"As Congress now works on the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2021, members should include a provision that prohibits any funding for a US nuclear test," the Arms Control Association said on Tuesday.
Last month, Trump administration officials raised the prospect of conducting the first US nuclear test in 28 years in an attempt to pressure Russia and China into negotiating a trilateral arms control deal, according to media reports.
Senator Ed Markey introduced in early June the Preserving Leadership Against Nuclear Explosives Testing (PLANET) Act to prohibit restarting nuclear weapons testing by restricting funds for fiscal year 2021. In addition, lawmakers Steven Horsford and Dina Titus introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives on 8 June.
However, the Arms Control Association said the Senate Armed Services Committee approved in a party-line vote on 11 June an amendment to the fiscal year 2021 NDAA by Sen. Tom Cotton to authorize $10 million to execute a nuclear test if necessary.
"Such a test could be conducted in a matter of a few months underground at the former Nevada Test Site outside of Las Vegas," it said.
The Arms Control Association said a nuclear would in reality do nothing to rein in Russian and Chinese nuclear arsenals or improve the environment for negotiations, but would instead raise tensions and probably trigger an outbreak of nuclear testing by other nuclear actors, leading to an all-out global arms race in which everyone would come out a loser.
In May, Chinese foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Beijing is concerned over reports that Washington is weighing up whether to conduct its first nuclear test since 1992, adding that China expects the United States to comply with its obligations under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The CTBT was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1996, but has not entered into force as several nations, including the United States, have not yet ratified the accord. All European countries, including Russia France and the United Kingdom, have ratified the treaty.