In Focus: "Peaceful" Nuclear Explosions; June 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Horgan; 2 Page(s)
China¿s northwest territory, which includes the Gobi Desert, contains almost half of that country¿s total landmass but only 7 percent of its freshwater. Recently some Chinese engineers proposed diverting water into this arid area from the mighty Brahmaputra River, which skirts China¿s southern border before dipping into India and Bangladesh. Such a feat would be "impossible" with conventional methods, engineers stated at a meeting held last December at the Chinese Academy of Engineering Physics in Beijing. But they added that "we can certainly accomplish this project"--with nuclear explosives.
This statement is just one of many lately in which Chinese technologists and officials have touted the potential of nuclear blasts for carrying out nonmilitary goals. Now that France has finally pledged to stop testing, the Chinese interest in socalled peaceful nuclear explosions (PNEs) is emerging as the major obstacle to the enactment of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which arms-control advocates had anticipated might be achieved this year.