Republicans Move to Strip Away Nuclear Test Ban Funding via The Daily Beast

Experts say a bill filed by Sen. Tom Cotton would trigger similar actions by other nuclear-weapon states—and undermine U.S. national security.

Two close congressional allies of President Donald Trump have proposed to defund the international organization that monitors and helps to prevent nuclear-weapons tests.

S. 332, the bill filed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), would “restrict funding for the preparatory commission for the comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty.” Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, also a Republican, has proposed a companion resolution.

The effect of the bill, were it to become law, would be to strip away potentially all of the roughly $30 million the United States provides annually to the Vienna-based Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, which employs 260 people from 70 countries. The U.S. contribution accounts for around a quarter of the commission’s yearly budget.


The commission runs a global network of 337 nuclear monitoring stations to help enforce the treaty’s ban on atomic explosions. The ban “makes it very difficult for countries to develop nuclear bombs for the first time, or for countries that already have them, to make more powerful bombs,” the commission explains on its website. “It also prevents the huge damage caused by radioactivity from nuclear explosions to humans, animals and plants.”

“Any move by the United States toward reducing commitment to the CTBT or resuming nuclear testing would without doubt trigger similar actions in other nuclear weapon states,” Hans Kristensen, the director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists in New York City, told The Daily Beast. “Such a development would undermine U.S. national security and international efforts to restrain nuclear weapons development.”


In September 2016, the UN Security Council passed a resolution urging hold-out countries to ratify the test-ban treaty. The United States voted in favor of the resolution.

Wilson has portrayed his defunding measure as a common-sense reform. “Congress never ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, so it is only logical that we should no longer fund the preparatory commission for its implementation,” Wilson said in a statement.

The congressman’s lack of concern over nuclear proliferation is consistent with Trump’s own atomic nonchalance. Trump has urged Japan and South Korea to develop nuclear weapons and threatened to scrap the international deal with Iran that limited that country’s atomic bomb program. In a phone call with Russian president Vladimir Putin on Feb. 9, Trump derided New START, the 2011 treaty that limits the United States and Russia to 1,500 deployed nuclear warheads apiece.


Lewis said Cotton and Wilson’s bill is, in part, a thinly veiled attack on the pro-ban United Nations, another institution Trump has attacked. “Can you imagine hating the U.N. so much that you’re willing to kick yourself in your own nuts?” Lewis said. “This is madness.”

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