The possibility that the Trump administration may resume nuclear explosive weapons testing in Nevada is as reckless as it is dangerous. We have not tested a device since 1992; we don’t need to do so now.
When I was Vice President, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy certified annually that the stockpile continued to be safe and reliable without the need for nuclear testing. By all accounts that remains true today. And the scientists who lead our national nuclear laboratories have regularly affirmed that we have learned more about the weapons in the two plus decades of the Stockpile Stewardship program — the means by which we assess the reliability of the weapons — than we did during four decades of weapons testing.
The Administration reportedly believes a test will help compel Russia or China to come to the negotiating table on a new arms control agreement. This is delusional. A resumption of testing is more likely to prompt other countries to resume militarily significant nuclear testing, and undermine our nuclear nonproliferation goals. How can the United States persuade North Korea not to test and to give up its nuclear weapons, and how can we persuade Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons, if we set the destructive example of testing nuclear weapons for coercive purposes?
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and the 75th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — the only time nuclear weapons have been used in conflict. It is not the time to discard our mantle of nonproliferation leadership, when there is no justifiable purpose for conducting a nuclear test.
President Trump should put an end to this nonsense and immediately reaffirm that the United States will continue to abide by its commitment not to test nuclear weapons.