It’s pretty sick when you think about all the money that is needed for one nuclear detonation. This money can certainly be used to other purposes. However, these detonations are also used to investigate how such explosion works and this knowledge can be used to maximise the security of nuclear power generators.
The most detonations happen in the United States, the Soviet Union (Russia) and the United Kingdom. Starting from 1963, these detonations all take place underground as per the Limited Test Ban Treaty these countries agreed upon. Some other countries, such as France, North Korea and China, did not sign this agreement.
And you almost won’t believe it, but nuclear explosions are sometimes used ‘for the good’. They are called ‘PNEs’ or Peaceful Nuclear Explosions. As per the World Nuclear Association’s website;
- Large-scale excavation to create reservoirs, canals and ports.
- Stimulating oil and gas recovery.
- Creating cavities for underground oil, gas or waste storage.
- Extinguishing gas field fires.
- Space propulsion.
- Interception of potentially dangerous Near Earth Objects (asteroids, etc).
- Recovering oil from oil shale.
- Energy production via molten fluorides underground producing steam for electricity.
- Breaking up copper and phosphate ore preparatory to mining.
And here is an overview in one image, click for full size.