Each Party undertakes to prohibit, to prevent and not to carry out at any place under its jurisdiction or control, and further undertakes not to carry out, participate or assist in carrying out anywhere:
(a) any individual explosion having a yield exceeding 150 kilotons;
(b) any group explosion... having an aggregate yield exceeding 150 kilotons...
(c) any explosion which does not carry out a peaceful application...
Section 2, Article III, Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty
The Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (PNET) of 1976 was a bilateral agreement between the US and the Soviet Union that banned peaceful nuclear explosions with yields more than 150 kilotons and group explosions with an aggregate yield of 1.5 megatons. These were not covered by the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT) . The PNET applies to all nuclear explosions conducted at localities outside the weapons test sites defined under the TTBT.
Both nations reserved the right to conduct nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes in the territory of another country if requested to do so while maintaining compliance with the provisions of the PNET and Non-Proliferation Treaty. Testing for weapons must still occur at the declared nuclear weapons test sites under the TTBT.
Currently, neither the US nor the USSR has any intention of conducting Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE's).
The provisions set forth in the PNET combined with the TTBT establish a comprehensive set of regulations that govern all underground nuclear explosions in the US and the Soviet Union. Both the PNET and the TTBT have identical five-year durations. No party may withdraw from the PNET while the TTBT remains in force. Conversely, either party may withdraw from the PNET if the TTBT ceases to be in force.
The provisions of this Treaty do not extend to underground nuclear explosions carried out by the
Parties for peaceful purposes. Underground nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes shall be
governed by an agreement which is to be negotiated and concluded by the Parties at the earliest
Article III, Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974
Articles IV and V provide general verification for the Treaty, implemented in the additional Protocol. Under the Protocol, each party must provide to the other nation within a specified timeframe from any peaceful nuclear explosion: the purpose, the location, geological information, and information regarding the explosives used. Each nation must also inform the other party beforehand the exact time of the planned detonation.
In addition, the PNET states that information and access to explosion sites will be provided by each nation. It includes a commitment not to interfere with verification means and procedures.
A Joint Consultative Commission was formed to discuss any questions of compliance, to develop details of the on-site inspections procedure, and to facilitate cooperation wherever it is mutually beneficial to both parties to the Treaty.
In drafting the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, the US and the USSR acknowledged the need to establish a suitable agreement to address underground nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes, referred to as Peaceful Nuclear Explosions (PNE's). A nuclear device used for a peaceful purpose has no substantive difference from a nuclear device used as a weapon.
Negotiations between the US and the USSR on the PNET began in Moscow on October 7, 1974. After six negotiating sessions over 18 months, the final version was agreed upon in April 1976. The agreement consists of a Treaty, a detailed Protocol, and an agreed statement specifying certain activites which do not constitute a peaceul application of nuclear technology.
The Treaty entered into force along with the TTBT on December 11, 1990.
Operation Plowshare was the overall term used to describe the US peaceful nuclear explosions project. Between 1961 and 1973, 28 nuclear shots were conducted. Under Operation Plowshare, Project Chariot was one of the first nuclear blast proposals that came close to execution.
The Soviet Union's PNE program was comprised of Program No. 6 and Program No. 7 of the Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy project. It was similar to the American Operation Plowshare, except that many of the tests were actual applications of nuclear technology and not simply tests. Under the Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy program, 239 nuclear tests were conducted, compared to the 28 tests conducted by the US.