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    Russian expert says U.S. test explosion is "political" move

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    "It could be a move to threaten Iran, North Korea or any other regimes that the United States is not pleased with"

    MOSCOW, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - Washington's decision to conduct a large-yield high-explosive test has political overtones, a Russian military expert said Friday, speculating that the United States intended to use the test to intimidate hostile regimes.

    "It could be a move to threaten Iran, North Korea or any other regimes that the United States is not pleased with," said Anatoly Tsiganok, head of the Center for Military Forecasting, adding that it could be regarded as an attempt to demonstrate U.S. military superiority over Russia and China.

    The U.S. earlier told Russia it planned to detonate 700 tons of TNT during the Divine Strake test as part of a program to develop weapons capable of destroying facilities buried deep underground.

    The experiment is sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), and is scheduled for June 2, 2006 at the Nevada Test Site.

    Tsiganok said Russia was unlikely to follow the U.S. example, and would not conduct similar tests.

    "We have signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the use of conventional explosives with yield comparable to that of a small nuclear bomb could be regarded as a violation of the treaty," he said.

    The expert said that the U.S. move could "provoke an escalation of tensions in the world, and particularly in the Middle East."

    The U.S. has not yet ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and is unlikely to do so in the future.

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