You may say he is a dreamer, but he’s not the only one.
Out of the blue the Obama administration’s Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz are calling for a new round of talks in an attempt to revive the nuclear test ban treaty that the Senate nixed in 1999.
After giving Iran the green light to develop its own nuclear weapons at some time in the vague future — after Obama is out of office presumably — now seems like an odd time to resurrect Obama’s youthful, naifish dream of a nuke free world.
“I don’t think I was that unique at that time,” Obama has since said of his 1983 article in a Columbia University publication calling for for nuke-free world, “and I don’t think I’m that unique today in thinking that if we could put the genie back in the bottle, in some sense, that there would be less danger — not just to the United States but to people around the world.”
There hasn’t been a full-blown, so to speak, nuclear weapon test at the Nevada Test Site since 1992, according to a Review-Journal article by Keith Rogers.
“From 1951 through 1992, the test site’s role focused on full-scale tests of nuclear weapons. During that time, 100 were conducted in the atmosphere until the Limited Test Ban Treaty took effect in 1963. That was followed by 828 that rumbled through the desert after they were set off below ground in shafts and tunnels,” Rogers writes. “The last one, Divider, was conducted on Sept. 23, 1992. What followed was a moratorium that has been extended indefinitely.”
But what has followed are underground subcritical tests. There have been at least two dozen of those.
But those apparently would not violate a nuclear test ban treaty. According to Lawrence Livermore scientists, in these experiments chemical high explosives are detonated next to samples of weapons-grade plutonium to obtain information about what happens to the plutonium in a matter of microseconds. No critical mass is formed — no self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction or detonation.
Earlier this summer the Air Force did drop a dummy nuke bomb at the Tonopah Test Range. The tests are designed to assure the continued reliability of the weapon’s parts.
According to Politico, shortly after Kerry and Moniz started talking about a test ban treaty, Sen. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas Republican called the effort “almost comical.”
“It wasn’t in our national security interests then, it’s not in our interests now, and it won’t be in the future,” Cotton was quoted as saying in a statement. “If the Obama administration intends to ‘reopen’ the discussion over Senate ratification of the CTBT (Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty) then I intend to ‘reopen’ the fight against it.”
How confident are we that our current nuclear weapons still work as intended after all these decades? Just asking.