Officials will put a replica of the most powerful nuclear device ever exploded on display in Moscow in September.
The replica Soviet-era “Tsar Bomba” will be shown to the public at an exhibition near the Kremlin. The AN-602 hydrogen bomb casings will be a huge part of an exhibition celebrating Russia’s nuclear program since 1945, according to The BBC.
Exhibition to feature casing of largest nuclear device ever exploded
Moscow’s Manezh center will host the exhibition and the replica of the 58-megaton H-bomb, which was exploded in 1961 by the Soviet Union. The test took place in the Arctic circle, and “Tsar Bomba” was approximately 3,000 times more powerful than the atom bomb that the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima during World War II.
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The bomb was so large that it had to be carried and dropped by a specially designed bomber. The Tupolev Tu-95B bomber, an adapted version of the Tu-95 which is still used by the Russian airforce today, flew to a height of 10.5 kilometers before dropping the huge bomb over the Soviet Arctic test facility at Novaya Zemlya.
According to the Russian media, the bomb caused a shockwave which passed around the Earth three times, a 4.6 kilometer-wide fireball and a mushroom cloud which reached 67 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
As a result of the blast, the Tu-95B bomber lost nearly 1 kilometer in altitude. A bomb of a similar size has not been tested since.
Terrifying product of Soviet-U.S. nuclear arms race
Officials are set to bring the bomb casings to the capital from the closed nuclear research town of Sarov, located 465 kilometers east of Moscow. To this day anyone who wishes to visit Sarov must have a special permit due to the fact that nuclear weapons are developed there.
The casings will be exhibited at a show called “70 years of the atomic industry – a chain reaction of success.” Organized by Rosatom, the state nuclear energy corporation, the exhibition will run from 1-29 September.
In addition to the “Tsar Bomba” moniker, the bomb was also known as “Kuzma’s Mother,” thanks to a Russian expression which means “we’ll teach you a lesson.” In 1959 Nikita Krushchev, former Soviet leader, used the phrase in conversation with former U.S. Vice-President Richard Nixon regarding the nuclear arms race, according to Russian news sources.
Personal effects of well-known Soviet nuclear scientists will also be displayed at the Manezh exhibition, alongside previously secret documents, and models of nuclear reactors and a nuclear-powered icebreaker.
Patriotic fervor on the rise in Russia
Visitors who want to explore Russian military history to a greater depth should head to the Patriot Park, a military theme park that has just opened an hour away from Moscow. Visitors to the park are fed on military rations as they play with weapons and climb over equipment designed for war rather than the amusement of curious children.
The park is one of a number of initiatives designed to drum up nationalistic feeling as Putin emphasizes a perceived foreign threat in order to justify certain domestic policies. Authorities consistently push for investment in the armed forces in the face of increasing tensions with NATO due to the Russian annexation of Crimea.
Devoting an increasing amount of the federal budget to defense places further pressure on other areas of government which are suffering due to the ongoing economic crisis. By convincing the Russian people that military spending is necessary to defend the Russian way of life, Putin has successfully controlled opposition elements upset by the decline in civil liberties and economic growth.
Normalization of nuclear rhetoric as Putin promotes siege mentality
An exhibition glorifying Soviet nuclear technology only serves to normalize the increasing use of nuclear rhetoric in Russia. The possibility of using nuclear weapons to dislodge NATO from Eastern Europe has been raised before, and many commentators are worried about a return to the Cold War, or the beginning of World War 3.
With consistent dialogue and a commitment to negotiation, both the U.S. and Russia should be able to avoid the future use of nuclear weapons. However with economic sanctions pushing Russia deeper into trouble, Putin is running out of options when it comes to convincing the Russian people that his leadership is still their best option.
As it stands the Russian President looks set to focus his attention on economic and military partnerships in Asia in a bid to reduce Moscow’s international isolation, but developments in both the BRICS economic grouping and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization appear to be moving far more slowly than Putin would have hoped.