Russia is conducting subcritical experiments at a test site at Novaya Zemlya to confirm the reliability of nuclear weapons, said Igor Kolesnikov, head of the 12th Main Directorate of the Russian Defense Ministry, on the Zvezda TV channel.
“Non- explosive nuclear tests are being carried out to confirm the reliability of the existing nuclear ammunition. I must say that the United States of America is working in the same direction, they are also conducting the same experiments in Nevada,” he said. The 12th Main Directorate (Glavnoye Upravleniye Ministerstvo Oborony) of the Ministry of Defense is the primary organisation responsible for the Russian nuclear munitions and also controls Central nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya.
“In 1996, the Russian Federation signed, and in 2000 ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Therefore, we are now conducting non-explosive nuclear experiments,” he said. Subcritical tests are allowed in CTBT.
In May 2019, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Ashley, Jr., the then Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, speaking at the Hudson Institute accused Russia of testing nuclear weapons. “Our understanding of nuclear weapon development leads us to believe Russia’s testing activities would help it to improve its nuclear weapons capabilities,” he said.