The Peoples Republic of China (PRC) has conducted 14 uclear weapons development tests during the period October 1964 through March 1972. The tests, designated chronologically as CHIC 1 through 14, involved four fission devices (the first, second, fourth, and thirteenth) one probable fission device (the ninth test), and eight thermonuclear devices (the fission-TN character of CHIC 14 has not yet been determined).
The first eleven PRC tests, CHIC's 1-11, appeared to be directed at the development of satisfactory low yield fission (l0's of KT) and high yield thermonuclear (3 MT) weapons. In this group of tests, two basic fission device primary designs and one basic thermonuclear design have evolved from analysis of the test debris. With the exception of the first thermonuclear test, the one basic thermonuclear design which evolved in the first eleven tests involved a two stage tuballoy burner incorportating successive improvements from prior tests. The PRC appears to have achieved its goal of developing a deliverable 3 MT thermonuclear weapon, as well as low yield (l0's of KT) fission weapons.
The twelfth and thirteenth nuclear tests appear to represent the start of a new phase of the PRC nuclear weapons program. CHIC-12 was a low yield (15 KT) test of a thermonuclear device. Significantly, debris analysis from CHIC-12 indicates that the device employed a boosted plutonium primary (2 KG's Pu) which contained no more than 0.5 KG of oralloy. This may be indicative of PRC interest in developing all plutonium primarys or pure fission weapons for tactical uses. The CHIC-12 test site was heavily instrumented (likely for diagnostics) around the immediate vicinity of the ground zero. This fact and, in addition, the wide variety of materials found in the CHIC-12 debris, indicate that CHIC-12 was an experiment to explore basic thermonuclear device phenomenology.
The thirteenth nuclear test was a test of a low yield (8 KT) composite fission weapon. It appears possible that CHIC-13 was delivered by an F-9 fighter, and may have been a proof test of a tactical weapon.
The attached table is a recapitulation of the 14 Chinese nuclear weapons tests conducted between 16 October 1964 and 17 March 1972.
The fourteenth nuclear test involved a device with a yield tentatively assessed at 170 kilotons. CHIC 14 was an airdropped device most likely delivered by a TU-16 jet medium bomber. Insufficient evidence is available at this time to permit a determination of the nuclear characteristics of this test weapon.
|TEST||DATE||BEST YIELD ESTIMATE (KT)||DELIVERY||GOAL||REMARKS|
|CHIC 1||16 OCT 64||25||Tower||Fission Design|| |
|CHIC 2||14 OCT 65||35||Airdrop||Adapted CHIC 1 for Bomber|| |
|CHIC 3||9 MAY 66||250||Airdrop||TN Development||First attempt to burn TN fuel|
|CHIC 4||27 OCT 66||10||Missile||TN Development|| |
|CHIC 5||28 DEC 66||300||Tower||TN Development||Two-stage|
|CHIC 6||17 JUN 67||3,300||Airdrop||TN Developement||First full yield two-stage TN test|
|CHIC 7||24 DEC 67||15-25||Airdrop||TN Development||Two-stage failure|
|CHIC 8||27 DEC 68||3,000||Airdrop||TN Development||Two-stage. First use of plutonium|
|CHIC 9||22 SEP 69||20||Underground|| ||Purpose unknown|
|CHIC 10||29 SEP 69||3,400||Airdrop||TN Development|| |
|CHIC 11||11 OCT 70||3,000||Airdrop||TN Development|| |
|CHIC 12||18 NOV 71||15||Surface||Effects/Diagnostics||TN device|
|CHIC 13||7 JAN 72||8||Airdrop (Poss F-9)||Weapons Proof||Fission device|
|CHIC 14||17 MAR 72||170||Airdrop (Prob TU-16||Insufficient data for evaluation|