U.S. Discussed Carrying Out First Nuclear Test in Decades, Report Says

It was ultimately decided to take other measures in response to alleged threats posed by Russia and China and avoid a resumption of testing

Reuters
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U.S. President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders’ summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019.
U.S. President Donald Trump meets with China's President Xi Jinping at the start of their bilateral meeting at the G20 leaders’ summit in Osaka, Japan, June 29, 2019.Credit: Kevin Lamarque / REUTERS
Reuters

The Trump administration discussed last week whether to conduct its first nuclear test explosion since 1992, the Washington Post reported late on Friday, citing a senior official and two former officials familiar with the matter.

The topic surfaced at a meeting of senior officials representing the top national security agencies after accusations from the administration that Russia and China are conducting low-yield nuclear tests, the Washington Post said.

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The meeting, however, did not conclude with any agreement to conduct a nuclear test. A decision was ultimately made to take other measures in response to threats posed by Russia and China and avoid a resumption of testing, the report added.

U.S. officials could not be reached immediately for a comment.

In April, the U.S. State Department issued a report saying that China may have secretly set off low-level underground nuclear test explosions despite claiming to observe an international pact banning such blasts.

U.S. concerns about Beijing's possible breaches of a "zero yield" standard for test blasts have been prompted by activities at China's Lop Nur nuclear test site throughout 2019, the State Department report said.

Zero yield refers to a nuclear test in which there is no explosive chain reaction of the type ignited by the detonation of a nuclear warhead.

"China's possible preparation to operate its Lop Nur test site year-round, its use of explosive containment chambers, extensive excavation activities at Lop Nur and a lack of transparency on its nuclear testing activities ... raise concerns regarding its adherence to the zero yield standard," the report said, without providing evidence of a low-yield test.

Beijing's lack of transparency included blocking data transmissions from sensors linked to a monitoring center operated by the international agency that verifies compliance with a treaty banning nuclear test explosions.

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