02:07 GMT08 August 2020
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    Earlier this month, the US Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) advanced a measure which would reduce the time needed to conduct a nuclear test. Meanwhile, in an alarming move, the Pentagon is seeking more control over nuclear weapons funding, Kevin Kamps, the Radioactive Waste Watchdog at the organization Beyond Nuclear, told Sputnik Wednesday.

    The nuclear test amendment, which was offered by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), would provide at least $10 million “to carry out projects related to reducing the time required to execute a nuclear test if necessary,” according to a June 15 report by The Hill, citing a copy of the measure.

    Kamps told Loud & Clear host Nicole Roussell that Cotton is “the warhawk in the US Senate who got $10 million for fast-prep for nuclear weapons testing in Nevada. This is something that was broken by the Washington Post back in mid-May, that the Trump administration at the highest levels is discussing resuming nuclear weapons testing, supposedly to force the Chinese and the Russians to the negotiating table.

    “It’s going to lead to a global nuclear arms race, is what it’s going to do.”

    “So there’s a real fight on to try to stop this $10 million in the National Defense Authorization Act from going through, and there’s hope, because the Nevada congressional delegation - they want none of this. Their people have already suffered since 1951 under the fallout from the nuclear test site. So hopefully on the House side, this can be nipped in the bud, but the fight is on,” Kamps explained.

    According to a July 1 article by the Las Vegas Review Journal, Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV), as well as Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), recently filed a bill to prevent the Trump administration from being able to test a nuclear weapon without authorization from the legislature.

    “The decision to conduct an explosive nuclear test should not be made without congressional approval,” Cortez Masto said.

    In addition, the SASC has proposed a change to nuclear weapons budget formation that would give the Department of Defense a much bigger say in funding for nuclear arms matters.

    Under Section 3111 of the SASC’s proposed National Defense Authorization Act, the Pentagon, which leads the Nuclear Weapons Council, would have a stronger hand in the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) budget development, Defense News reported. The NNSA is an agency within the Department of Energy that oversees the US’ nuclear warheads.

    Under the proposal, NNSA’s budget would “still be built within” the Energy Department, Defense News reported. However, instead of being sent to the executive branch’s Office of Management and Budget, which is responsible for the government budget process, the budget request would instead be first given to the Nuclear Weapons Council for editing and approval. It would then be sent back to the Department of Energy.

    “Apparently the Pentagon is trying to take over nuclear weapons budgeting away from the Department of Energy. And so the question there is: what about civilian control of the US military? What about civilian control of the US nuclear weapons arsenal? It’s just a very alarming power grab by the Pentagon, and there was even some concern expressed by Trump higher-ups,” Kamps said.

    “Nuclear weapons testing is just a non-starter, so hopefully there will be a groundswell of opposition to any notion of that happening,” Kamps added.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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    nuclear arms, Pentagon, nuclear
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