The Trump administration last week discussed whether to conduct its first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992, a senior administration official told the Washington Post.
The idea was first discussed during a May 15 meeting with senior officials from national security agencies after administration officials accused China and Russia of performing low-yield nuclear tests.
While the officials didn’t agree to conduct a test, a senior administration official said the proposal is “very much an ongoing conversation.”
A senior administration official who spoke to the Post on the condition of anonymity said the nuclear “rapid test” could help the United States push China and Russia closer to a nuclear agreement.
Officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration reportedly disagreed with the idea of nuclear rapid-fire testing. No one at the agency would respond to the Post’s request for a comment on the matter.
Other advocates of nuclear nonproliferation said this rapid test could lead to destabilizing effects.
“It would be an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “It would be the starting gun to an unprecedented nuclear arms race. You would also disrupt the negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who may no longer feel compelled to honor his moratorium on nuclear testing.”
Trump has yet to extend the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which is the only current U.S.-Russia arms control agreement. The pact is scheduled to expire on Feb. 5, but Russia wants to extend the deal for up to five years.
The president doesn’t want to sign a new deal unless it includes China, which is likely to double its nuclear stockpile over 10 years.
Trump’s 2021 budget included nearly $46 billion in new spending on nuclear programs.
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