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During the hey days of Cold War, the Soviet started blowing up nukes all over northeastern Kazakhstan to investigate the possibility of using nuclear power for peaceful construction purposes such as moving earth, creating canals and reservoirs, drilling for oil and so on. The tests were carried out under the banner of “Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy”. This was the Soviet version of “Operation Plowshare” – a similar program devised by the U.S.

Having borrowed the terrible idea from the U.S., the Soviet program got underway in vigor and ended up being many times larger than the U.S. Plowshare program both in terms of the number of applications explored with field experiments and the extent to which they were introduced into industrial use. While the U.S. conducted 27 tests before realizing it was a bad idea and terminated the program in 1977, the Soviets continued right up to 1989 during which as many as 156 nuclear tests were conducted.

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