Saturday, March 31, 2012

U.S. can maintain nuclear arms without tests

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A study by the National Academy of Sciences has found that the U.S. can maintain its nuclear arsenal without resuming the testing program it suspended nearly 20 years ago, addressing a key issue in the debate over ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The study also found that monitoring networks would likely detect even relatively small nuclear blasts in most parts of the world, apparently countering concerns that other nations could cheat on the agreement without getting caught.

President Barack Obama's has repeatedly called for Senate ratification of the treaty, most recently in a speech at the nuclear security summit in Seoul. The president has made arms control and nonproliferation central to his foreign policy and has pledged to work for a world free of nuclear weapons. The Associated Press reported in February that the administration is looking at plans to reduce the number of U.S.-deployed nuclear weapons by up to 80 percent.

Some Senate Republicans, though, have raised doubts that the aging U.S. arsenal could be counted on to work without periodic testing and have expressed concern that other countries might overtake the U.S. through clandestine nuclear tests. Read More