During Cold War, Pine Belt nuclear tests watched worldwide - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

During Cold War, Pine Belt nuclear tests watched worldwide

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) -

It was what the United States government called Project Dribble - involving two nuclear explosions that were detonated deep under Mississippi soil in the 1960s.

"There would have been a countdown, there would have been a firing switch," said historian Dr. David Burke.

The nuclear tests that were part of Project Dribble were part of America's Cold War arms research; an experiment to see if it was possible to detect if the enemy set a nuke off underground, breaking an Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that both the U.S. and the Soviet Union had signed in 1963.

"They wanted to test to see whether or not it was possible for the Soviet Union to cheat," said Burke.

Leaders across the globe - behind the Iron Curtain - knew about the tests in Mississippi - that was part of the plan.

"Because of these tests being conducted in the open and the news media being alerted constantly as to the size of the devices being tested, the depth that they were being fired at, the precise location of this site, and making sure that the entire world knew," said Burke. "It's not only me learning that you're cheating - it's you knowing - through observing my experiments. You know, that I will know if you cheat.

The result?

"We found out that yes indeed, from the second test the Sterling Test in 1966, that yes you could muffle a nuclear device inside of a chamber," said Burke.

Information drawn from the Dribble Test has proven invaluable. The Cold War over, today, Burke says, it has been used to keep an eye on secretive weapons development in places like North Korea and Pakistan.

Copyright 2012 WDAM. All rights reserved.

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