Remember when we were all told that somehow President Trump is actually Putin’s “useful tool” and Russian “asset”? For those keeping track, first Trump dumped the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), then as of Friday he nixed the Open Skies Treaty, and now even New Start is said to be on the chopping block.
And now it’s the very same newspaper that peddled Russia-Trump drivel for years (among many others) revealing the administration is actually exploring conducting a nuclear test for the first time in 28 years ultimately as a “message” to Russia and China.
The Washington Post reports it was under serious discussion during a last Friday (May 15) “deputies meeting” of senior national security officials at the White House.
The proposal is said to have been shelved for the time being, or as one Congressional aide criticized bitingly: “There are still some professionals in the room who told them this is a terrible idea, thank God.”
According to an anonymous senior administration official cited in The Post the proposed US “rapid test” could provide clear leverage in arms negotiations with Russia and China for a White House conceived trilateral arms control deal. Admin officials have long said, whether related to the INF or New Start, the old Cold War and post-Cold War era treaties remain insufficient in terms of taking into account rapid advances in technology thought to be in the hands of especially China – a central rationale for the United States’ controversial exit from the INF.
Though there’s little to no affirmative evidence, as Beijing officials like to remind the world, Washington has of late charged both Russia and China with ‘illegally’ conducting low-yield nuclear tests, which both countries have denied. In Beijing’s case it’s believed China’s military is able to conceal such provocative tests at an elaborate underground testing facility.
A senior admin official told The Post the idea of a US test is “very much an ongoing conversation.”
Elsewhere former defense officials with knowledge of the discussions blasted the deliberations: “They discussed underground testing in the context of trying to bring China to the table for the trilateral agreement,” a former official cited in The Guardian said.
“Among the professionals in the administration, the idea was dismissed as unworkable and dumb. The NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] is definitely not on board. And it seemed like that state [department] wasn’t on board either,” the official criticized.
There hasn’t been an American nuclear test (that’s officially known about at least) since 1992, upon the end of the Cold War and collapse of the USSR in the year prior.