(RIA Novosti) - Russia's defense minister arrived at the country's central nuclear testing site on an Artic Ocean island Wednesday to discuss improving national nuclear arsenal.
"It is my second visit to Novaya Zemlya in accordance with the head of state's instructions to upgrade Russia's nuclear arsenal," Sergei Ivanov said at the headquarters of the testing site established in the Barents Sea 50 years ago, reports Trend.
In his state of the nation address to parliament in May, President Vladimir Putin set the task of substantially strengthening the nuclear triad in the next five years.
"Research and experiments, including at Russia's central nuclear testing site, play a particular role in the purpose," Ivanov said.
He is also meeting with Russia's top civilian nuclear official Sergei Kiriyenko Wednesday.
Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister and has been tipped for the top job when Putin leaves office in 2008, said he would inspect the site to identify what needed to be done to ensure it could carry out its mission.
He also said he wanted to focus on social infrastructure because human factor played a crucial role in the process.
"This is very important on Novaya Zemlya, where people have to serve and live in extremely tough climatic conditions," he said.
The minister said he had visited the site, which is 750 kilometers (465 miles) long and 150km (93 miles) wide, in 2004 and praised the progress made since then.
The first 3.5-kiloton nuclear blast was conducted at Novaya Zemlya in September 1955 to test a warhead of a T-5 torpedo at a depth of about 12 meters (39 feet).