NUCLEAR TESTING CONTINUES DESPITE U.S. PROMISES, WORLD
By William Boardman Email address removed
When the United States conducted a nuclear weapons test in Nevada in early December, there was little public fanfare, less national media coverage, and only a smattering of international protest suggesting that the test violated the spirit of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. The Treaty bans "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion."
President Clinton signed the treaty in 1996, but Congress has consistently refused to ratify it, and explicitly voted it down in 1999. In April 2009, in Prague, President Obama promised serious effort on reducing the nuclear danger:
To achieve a global ban on nuclear testing, my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. (Applause.) After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned.
And to cut off the building blocks needed for a bomb, the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends the production of fissile materials intended for use in state nuclear weapons. If we are serious about stopping the spread of these weapons, then we should put an end to the dedicated production of weapons-grade materials that create them. That's the first step.
On December 5, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), part of the U.S. Dept. of Energy, carried out a "subcritical experiment" code-named Pollux that used non-nuclear explosives to test the ongoing "safety and effectiveness of the nation's nuclear weapons," according to the agency.
Subcritical Tests Aren't Nuclear Explosions
NNSA conducted Pollux, its 27th subcritical explosion test, at its Nevada National Security Site near Las Vegas. The most recent, previous subcritical test in this series, code-named Bartolo B, took place February 2, 2011, said an NNSA press release, further explaining that:
Subcritical experiments examine the behavior of plutonium as it is strongly shocked by forces produced by chemical high explosives. Subcritical experiments produce essential scientific data and technical information used to help maintain the safety and effectiveness of the nuclear weapons stockpile. The experiments are subcritical; that is, no critical mass is formed and no self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction can occur; thus, there is no nuclear explosion.
Perhaps the first formal objection to the NNSA nuclear weapons test came from the Japan Council Against A & H Bombs (Gensuikyo), which sent a note of protest directly to President Obama, saying:
"Whether it involves an explosion or not, nuclear testing runs counter to the spirit of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the agreement of achieving the "peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons" reached by the 2010 NPT [Nuclear Proliferation Treaty] Review Conference.
"Your administration seeks non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. But your position of urging most others to renounce nuclear weapons, while continuing your own nuclear tests, does not stand by reason nor is it supported by the world public."-"-
""-In the name of the A-bomb survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and on behalf of the people of Japan, the only A-bombed country, we call on you to cancel all plans of nuclear testing and make a sincere effort to achieve a total ban on nuclear weapons and a world without nuclear weapons.""-