This question is a bit general because I don't know which, if any, countries will be conducting nuclear tests in the future. Hopefully none!

Are nuclear tests open for foreigners to watch them? I don't know whether it's allowed or not because nuclear tests are often done to indicate a country's capability to other countries, but on the other hand, there can be some secrecy around military-related things.

Are they generally announced ahead of time? And is there anything to "see" (or hear or feel), given that they're most likely underground tests?

  • 2
    Did you read the obvious Wikipedia article? There's nothing to see if an underground test is done right, and non-underground tests have been banned for 50 years. And it seems highly unlikely that something so heavily classified as a nuclear test programme would be inviting tourists along. – David Richerby Mar 19 '16 at 17:15
  • @DavidRicherby I briefly looked at that article, and I also searched YouTube for videos of underground tests. I also mentioned in the question that I expected it to be an underground test. – Andrew Grimm Mar 19 '16 at 23:17
  • Do "foreigners" have a chance to watch nuclear tests? As an invited guest of the government perhaps, as visiting tourist chances are 1 in a googol. ;-) – user13044 Mar 20 '16 at 3:43

The comprehensive Test Ban Treaty CTBT is not currently in force since it's not been ratified by 8 nations (China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, United States). However no tests have been carried out since 1998 other than in North Korea.

You could write to tour agencies (most of which deal with a single North Korean government agency) or even the government of North Korea with a request, I suppose. The North Korean tests were somewhat known in advance. The most recent one was described as an artificial earthquake of magnitude 5.2 which isn't all that big unless you are fairly near. Also countries in general, and probably North Korea in particular, are not keen on random foreigners skulking around military areas. Real earthquakes vary a lot and are not the same as underground tests, but here is a 'shake map' from a (rather larger on the log scale) 5.5 earthquake in California, courtesy of the USGS:

enter image description here

Looks like you'd have to be within a few tens of km to feel anything, which probably means a VIP invitation or nothing.

The purported test area in Punggye-ri is about an 8-hour drive from the capital Pyongyang.

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