FAQs

How can a nuclear explosion be verified?

When a nuclear explosion occurs, a great deal of energy is instantaneously released and physical products are created. The energy interacts with the environment and propagates sound vibrations through the solid earth, the ocean or the atmosphere. Physical products (e.g. radioactive particles and/or gases) are released into the surrounding medium and can leak into the atmosphere, even if the actual explosion occurred underground or underwater.

The IMS uses three so-called “wave-form technologies”—seismic, hydroacoustic and infrasound—with sophisticated sensors to detect the transient signals created when this explosive energy is released. At the same time, radionuclide stations collect and analyze air samples for evidence of the physical products created and carried by the prevailing winds. The radionuclide technology can show whether an explosion has been nuclear in nature.

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