Earlier this month, TIME Magazine published an alarming story detailing the Trump administration’s escalating nuclear arms race, referencing Trump’s own words in his State of the Union speech where he said he wants to rebuild America’s nuclear arsenal to the point where it’s “so strong and powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression.”
Trump nuclear-tinged rhetoric is nothing new but there was a specific portion of the article that raised eyebrows. Citing an unnamed National Nuclear Security Administration official, the piece asserted that Trump may restart nuclear bomb testing in the Nevada desert — not for the sake of scientific testing but for the sake of showing off nuclear strength.
But the purpose of such a detonation, which the Administration labels “a simple test, with waivers and simplified processes,” would not be to ensure that the nation’s most powerful weapons were in operational order, or to check whether a new type of warhead worked, a TIME review of nuclear-policy documents has found. Rather, a National Nuclear Security Administration official tells TIME, such a test would be “conducted for political purposes.”
When Nevada Governor Brain Sandoval caught wind of the report, he rushed to address the startling claims.
“That was a story that I woke up to and was immediately on the phone,” Sandoval said at a Board of Examiners meeting, according to The Nevada Independent. “And again, having several conversations with individuals in Washington … I’ve received absolute, 100 percent confirmation that there will not be testing of that coming.”
As The Nevada Independent points out, although there hasn’t been a nuclear test conducted by the U.S. since 1992, a skeleton crew still remains at the Nevada National Security Site in Nye County where nuclear bombs were repeatedly detonated during the Cold War. According to TIME’s story, the Trump administration ordered the Department of Energy to be ready for testing within six months.
“The actual information in the [TIME article] simply reports what most of us has been hearing for the last 10 months or so — that there’s a policy review, a consideration on whether nuclear arms development should proceed, and if it proceeds, is testing necessary?” Robert Halstead of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects told the Independent. “The old question that for 25 years we’ve answered no [is] that testing is not necessary to verify the capability of the existing nuclear arsenal.”
Critics agree that any resumption of nuclear testing by the Trump administration would be met with fierce opposition from politicians and activists alike.
Featured image via KCLU