Nonproliferation advocates warn of dire consequences if US resumes nuclear testing
International nonproliferation advocates have warned of destabilizing consequences after a report revealed that the Trump administration is in discussion to conduct the United States' first nuclear test since 1992, amid rising tensions with Russia and China.
A senior administration official and two former officials said the issue was raised at a May 15 meeting of senior national security officials after the White House accused Russia and China of carrying out low-yield nuclear tests, The Washington Post reported on Friday.
Beijing and Moscow have rejected the accusations.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), a global civil society coalition working to promote full implementation of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, warned in a Twitter post that the decision would have dire consequences.
ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn also issued a statement warning that a nuclear test by the United States would “plunge us back into a new Cold War.”
“It would also blow up any chance of avoiding a dangerous new nuclear arms race. It would complete the erosion of the global arms control framework,” she said in the statement.
An administration official told the Post on condition of anonymity that it was suggested during the meeting that a nuclear test would enhance Washington’s negotiating position as the US resumes nuclear arms control talks with the Kremlin.
The meeting did not conclude with any agreement to conduct a test, but a senior official said the proposal is “very much an ongoing conversation.”
Other nuclear nonproliferation advocates also warned that the resumption of nuclear testing by the US could set off a dangerous nuclear arms race.
“It would be an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, told the newspaper. “It would be the starting gun to an unprecedented nuclear arms race.”
Trump has expressed willingness to leave the Open Skies Treaty, which governs unarmed and reconnaissance overflights and was initially established to avert a conflict between the US and Russia.
The United States is the only country to have deployed a nuclear weapon against another nation, and carried out more than a 1000 nuclear tests between 1945 and 1992 when it stopped testing.