The State Department of the United States released a report on Wednesday that suggested China may have secretly conducted a series of low-level nuclear test explosions. If true, the tests would be in direct violation of an international pact that prohibits the practice. It would also likely add to the increasing tension between China and the rest of the world following the coronavirus pandemic, which likely originated in the city of Wuhan.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the report steered clear of directly confirming that the Middle Kingdom conducted nuclear tests. However, it maintained that there has been a number of activities that "raise concerns" about the possibility.
These include an increase of action at China's Lop Nur test site, including extensive excavations. The excavations have been rumored to house special chambers that allow the tests to be performed underground, making it easier for the Communist Party to conduct the explosions in secret.
Moreover, the report also pointed to a number of instances where there were "interruptions" in data transmissions from stations located in China designed to detect nuclear activity. These stations would both detect radioactive emissions as well as seismic tremors.
Transmissions are sent to an international body located in Vienna called the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization. A spokeswoman for the group claimed that transmissions from China had been "virtually" without interruptions since this past September.
However, the spokeswoman admitted that there had been a number of issues throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019, which she claimed was due to "ongoing negotiations on post-certification activity contracts" with Chinese stations.
However, the agreement that bans the practice of nuclear tests has not been officially ratified, and countries such as the United States and China adhere to its regulations on a voluntary basis.
Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the nongovernmental group Arms Control Association, argued that the State Department's suspicions should finally spark the international community to officially ratify the pact.
"The most effective way to resolve concerns about very low-yield nuclear explosions and enforce compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is for the United States — and China — to ratify the treaty and help bring it into force," Kimball claimed. "When it does, states have the option to demand intrusive, short-notice on-site inspections."
China has not made any official response to the allegations listed in the State Department report, and China's Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, the Communist nation is already facing an onslaught of criticism following its handling of the coronavirus, with some experts claiming that it had potentially originated in a Chinese laboratory, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.