Santorum Supports Nuclear Test Resumption

Judy on November 12, 2015
Rick Santorum reiterated his call for resumption of nuclear testing, a step which would add fuel to a new nuclear arms race.

November 12 at the NH State House, former Senator Rick Santorum reiterated his support for resumption of nuclear testing.  He made his comments to me while exiting the building after registering for the New Hampshire Primary.  This follows similar remarks by Santorum to GUI bird dog Will Thomas last July 29 and me on August 3.

The US conducted its last nuclear test in 1992.   President Clinton signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1998, but Congress refused to ratify it.  The CTBT has still not been ratified.  Fortunately, since 1999 the US and all other nuclear powers except North Korea have abided by the CTBT. 

Ratification is still important.  According to Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), the treaty “would make it nearly impossible for any non-nuclear countries to develop a thermonuclear weapon and place limitations on countries that already possess nuclear weapon capabilities.  The treaty is a vital step toward the goal of nuclear non-proliferation.”  Recently, Secretary of State Kerry suggested that it‘s time for the US to finally ratify the CTBT.

Santorum’s call to resume testing is a dangerous step backward.  He justified it by claiming testing is needed to assure the reliability of our nuclear stockpile.  Santorum apparently believes that to protect itself, the US needs to be assured of its continued ability to incinerate the human race.

Leaving aside the twisted logic of the nuclear age, Santorum is just plain wrong about the need for testing to assure reliability of the current stockpile.  The national nuclear lab at Los Alamos certifies the reliability of nuclear weapons annually, based on methods known as “science based stockpile stewardship.”  According to PSR, “Since 1999, computing power has vastly exceeded the performance goals that the Energy Department established as necessary for stockpile stewardship.  It is now possible to successfully maintain the [existing] U.S. nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing.”

Santorum made his comments when I asked about his endorsement of the $1 trillion nuclear weapons modernization program, now underway with the support of both the Obama administration and Congress.  The modernization program includes new nuclear weapons as well as replacement or rebuilding of the entire triad of delivery vehicles – bombers, submarines, and ICBMs.  Proponents have not overtly said that modernization will require testing.  But it may be part of the hidden agenda.  According to the Ploughshares Fund, modernization  “could  require  explosive  testing  of  new  models, which  would  violate  the  CTBT and encourage other states  to  test.”  One more reason to oppose nuclear weapons modernization and push for CTBT ratification.

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