Sign the Petition: Demand Congress Prohibit Funds for Nuclear Testing!
The Trump administration may end the moratorium on nuclear weapons tests for the first time in decades. This would be a dangerous, reckless action. The Cold War was not that long ago and talks of testing puts us at greater risk of those dark days when children in schools had drills for possible attacks.
The good news is Trump can’t resume nuclear testing on his own. Testing these weapons takes money, and the US Congress would need to authorize the spending.
Congress must pass legislation prohibiting funding for nuclear testing. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) has introduced the Preserving Leadership Against Nuclear Explosives Testing (PLANET) Act which would prohibit the use of funds for an explosive nuclear weapons test.
According to breaking reports, the Trump administration may end the moratorium on nuclear weapons tests and begin exploding nuclear bombs — for the first time in decades.
This would be a dangerous, reckless action. If the US resumes nuclear testing, for any reason, we can be certain that other nuclear-armed nations like Russia, China, India, and Pakistan will follow in these footsteps. With multiple nuclear-armed governments competing for advantage, dangerous new weapons systems ready for development, and risks of nuclear conflict (intentional or otherwise) at an all-time high, it would trigger a global nuclear arms race. The darkest days of the Cold War would look quaint by comparison.
The good news is Trump can’t resume nuclear testing on his own. Testing these weapons takes money, and the US Congress would need to authorize this spending. They can starve the administration of the funds they need. But Congress needs to take action by passing legislation to prohibit funding for nuclear testing. Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) has introduced the Preserving Leadership Against Nuclear Explosives Testing (PLANET) Act which would prohibit the use of funds for an explosive nuclear weapons test.
Beyond the Bomb, Global Zero, Coalition for Peace Action, Daily Kos, Friends of the Earth Action, LeftNet, Women’s Action for New Directions, Arms Control Association
OUR MESSAGE TO CONGRESS:
I am writing to urge you to support the PLANET Act, which would prohibit funds for an explosive nuclear weapons test. The health and safety of our global community depend on it!
Why no new nuclear tests? Here are 5 reasons that resuming nuclear testing is dangerous and wrong:
(1) The widespread nuclear tests of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s — underground, underwater, and in the atmosphere — took a staggering humanitarian and environmental toll all over the world. People of color, Indigenous communities, military personnel, and vulnerable workers suffered especially at the hands of leaders all too eager to flex their genocidal capabilities. It is estimated that, to this day, hundreds of thousands of these victims, survivors, and their families continue to suffer this legacy of disability, trauma, disease, and death. We can’t let history repeat itself.
(2) The environmental and humanitarian consequences of nuclear testing are one of the major reasons why the international community committed to a moratorium on testing. The world has shown that it is DONE with nuclear tests — 184 countries have signed an international treaty banning these tests. Over the last several decades, only North Korea has defied this global consensus and continued explosive tests (and recently even Kim Jong Un has stopped).
(3) Over the last 60 years, the world has made steady progress to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and lower the risks they’ll be used. New nuclear testing and a global arms race will unravel all of this work and put hundreds of millions of people in harm’s way. This week alone, the Trump administration has abandoned the Open Skies Treaty, which has helped avoid the kind of mistakes and misunderstandings that risk nuclear conflict between the US and Russia, and signaled a plot to trash New START — the only agreement left that’s keeping both countries from pursuing massive nuclear build-ups.
(4) The US and the world are currently experiencing an unprecedented global crisis with COVID-19 which has shown us that our national priorities are seriously misplaced. Investing in massive nuclear arsenals has left us vulnerable to real public health and national security challenges like pandemics and climate change. We should be testing for COVID-19, not nuclear devastation.
(5) Nuclear testing has inflicted direct and lasting harm on people and communities. It poisons the food we eat, the water we drink, even the air that we breathe. Not just for people in the US, but for everyone, everywhere. The effects of nuclear testing are far-reaching and long-lasting. US nuclear testing would put the entire world at risk.
This is absolutely the wrong move at any time, but particularly in the middle of a deadly pandemic that’s ravaging vulnerable populations, killing hundreds of thousands of people, destroying millions of workers’ livelihoods, and tanking the global economy. Now is the time for society to act together — civil society groups, faith leaders, policymakers, and everyday people.
Senate Committee Approves Funds to Resume Live Nuclear Testing
(June 15, 2020) — A report from Politico Pro revealed the Senate Armed Services Committee set aside $10 million to prepare for live nuclear testing. The Republican majority committee included the funds in the Senate’s version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in a vote that went along party lines. The vote took place last week in a meeting behind closed doors.
The amendment says at least $10 million “shall be made available to carry out projects related to reducing the time required to execute a nuclear test if necessary.” According to Politico Pro, Senator Tom Cotton (R-KY) proposed the provision. The measure will likely face backlash from the Democrat-controlled House, as the two chambers will have to negotiate what is included in the final version of the 2021 NDAA.
In May, The Washington Post reported senior officials in the Trump administration discussed the possibility of starting live nuclear testing to send a message to China and Russia. The US has not conducted a live test since 1992. The report worried arms control advocates, and these new revelations show live tests are under serious consideration in Washington.
The news comes as the US and Russia are set to begin arms control discussions this month. The New START Treaty limits the amount of warheads signatories can have deployed and is the last nuclear arms control agreement between the two powers. The treaty is set to expire in February 2021.
Russia has offered to extend the New START, but the US insists on including China in the deal. Beijing has repeatedly rejected trilateral arms control agreements since the US and Russia have much larger nuclear arsenals than China.
US, Russia Agree To Hold Nuclear Talks in June 2020
(June 8, 2020) — President Trump’s envoy for arms control said the US and Russia agreed to start nuclear arms control talks this month. “Today agreed with the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov on time and place for nuclear arms negotiations in June. China also invited. Will China show and negotiate in good faith?” Marshall Billingslea said on Twitter on Monday. An anonymous US official said the negotiations will start on June 22nd.
The last arms control treaty between the US and Russia, the New START, is set to expire in February 2021. Russia has offered to extend the treaty, but the US insists on including China in the deal. The New START limits the number of nuclear warheads the signatories can have deployed, but China’s nuclear arsenal is much smaller than the US and Russia’s so it is unlikely that China will agree to enter the deal. If the treaty collapses, the US will no longer be able to inspect Russia’s nuclear forces.
China has repeatedly said they do not want to take part in trilateral arms control discussions. Last month, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said the US and Russia “possess the largest nuclear arsenals” and should have a responsibility to reduce them. Current estimates put Beijing’s arsenal at 320 warheads, the US has 3,800 warheads in its stockpile, and Russia has 4,310. The New START caps the number of warheads deployed at 1,550.
If the US lets the New START lapse, it will follow a pattern of the Trump administration withdrawing from arms control agreements. Last year, the administration withdrew from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which prevented the development of medium-range nuclear and ballistic missiles. Most recently, the administration announced its intended withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty, an agreement that allows surveillance flights over the US and Russia.
In the face of crumbling treaties, Washington’s NATO allies are advocating for negotiations and arms control with Russia. “A new armed race will be dangerous and costly, and we’ve continued to work hard for arms control with Russia,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday.
Dave DeCamp is assistant editor at Antiwar.com and a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US foreign policy and wars. He is on Twitter at @decampdave
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