The United States sees no reason to resume nuclear trials and has not informed Russia about its intention to un-sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), US Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Marshall Billingslea told reporters on Wednesday following Russian-US talks on strategic stability and arms control in Vienna.
Billingslea said the Russian delegation had sought to understand whether press reports regarding the US plans to un-sign the deal were accurate, TASS reports.
"We maintain and will maintain the ability to conduct nuclear tests if we see any reason to do so, whatever that reason may be. But that said, I am unaware of any particular reason to test at this stage. I won’t shut the door on it because why would we," he said.
The US diplomat said he conveyed this information to the Russian side during the talks in Vienna, adding that his country did not inform Russia about the possibility of un-signing the CTBT.
"I did not go down the path of talking about un-signing the CTBT," Billingslea said. "We did talk about the subject of nuclear testing, absolutely."
The Washington Post wrote on May 22 that "the Trump administration has discussed whether to conduct the first US nuclear test explosion since 1992." "The matter came up at a meeting of senior officials representing the top national security agencies May 15, following accusations from administration officials that Russia and China are conducting low-yield nuclear tests - an assertion that has not been substantiated by publicly available evidence and that both countries have denied," the newspaper added. According to the Washington Post, "the meeting did not conclude with any agreement to conduct a test, but a senior administration official said the proposal is ‘very much an ongoing conversation’." Defense News reported later, citing Drew Walter, who is performing the duties of deputy assistant US secretary of defense for nuclear matters, that "a very quick test with limited diagnostics" could occur "within months" if ordered by the US president.
The CTBT outlaws the explosions of nuclear warheads and nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes. The ban applies to testing in all media (atmospheric, outer space, underwater and underground tests) and is absolute and comprehensive. The UN General Assembly session approved the CTBT on September 24, 1996. By now the agreement has been signed by 183 countries, including Russia, but has not taken effect because the United States and some countries have not ratified it to this day.