36 members of congress call for ban on explosive nuclear testing

Military Tech

A nuclear blast detonated at the Nevada Test Site in the 1950s.

MYSTERY WIRE — Today Representative Dina Titus of Nevada’s First Congressional District led an effort with 35 of her House colleagues to call for a ban on explosive nuclear weapons testing in the finalized the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act.

The House of Representatives passed the FY 2021 NDAA by a veto-proof majority with language authored by Congresswoman Titus to prevent the Trump Administration from conducting an explosive nuclear weapons test.

The Senate version of the NDAA makes at least $10 million available for the United States to conduct an explosive nuclear weapons test.

In a new letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, Congresswoman Titus and 35 of her colleagues write:

“The United States conducted more than 1,000 nuclear weapons tests between 1945 to 1992. These tests produced nuclear radiation which caused cancer and premature death for thousands of Americans across the West and produced harmful, enduring impacts on the groundwater and surrounding environment. Fortunately, for the last 24 years, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its nuclear weapons laboratories have certified that our nuclear weapons stockpile remains safe, secure, and reliable without conducting such tests. In fact, our lab directors have assessed that the United States knows more about our nuclear stockpile through the Stockpile Stewardship Program than we did during the era of testing.”

Specifically, the House National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021:

  • Bans Explosive Nuclear Weapons Testing: by prohibiting the Trump Administration from conducting a nuclear weapons test that produces any yield with language from PLANET Act introduced in the House by Congresswoman Titus.
  • Protects the Desert National Wildlife Refuge: by ensuring the continued management of the DNWR by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through an amendment backed by the Nevada delegation.
  • Reducing Threats of Weapons of Mass Destruction Around the World: by requiring the federal government to report on and prioritize its work to keep weapons of mass destruction out of terrorists’ reach and reducing the global supply of weapons of mass destruction through an amendment introduced by Congresswoman Titus.
  • Gives Our Troops a Pay Raise & Protects Their Safety: by authorizing a 3 percent military pay raise, investing in housing improvements for military members and families and advancing justice in safety with improvements to sexual assault prevention and response.
  • Strengthens America’s Health & Economic Security: with important fixes to expand paid parental leave for certain federal civilian employees inadvertently omitted originally, initiatives to combat the climate crisis, and proactively strengthening our nation’s defenses to future pandemics, including with a $1 billion Pandemic Preparedness and Resilience National Security Fund.
  • Responds to the COVID-19 Pandemic: by supporting NATO’s multinational response to the pandemic and provides funds to the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program with an increased focus on cooperative biological engagement to detect and confront biological threats.
  • Provides for Removing the Names of Confederates from Our Military Bases: by requiring DOD to identify, report on a process and change the names of all military bases and infrastructure named for individuals who took up arms against America by serving in the Confederacy, with the process to be completed in one year. Also prohibits the public display of the Confederate flag on Department of Defense installations.
  • Creates a More Diverse Military: by establishing Chief Diversity Officers throughout the military, and creating initiatives for increasing representation of women and minorities in the military services.
  • Advances our Values: by prohibiting use of DOD funds to provide support to the Saudi-led coalition for strikes in Yemen, and limiting the funding under the national emergency military construction authority to prevent its misuse on the President’s wasteful border wall.

The letter is below:

Dear Chairman Smith, Chairman Inhofe, Ranking Member Thornberry, and Ranking Member Reed,

As you work to finalize the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), we urge you to retain the McAdams-Titus-Gabbard Amendment of H.R. 6395, the House-passed FY 2021 NDAA, which would prohibit funding to conduct new explosive nuclear weapons testing in Fiscal Year 2021.

As you are aware, it has been reported that, earlier this year, senior Trump administration officials discussed conducting explosive nuclear weapons tests and claimed that such a test could strengthen U.S. negotiating leverage in possible future arms control talks with Russia and China. Since 1992, Republican and Democratic administrations have abided by a moratorium on explosive nuclear testing in the United States. In 1996, the U.S. signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, committing not to conduct a nuclear weapons test of any yield. While the United States Senate has not yet ratified the CTBT, we led the adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2310 in 2016, which calls upon all countries, including the United States, not to defeat the object and purpose of the CTBT by conducting a nuclear test.

The United States conducted more than 1,000 nuclear weapons tests between 1945 to 1992. These tests produced nuclear radiation which caused cancer and premature death for thousands of Americans across the West and produced harmful, enduring impacts on the groundwater and surrounding environment. Fortunately, for the last 24 years, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and its nuclear weapons laboratories have certified that our nuclear weapons stockpile remains safe, secure, and reliable without conducting such tests. In fact, our lab directors have assessed that the United States knows more about our nuclear stockpile through the Stockpile Stewardship Program than we did during the era of testing. 

We must not provide foreign nations with justification to openly conduct nuclear test explosions while imposing immense financial and health costs on the American people. With the McAdams-Titus-Gabbard amendment’s inclusion in the final NDAA, we can continue to ensure the safety and reliability of our nuclear stockpile without opening the door to widespread global testing. The United States will be safer for it.

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