17 June 1967 - China's First Thermonuclear Test

Basin of Lop Nor from space.

On 17 June 1967, the People's Republic of China conducted its first thermonuclear test, codenamed 'Test No. 6'. The explosion took place in the atmosphere over the Lop Nor Test Site, in the northwest of the country, with a yield of 3.3megatons. The design of the bomb was such that it could be delivered either by aircraft or ballistic missile.

The test was carried out only 32 months after the country’s first nuclear explosion on 16 October 1964. By comparison, the United States took 86 months from conducting the first-ever nuclear test in 1945 until the world’s first thermonuclear explosion in 1951.

China's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons date back to the 1950s. The Soviet Union had assisted the Chinese nuclear weapons programme significantly following agreements signed in 1951 and 1957. Seven years after 'Test No. 6', neighbouring India conducted its first nuclear explosion in 1974.

The last of China’s 45 nuclear tests took place on 29 July 1996, only months before China signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) when it opened for signature on 24 September 1996. The Treaty bans all nuclear explosions.

Of the 44 countries that must ratify the CTBT before it canenter into force, 35 have already done so. Of the eight remaining, China has already signed the CTBT, together with Egypt, Iran, Israel and the United States. India, Pakistan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea have yet to sign and ratify.

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