16.10.

1964: China Tested its First Atomic Bomb near Marco Polo’s Historical Route

1964: China Tested its First Atomic Bomb near Marco Polo’s Historical Route
Photo Credit To http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fe/Chinese_nuclear_bomb_-_A2923.jpg

Story Highlights

  • historical event:
  • The nuclear test was conducted near the coast of the salt lake Lop Nur, not far from the famous Taklamakan desert in northwestern China. The area was also part of the historical Silk Road.

This day in 1964 marked the first nuclear explosion in the history of China. The bomb in question was a uranium-235 fission bomb, with a strength of roughly 22 kilotons. Therefore, even the first Chinese bomb was more powerful than the American bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

The place where the Chinese conducted their tests is of special interest. It is called Lop Nur, not far from the famous Taklamakan desert in northwestern China. Lop Nur was once a great salt lake, but over time it completely dried up. In 1928 the lake still covered an area of 3,100 square kilometers, 5.24 times greater than Lake Balaton in Hungary, or about the same size as Yosemite National Park. Today, the lake has almost completely disappeared, and its bottom is covered in a crust of salt, around one meter thick.

The nuclear test was conducted near what was once the coast of the salt lake. The test’s codename was 596, which stood for the sixth month of 1959, when the Chinese initiated an independent project of producing a nuclear bomb (after they cut most ties with the USSR).

It is interesting that Lop Nur is located near what was once the Silk Road, and Marco Polo passed beside it during his journeys through China.

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