With rumors abound of the Trump administration considering taking steps to start live nuclear testing, which the US has not done since 1992, House Democrats have added a measure to a 2021 spending bill prohibiting funding for live tests.
The House Appropriation Committee added a measure to its draft of the 2021 appropriations bill for the Department of Energy that would prohibit funds being used to “conduct, or prepare to conduct, any explosive nuclear weapons test that produces any yield.”
“Critically, the bill would prevent the Trump administration from using any funds to carry out its dangerous and short-sighted plan to resume nuclear testing,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the committee’s chairwoman said in a statement on Monday.
Rumors of the Trump administration considering resuming live nuclear tests surfaced in May when The Washington Post reported senior officials were discussing the possibility of a live test to send a message to Russia and China.
In June, the Senate Armed Services Committee included $10 million to resume live nuclear testing if needed in its version of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Pentagon spending bill. The amendment to the NDAA was proposed by Senator Tom Cotton (R-KY).
The US and Russia started arms control talks in June and are set to pick back up sometime in July or August. The last nuclear arms control agreement between the two powers, the New START is going to expire in February 2021. Russia has offered to extend the treaty, but the US insists on making a new deal with China being involved. However, Beijing has repeatedly rejected the idea of a trilateral agreement since its nuclear arsenal is much smaller than Washington’s and Moscow’s.
Marshall Billingslea, President Trump’s envoy for arms control, has signaled that the US is ready for a new arms race. In May, Billingslea said the US is willing to spend Russia and China “into oblivion” to win a new arms race.