US government cancels non-nuclear test explosion

The US government said Thursday it is canceling Divine Strake, a non-nuclear explosion that would have caused the first mushroom-shaped cloud in decades over the desert in the western state of Nevada. "I have become convinced that it's time to look at alternative methods that obviate the need for this type of large-scale test," Defense Threat Reduction Agency Director James Tegnelia said in a statement. The 700 ton (635 metric tons) test explosion at the Nevada Test Site, 85 miles (137 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas, was proposed to gather data about penetrating underground bunkers that produce and store weapons of mass destruction. But the prospect of a mushroom cloud in the desert prompted a lawsuit and intense opposition in Nevada and neighboring Utah, where critics feared it would scatter decades-old radioactive material from previous Cold War-era tests.