Russia, the United States, and China have all constructed new facilities and excavated new tunnels at their nuclear test sites in recent years, satellite images obtained exclusively by CNN show.
Images obtained and provided by a prominent analyst in military nonproliferation studies illustrate recent expansions at three nuclear test sites compared to just a few years ago.
This development comes at a time when tensions between the three major nuclear powers have risen to their highest point in decades, as reported by Eric Cheung, Brad Lendon, and Ivan Watson.
While there is no evidence to suggest that Russia, the US, or China is preparing for an imminent nuclear test, the images, obtained and provided by a prominent analyst in military nonproliferation studies, illustrate recent expansions at three nuclear test sites compared to just a few years ago.
One is operated by China in the far western region of Xinjiang, one by Russia in an Arctic Ocean archipelago, and another in the US in the Nevada desert.
The satellite images from the past three to five years show new tunnels under mountains, new roads, and storage facilities, as well as increased vehicle traffic coming in and out of the sites, said Jeffrey Lewis, an adjunct professor at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
"There are really a lot of hints that we're seeing that suggest Russia, China, and the US might resume nuclear testing," he said, something none of those countries have done since underground nuclear testing was banned by the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
China and the US signed the treaty, but they haven't ratified it.