti have indicated lhal they plan to use sail cavities to store high-level radioactive waatea. and thc large cylinder may be partuclear waste tsrccesiini plant. L

Sehmie Projlllmt. The Soviet* hoveource of iciimic energy todeep crust jod upper mantle oribeearib. Mostshots were spaced-mbisected several major tectonic

regionitne USSR. For sorne shots,ipaced In profiles- km intervalslui-shaped palter C

The Soviets hove published the result* from someseismic profile-but allude to the

energy source a* "industrialheresult* only Include iciimic data on thc deep crust and upper mantle, such as velocity and attitude or dip of the Interfaces in thesehc authors do not comment oo the significance or potentialof these result*.

ineral PNE meeting the Soviets slated that profile* from deep seismic sounding would be used for oil exploration. Data on the lower crust and upper mantle would only be applicable to Ibe investigation of Ihe theory of the inorganic origin of oil. Many Sovici earth scientist* are advocates of this theory, whereas most Western earth tcienibll believe in the organic theory of the origin of oil. The Soviet* may be invesligaling the deep crust and upper mantle to locale area* where meihaoe form* colore migrailng upward to poeou* tone*

Modifieotlon of Tectonic En*!roamiiu. In4 the Sovietsuclear explosion near ihe Konystan area of thenuclearproving ground. Thiif.was locatedarge and exteniivevrw f_

^3Other explosion* at Konystan have been located ofT of the fault on relatively fill terrain. The location of this lest in the rough terrain just on the op-thrown aide of the fault indicate* it moat likely wo* designed to modify or alTeet the tectonic character of ihc are*.

n earthquakeagnitude of J. I

.lit* epicenter was aboul 17

amtne site of ihe lest Inhis is the only earthquake ever delected within ihe Semipalalinsk proving ground. It is unlikely lhal thi* earthquake occurredesult or the earlier nuclear explosion because the two events occurred IJ month* apart at locations separatedistance ofm. The Soviets have not published any result* from this experiment, which suggesti lhat it wa* not tuceewfu!

Rctattornhlp of tbe Soviet Peacefulon Progtaas to Nuclear Test Baa Treaties Tkt Limited Ten Bern Teeny. The LTBT. entered into force inJ, prohibit* nuclearin the atmosphere, space, and urtderwaier. aad in any other environment that causes nucleardebris to be present beyond the border* of the country uploding the nuclear device. There ia no evidence that the Soviet* have conducted any nuclear exialoaiona io prohibited environments,umber of their underground teat* have vented radioactivity Into the atinospbcrc. The extent to whichiolation of the LTBT ii In ditpuic between Ihc United State* and USSR. The Soviet, frequently quote the Russian text which prohibit* "radioactive fallout outside nationalhe Enaliahtext referi to radioactive debris

Thc most aevere venting* *lnee ihe LTBTthe excavation experiment* oo the Shagan River dam and the row charge explosion on the route of Ihe Pechora-Kama Canal. In the Inner ease, ihe Soviet* made an effort to contain tne radioactive debris within iheir borders by conducting the tcsi when weather condi. i" mi: were such lhat Ihe winds carried the radioactive debris over the Ural Mountains, where rain aad snow clouds washed out most or thc debris over ihe larnclv uninhabited

Soviet* may have detected0 o. tower) tremor* or lignificant strain along this fault. One conjecture of the PNE experiment conducted here could have been an attempt to release tectonictoarger earthquake. Onarch

Tne future utt of PNEi by ihehould not poseBy-reaty, with tht ttccptlon of ihc planned Pechora Kama Canal It* Ihc Sonet* use nuclear eapaoiiommvutportion ofanal, tome radioaciivc debris alrnoai ceruialy wia escape ihe bordcra of the USSR.

TA*Tin Ban and Ike PNE Ttiallii. Then

treaties have bun algncd by both ihe United State* and the USSR bul have not been (itlflceleiihu> country. Many of the proviiioAi of thcaa treaties, howevo. have been voluntarily adhcod lo by both panic* pcndina ratification. Tha TWesbeod Teal Ban Ttcaiy ^o* tha detonationucleara yield in ciccttO hi. Th* PNE Treatynuclearconductcel outiidc wesp-on< leal

The PNE Tteaiy itipuiatc* thai no nueteat detonation ihall hiveyield In caeca*. thil no tiri|te device, when detonated a* pan ofgroup ei plosion, ibtllield in caeca* of ISO hi. and thai no group etptcuton ihall have an aggregate yield in excoiO at. Further, the PNE Treaty prewrde* for advance notification of group PNEa by Ihcconducting Ihe experiment and for on-liteof tome groupine* th* PNE Treaty wa*

signedone of the Soviet PNE ihot* have been large enough to invoke provisioni of the treaty, tuch a* inspection or advance notice before letting.

amattkim Baa Nt**tUtlo*u. The future of PNEaopic In ibc early atagr* of negotiation!omprehensive trtt ban (CTBl7 The Sonets initially tnaisted thai any CTB treaty ihoutd provide for Ike continued used af PNFs, even if all nuclear weapon* test* were prohibited Finally, ihey agreedoratorium oa PNEa for at lean the initial duration of any CTB, bul continued to Inilit on the eventual necessity to use PNEa in ihc Induatrial development of Ibc USSR. Igor Morokkov. who waa the chief Soviet tdvetcaie foreplacedchairman of the Soviet CTB delegation ai thc lima ihi*o* waa made Tha. duple ihe high value lhe Soviet* have placed at) lac pouatial bencfita ofhey havaiflingnea* to forgo ihem toTB

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