The Trump Administration is actively considering the possibility of conducting a nuclear test, something the United States has not done since 1992.
The topic was broached at a May 15 meeting of top officials from various national security agencies after some in the room accused China and Russia of conducting low-yield nuclear tests in secret, the Washington Post reported.
One official told the paper that a nuclear demonstration was “very much an ongoing conversation” and might be useful for negotiations with the two counties as Washington seeks a comprehensive new deal to regulate nuclear stockpiles.
The United States remains the only nation to ever deploy nuclear weapons during wartime, and conducted more than 1,000 tests during the cold war. At first the spectacular events were often held on remote islands in the Pacific Ocean before environmental concerns forced them underground.
With the exception of North Korea, there has been a longterm moratorium on nuclear weapons tests and some arms control experts worry a US test could ignite a new era of testing around the world.
“It would be an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit,” Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association told the Washington Post.
While President Obama had actively tried to reduce US and international nuclear arsenals, President Trump has taken an opposite approach, with his 2021 budget including almost $46 billion in additional spending on U.S. nuclear weapons programs, according to Defense News.
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