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1961: World condemns Russia's nuclear test

Russia has exploded the world's largest ever nuclear device provoking widespread condemnation from around the world.

The device believed to be 50 megatons, equivalent to be 50 million tons of TNT, caused the biggest ever man-made explosion.

The test, the 26th in the current series, was carried out over the Arctic island of Novaya Zemlya despite repeated objections from the West.

Shockwaves from the explosion were first picked up at the seismological institute at Uppsala in Sweden at 0830 hours GMT.

They were two-and-a-half times as powerful as Russia's last test, which was carried out a week ago using a 30-megaton weapon.

British indignation

A spokesman at the Kew Observatory in Britain where shockwaves from the explosion were recorded at about 1151 hours GMT said: "This was a big one alright. It's the largest such recording I have ever known."

A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Russia refused to make any comment.

Earlier today the United Nations had sent an official appeal asking Russia not to continue with its nuclear testing programme.

Lord Home, British Foreign minister, said, in a statement: "The British Government wholeheartedly deplores the news of this latest and largest of the Russian nuclear explosions.

"Eighty-seven nations appealed to the Soviet leaders to spare the world the explosion of the 50-megaton bomb, which endangers the health of many millions of people.

"The British Government shares the indignation which will be universally felt at this wanton disregard for the welfare and safety of the human race."

The United States Government insists it has known for many years how to make 50 and 100-megaton bombs but remains convinced that smaller weapons are more effective.

A White House spokesperson said: "It is a scientific fact that five 20-megaton weapons will cause more damage than one 100-megaton weapon."

In Context
It was subsequently revealed the Soviet bomb was 58 megatons - the world's biggest explosion to date and nearly 4,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

The explosion came at the height of the arms race between Russia and America during which time each country successfully produced bigger and more sophisticated thermonuclear weapons.

Between 29 August 1949, when it exploded its first nuclear bomb, and 25 October 1990, the Soviet Union carried out 715 nuclear tests.

Although successive international treaties have sought to reduce the nuclear stockpile, there are still enough hydrogen bombs in the world to destroy mankind many times over.


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