National policy Statement

03.2 Nuclear Weapons Testing

Adopted by the Council on April 04, 2003

Revision Approved by the Council on November 09, 2018

The American Physical Society reaffirms its April 1997 position that nuclear weapons testing is not required to retain confidence in the safety, security, and reliability of the current US nuclear weapons stockpile. The Society also believes it is essential for any US administration planning to resume nuclear explosion testing to provide adequate and timely information to members of Congress and the public — including reasons for the test — to allow informed analysis by experts and public discussion.

Context

The United States has not conducted a nuclear explosion test since 1992. To achieve an indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1995, the United States, Russia, China, France, and the United Kingdom agreed to pursue a permanent ban on such tests. Resumption of testing would likely have serious, negative international consequences undermining the NPT regime. Maintaining the integrity of the NPT, under which 190 countries agree not to acquire nuclear weapons, is a vital element in uniting the world to contain, reduce, and eventually eliminate the danger from nuclear weapons.

However, the possibility of resumed nuclear explosion testing has been debated in the United States as recently as 2018. Following the end of such testing in 1992, the United States established the Stockpile Stewardship Program to ensure the continued viability of the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Since then, the Directors of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Laboratories and the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command have overseen rigorous annual assessments of each nuclear weapon type and have determined that our country’s nuclear weapons stockpile is safe, reliable, and effective in each of the 30 annual assessments conducted thus far.

The review process for any statement may be started at any time if deemed necessary by the Panel on Public Affairs, and at least once every five years.

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