5. Christmas Island
Also known as Kiritimati, this was the site of both British and American testing in the 1950s and 60s. The British detonated their first successful bomb over the island in November 1957 (a test in May that year had not been successful) and carried on with atmospheric explosions through 1958 as part of “Operation Grapple”. The US carried out 22 detonations there in 1962 as well. Neither country evacuated the islanders during the blasts and some reports say that their own servicemen were not issued with protective clothing.
The environmental effects were immediately obvious – there was a strange, heavy rainfall immediately after the blasts, dead fish rose to the surface and thousands of birds were blinded by the light of the blast. They were later euthanized by the servicemen involved in the tests. The long-term effects on the island and the islanders are still unclear.
4. Lop Nur, China
China is another power that the West views with suspicion when it comes to nuclear weapons. They have been testing them since 1964 and seemed to agree to stop when they signed the CTBT in 1996. However, in 1998 a secret testing base in the Taklimakan desert, in the Xinjiang Province. British Prime Minister Tony Blair flew to China to discuss the testing, against a background of hideous deformities and cancer rates that were 35% higher in Xinjiang than in the rest of the country.
It is unclear whether testing is still ongoing in China, but the Chinese have no plans to lose their nuclear arsenal, stating that they want to maintain a “minimum deterrent”. In 2011, they published a white paper that agreed to a no-first-use policy, although that leaves the option of nuclear retaliation wide open.
3. P’unggye , North Korea
This is one site that has taken on increased significance recently, as North Korea declares that they are at war with South Korea. They have conducted three nuclear tests, at least one of which was at P’unggye, not far from the coast. The second of these tests occurred on May 25 2009 and was conducted a kilometer underground, with the utmost secrecy. However, the secret was discovered when GPS receivers in the area picked up signals, and the Western powers were alerted about the test. What this means for the conflict with South Korea is uncertain, but a nuclear-capable country declaring war is a terrifying prospect.
2. Area 51, USA
The most famous secret in the world, Area 51 is most commonly connected with extra-terrestrials but it was also used as a nuclear testing site. The so-called 57 Project simulated a nuclear attack and the effects were studied. A sub-parcel of land called Area 13 was set up to resemble an American city, with sidewalks and buildings in it, and live animals were brought in for the experiment. The dirty bomb was detonated in April 1957, spreading the an area of 895 square acres with Plutonium. Some clean-up was attempted, but the area was mostly just fenced off with barbed wire.
The facility was closed in 1973, but there is some talk of another, catastrophic test that took place there before it closed. In the absence of hard evidence, it is hard to know what really happened in America’s most secret of areas.
1. Quds, Iran
A secret nuclear testing facility whose location is not yet public, this is another very real threat to the security of the world. It has long been suspected that Iran was harboring nuclear weapons, despite signing the CTBT and there has recently been confirmation of a testing facility known only as “Quds”, a word which is synonymous with the Arabic word for Jerusalem. As it’s such a recent discovery, very little is known about “Quds”, but boasting on Mashregh News, run by the National Guard, suggests that the nuclear warheads there may be pointed at Israel. Whatever happens, the existence of a nuclear testing facility in an aggressive country is another worrying sign for the future of the world.