Donald Trump could conduct the United States first nuclear weapons test since 1992 – pictured right (Pictures: AP/Los Alamos National Laboratory)
Donald Trump may green-light a nuclear weapons test to keep rivals Russia and China in check, it was claimed. Senior officials within the Trump administration are reportedly keen to conduct the US’s first nuclear weapons test since 1992 in an attempt to strengthen the country’s hand ahead of talks with Russia and China on managing their respective weapons stockpiles.
According to The Washington Post, the idea was first mooted by senior national security officials on May 15, with a source telling the paper that the prospect of a test is ‘very much an ongoing conversation.’
The United States’ National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) reportedly objected strongly to the idea, but has refused to comment on that claim.
Another unnamed official claimed that the nuke test idea is already dead in the water. They said that other measures are instead being considered to strengthen the United States’ hand ahead of discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
President Trump’s envoy for arms control Marshall Billingslea insists that China is currently building up its nuclear weapons stockpile and ‘using those forces to try and intimidate the United States and our friends and allies.’
Putin and Xi have been accused of conducting underground ‘low yield’ tests using smaller weapons in recent months, but both China and Russia deny those accusations.
And Daryl Kimball, from education group the Arms Control Association, said the US resuming its own testing could trigger a new arms race across the globe. Kimball explained: ‘It would be an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit.
‘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.’
Nuclear weapons tests are intended to check the reliability of a country’s stockpile, or to try out a new weapon, but the United States currently checks the readiness of its arsenal by monitoring missiles’ components and using computer simulations.
Rumors of the new tests come days after President Trump announced plans to pull the US out of the 18 year old Treaty on Open Skies. It allows all 34 member countries to conduct reconnaissance flights over each others airspace, and was created to try and avoid an accidental war.