Friday , February 23 2024
Resuming nuclear testing would be a politically disastrous move for the U.S.

Veterans, Doctors Support a Treaty to End Nuclear Weapons Testing

Earlier this month Ellen Tauscher, Undersecretary of State for arms control, said, “The reality is that the United States has not tested a nuclear weapon for nearly twenty years, and we do not need to do so.”

So why hasn’t the United States ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)? This treaty would ban all nuclear test explosions.

The CTBT was rejected by the Senate in 1999. Some senators thought the monitoring system was insufficient to prevent a nation from cheating and conducting a secret test. Others felt that nuclear weapons testing is needed to maintain the arsenal.

Thomas D’Agostino of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recently explained, “we have a safe and secure and reliable stockpile. There’s no need to conduct underground [nuclear] testing.” The 2009 study by JASON, an independent science panel, said the “lifetimes of today’s nuclear warheads could be extended for decades, with no anticipated loss in confidence.”

The system to detect nuclear test explosions has been researched and developed since the Eisenhower administration. These many years of experience offer a highly reliable system to detect secret nuclear tests. Any country that would attempt to evade detection would have to possess enormous technical expertise and spend high sums for what is really little gain.



An auxiliary seismic station in the Antarctic, part of an international monitoring system for detecting nuclear weapons test explosions. (CTBTO photo)

Resuming nuclear testing would be a politically disastrous move for the U.S. It could very well provoke increased nuclear weapons testing and development by Russia, China, and others. A new nuclear test would be an added expense to a country trying to save money. And if a resumption in nuclear testing sets off a new arms race, it could prove very costly in more ways than one.

Col. Richard L. Klass of the Veterans’ Alliance for Security and Democracy and Dr. Robert Dodge of the Physicians for Social Responsibility recently penned an op-ed supporting the CTBT. The event where Tauscher was speaking was a Global Zero convention, a group also in favor of the treaty and other steps toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.  Ending nuclear testing certainly makes conditions much more suitable for disarmament to take place.

The CTBT can open the door for increased cooperation between Russia and the U.S. on missile defense and reducing tactical nuclear weapons. The security of the United States is much better off with this treaty.

This is an age where the threat of nuclear terrorism and accidental launch of these weapons is very real. The cost of nuclear weapons is so burdensome to society, it reduces our ability to respond to the great challenges facing our planet.

We cannot wish away the problem of these weapons of mass destruction. We can diligently make efforts to reduce nuclear weapons though, of which a treaty ending their testing is paramount.

About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.

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