The Trump administration has been discussing the possibility of the United States launching its first nuclear test explosion since 1992. Such a step will have far-reaching consequences for US relations with other nuclear powers, and will also put an end to the moratorium on such tests, which has been in force for several decades.
According to The Washington Post, this question was raised on May 15 at a meeting of senior officials representing senior national security structures after representatives of the US administration made statements that Russia and China allegedly conduct low-power nuclear tests. According to the American publication, this statement was not confirmed by generally available evidence, and the mentioned countries refuted such information.
A senior administration official who, like the others, spoke to The Washington Post on condition of anonymity, said demonstrating Moscow and Beijing’s readiness to “speed up trials” could be useful from the point of view of negotiations as Washington seeks to conclude a tripartite deal. which is designed to regulate the arsenals of major nuclear powers.
The meeting in question did not end with the adoption of any agreement to conduct the test, but a senior official from the administration claims that this proposal triggered a “very lengthy conversation.” However, another source aware of this meeting says that in the end it was decided to take other measures in response to the threats emanating from Russia and China, avoiding the resumption of nuclear tests.
During the meeting, The Washington Post reports, serious disagreement arose over this idea, in particular from the National Nuclear Safety Administration, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
The United States has not conducted nuclear tests since September 1992, and nuclear non-proliferation advocates have warned that this could have destabilizing consequences.
“That would be an invitation for other nuclear-weapon countries to follow suit,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “It would be the starting point for an unprecedented nuclear arms race.” Negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who may no longer feel obligated to comply with his moratorium on nuclear tests, would also be disrupted. ”
The United States remains the only country to use nuclear weapons, but since 1945 at least eight countries have jointly conducted about 2,000 nuclear tests, of which more than 1,000 were conducted by the United States.
Anxiety over the dangers posed to the ecological situation on Earth by the Earth has prompted more than 184 countries to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), an agreement that will enter into force only after ratification by eight key states, including the United States.
But despite the fact that the former head of the White House, Barack Obama, supported the ratification of the Treaty in 2009, he failed to achieve his goal. The Trump administration said in its 2018 nuclear policy review that it would not seek ratification of the CTBT.
Nonetheless, the major nuclear powers comply with their basic test ban. But the United States has accused Russia and China of violating the “zero power” standard in recent months through extremely low power tests or underground tests. Both Moscow and Beijing refute these allegations.
The discussion of the possibility of a new nuclear test explosion took place against the backdrop of statements by the Trump administration about its readiness to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, designed to reduce the chances of an accidental outbreak of war by providing mutual reconnaissance flights for parties to the agreement concluded by 34 countries.
The announced exit marks another example of the destruction of the global arms control system that Washington and Moscow began to work painstakingly during the Cold War. The Trump administration withdrew from the Medium-Range Missile Treaty with Russia, citing violations by Moscow. Washington also abandoned the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, saying that Tehran is not following the spirit of the agreements.
The main pillar of the arms control system between the United States and Russia could be the new START treaty, which sets limits on strategic nuclear weapons. The Trump administration insists on concluding a corresponding new agreement, which included China and Russia, but at the same time rejects calls for negotiations.