Nuclear testing: ‘Why do we need to start a new arms race?’

Washington Bureau

Provision in National Defense Authorization Act to ban testing

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — The United States has not conducted live nuclear weapons tests for 28 years. But reports indicate the Trump Administration has discussed re-starting the nuclear testing program.

That has Democrats from the areas impacted by past testing — in Nevada and Utah — pushing a provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act to ban new nuclear tests.

“It would prevent this administration or any in the future from using funds to restart nuclear weapons testing,” said Nevada Rep Dina Titus, who introduced the bill with support from Utah’s Ben McAdams.

“Thousands and thousands of Utahns have developed cancer and died from those tests. And I think it’s important that we don’t see that testing resume,” he said.

The ban on live nuclear testing was included in the House version of the NDAA, but it’s unclear if it will make it into the final version.

“We can test our stockpile without doing tests with yield and our scientists have been doing it for over 20 years,” Titus said. “Why do we need to start a new arms race?”

South Dakota Republican Sen. Mike Rounds said the nuclear arms race is already ongoing.

“Our near peer competitors, Russia and China, have continued, they continue to develop nuclear weapons and the delivery systems for them.”

But he’s not sure live nuclear tests are needed.

“We don’t need to have an actual nuclear test in order to gather most of that data today,” he said. “But I want to know why the military would want to do a live test in the future before I make a decision.”

The National Defense Authorization Act likely won’t be finalized until after the November election.

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