Encyclopedia Of Arkansas Minute: The 'Arkansas' Nuclear Test

Jan 16, 2020

Cold War tensions led to a nuclear weapon test being named for the Natural State.

Following the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, the Soviet Union announced in August 1961 that it would resume atmospheric testing after a three-year moratorium; the U.S. followed suit in October. The United States conducted thirty-six nuclear tests in the Pacific as part of Operation Dominic.

On May 2, 1962, a B-52 bomber dropped a 1.09 megaton device near Christmas Island, which detonated at five thousand thirty feet after which nine B-57s sampled the atmosphere in the test code-named “Arkansas.” Operation Dominic ultimately included five high-altitude tests, twenty-nine air-drop tests, one airburst from a Polaris missile, and one underwater test.

After the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the superpowers to the brink of nuclear war, they entered negotiations and on August 5, 1963, signed the Limited Test Ban treaty, ending the era of such nuclear tests as “Arkansas.”

To learn more, visit EncyclopediaOfArkansas.net.