The Senate Armed Services Committee has advanced an amendment aimed at reducing the amount of time it would take to carry out a nuclear test.
The amendment, offered by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), would make at least $10 million available to “carry out projects related to reducing the time required to execute a nuclear test if necessary,” according to a copy of the measure obtained by The Hill on Monday.
The amendment was approved in a party-line, 14-13 vote during the committee’s closed-door markup of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last week, a congressional aide said.
Asked about Cotton’s amendment, a committee spokesperson said the bill text “should be” available “soon.”
Cotton’s amendment comes after the Trump administration reportedly raised the prospect of resuming nuclear testing as a negotiating tactic in efforts to secure a trilateral nuclear agreement with Russia and China.
The Washington Post reported last month that the idea of conducting the United States’s first nuclear test in decades was raised at a May 15 meeting of senior officials. One official told the Post the idea for a test is “very much an ongoing conversation,” while another official said a decision was made to avoid resuming testing.
The Trump administration, without evidence, has also in recent months accused Russia and China of conducting very low-yield tests.
The United States has adhered to a moratorium even as it has not ratified a United Nations agreement to ban testing known as the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The treaty has not been ratified by enough countries to enter into force, but major world powers have followed its main tenet of ending nuclear tests.
Read more at Senate panel approves $10M to prepare for nuclear test ‘if necessary’