By Daryl G. Kimball
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has just released a new video and blogpost on the role of their supercomputers in the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship program–a role that has grown by leaps and bounds over the past 15 years or so.
One message that comes across is that the nuclear weapons labs know more about the physics of nuclear weapons today than they did in the days of nuclear test explosions … and that old myths and assertions about the necessity of nuclear test explosions need to be revisited.
For instance, back in 1992 when we were all using 5 1/4 inch floppy disks, dial-up internet, and black and white computer monitors, then-Rep. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) claimed, “[A]s long as we have a nuclear deterrent, we have got to test it in order to ensure that it is safe and it is reliable.” He was speaking in opposition to the legislation that was approved later that year that mandated a 9-month moratorium on U.S. nuclear testing, a move designed to match the Russian test moratorium and help wind down the Cold War.
It has now been nearly two decades after the last United States nuclear test blast (in September 1992) and it is abundantly clear that Kyl’s assertions about the need for continued nuclear testing are wrong.
It is yet another reminder that today Senators should take another look at the national security value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and, when they do, they should consider the new evidence in support of approval, rather than old beliefs and assumptions from the last century.
For more on the growing logic and bipartisan support in favor of U.S. ratification of the CTBT see the Project for the CTBT Web page and ACA’s 2010 report “Now More Than Ever: The Case for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.”