Trump adviser calls for US nuclear weapons tests if elected

Allies of Donald J. Trump have proposed that the United States resume underground nuclear testing if the former president is re-elected in November. Many nuclear experts oppose such a return to testing as unnecessary and say it risks ending a testing moratorium that has been respected for decades by the world’s major nuclear powers.

In the latest issue of Foreign Affairs magazine, Robert C. O’Brien, former national security adviser to President Trump, urges him to conduct a nuclear test if he is re-elected. Washington, He wrote“For the first time since 1992, we need to test the reliability and safety of new nuclear weapons in the real world,” he added. Doing so would help the United States “maintain a technological and numerical advantage over the combined nuclear arsenals of China and Russia.”

In 1992, when the Cold War ended, the United States I gave up It banned the explosive testing of nuclear weapons and eventually persuaded other nuclear-armed nations to do the same. Do the sameInstead, the U.S. turned to experts and machines in its domestic weapons laboratories, which today include room-sized supercomputers, the world’s most powerful computers, to test the lethality of its weapons. X-ray equipment Laser Systems The size of a sports stadium.

O’Brien wrote in the article that such studies would only “use computer models.” Republican lawmakers and some nuclear experts have There are drawbacks They say non-explosive tests are not enough to assure U.S. military authorities that the weapon is effective, and are calling for live-fire tests.

But the Biden administration and other Democrats have warned that a U.S. nuclear test could set off a chain reaction by other countries, adding that over time a resumption of nuclear testing could lead to a nuclear arms race, destabilize the global balance of terror and increase the risk of war.

“That’s a terrible idea.” Ernest J. MonizAs Secretary of Energy in the Obama administration, he oversaw the US nuclear arsenal. “Every new nuclear test makes us less safe. We cannot separate it from the global consequences.”

Siegfried S. HeckerThe former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico, where Robert Oppenheimer oversaw the development of the atomic bomb, said the new tests were a dangerous trade-off between domestic gain and global loss. “We have more to lose,” he said, than America’s nuclear rivals.

It’s unclear whether Trump will follow through on the nuclear testing proposal. In a statement, Trump’s co-campaign managers, Chris LaCivita and Suzi Wiles, did not directly address the candidate’s position on nuclear testing. They said O’Brien and other outside groups and individuals “have misconceptions, are speaking prematurely, and may be completely wrong” about a second Trump administration’s plans.

Nevertheless, Trump’s threats and intimidation of the use of nuclear weapons, Hardline policy This suggests he may be open to such guidance from his security advisers: In 2018, he boasted that his “nuclear button” was “much bigger and more powerful” than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s military power control apparatus.

The US explosion Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban TreatyThe Treaty on International Arms Control (TIAC) ​​has long been considered one of the most successful arms control measures. Signed by the world’s nuclear powers in 1996, it aimed to curb a costly arms race that was spiralling out of control.

During the Cold War, China set off The 45 test explosions – carried out by Germany, 210 by France, 715 by Russia and 1,030 by the United States – are aimed at finding flaws in the weapon’s design and verifying its reliability.

Nuclear Expert To tell The testing imbalance discourages other countries from making their arsenals more diverse and powerful, giving Washington a military advantage.

In 2017, the possibility of new testing was revived with the inauguration of President Trump. Discussing reopeningAdministration officials have called for a shorter preparation time for the resumption of U.S. nuclear testing. The federal agency that manages the U.S. nuclear testing site Ordered The time required for preparation is reduced from several years to just six months.

Nuclear experts say the testing facility, located on a vast expanse of land in the Nevada desert, Dilapidated or disappeared.

Last year, the conservative think tank Heritage Foundation recommended the U.S. do away with the reserve period. Policy Guide Conservative presidential candidates say to Washington,Move to instant test preparation.”

In his Foreign Affairs article, O’Brien argued that the Biden administration’s response to China and Russia’s nuclear buildup had been weak. He said U.S. weapon test explosions strengthen the U.S. arsenal and help deter America’s enemies. His article focused on the safety and reliability of new designs, not those tested during the Cold War.

“It would be negligent to deploy novel nuclear weapon designs that have never been tested in the real world,” he said. Christian WhittonHe served as a State Department adviser in the George W. Bush and Trump administrations and conducted background research for O’Brien’s article.

Asked for examples, Whitten cited two new American weapons that he said needed to be detonated: both thermonuclear weapons, also known as hydrogen bombs, and both with many times the destructive power of the bomb that devastated Hiroshima.

The first bomb cited was W93The system will be mounted on top of submarine missiles. Announced Development will begin in March 2022, with Whitton calling it a “completely new design.”

But the Biden administration Work Plan The W93 says that’s not the case, noting that the warhead will rely on “currently fielded and previously tested nuclear designs.” Moreover, its creators at Los Alamos National Laboratory Claimed The warhead can be safely and securely deployed without recourse to further explosive tests.

Charles W. NakleyDeputy Director of Weapons Physics at the institute, Said The Los Alamos publication states that the alternative to live explosions “will allow the W93 to be deployed without the need for additional nuclear testing.”

Another weapon Whitton mentioned was B61-13A type of bomb First deployed 1968. The Biden Administration Announced The development was announced in October and described by Whitton as “extensively redesigned.” Still, official plans show the core Recovered from an older B61 version It was recycled into a new model.

“The idea of ​​a major redesign is unfounded.” Hans M. Christensen“They’ve already tested the explosive parts,” said the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, a private research organization in Washington.

But Whitton believes even minor changes “should be proven in the real world.” He also argued that the U.S. needs to develop new warheads to counter hypervelocity (or hypersonic) weapons being developed by China and Russia. “We’re likely going to need new warhead designs,” he said, which would require new testing.

Despite contradictory claims and uncertain election results, nuclear experts say China and Russia Countries are preparing new nuclear test sites in case the United States resumes its nuclear testing program or gets ahead of them. Dr. Moniz, the former Energy Secretary, said he fears the United States will act first if Trump is re-elected.

Whitton, the former State Department adviser, cast doubt on the idea that a U.S. nuclear detonation would set off a global chain reaction, noting that Russia and China are already building up their nuclear arsenals without resorting to new tests.

“It’s unclear whether existing nuclear powers or aspiring nuclear powers will follow our lead,” he said of the global reaction. “If they do, the downside is that their capabilities may improve slightly.”

The advantage, Whitton said, is that the United States could study foreign nuclear explosions for clues about their hidden properties — for example, monitoring tiny vibrations in rock from underground tests to estimate the yield of a nuclear weapon.

Whitton added that such measurements “will help us appropriately update our deterrent capabilities.”

The problem with Whitton’s point is its implicit consequence: that the world could slip back into a cycle of costly action and counter-action that characterized the Cold War, say many nuclear experts. They warn that this century the nuclear arms race could become more global, innovative, deadly and unpredictable.

“China has much more to gain from resuming nuclear testing than we do,” said Dr. Hecker, the former director of Los Alamos. “It would open the door for other countries to test nuclear weapons and reignite an arms race that would endanger the entire world. We shouldn’t go that far.”

Michael Gold Contributed report.

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