Alamos National Laboratory performs subcritical nuclear test at
Nevada Test Site
Japanese demand disclosure of secret
nuclear weapons provisions in U.S.-Japanese Security Treaty
*On the eve of the Nuclear Proliferation
Treaty review, the United States government set off yet another
subcritical nuclear test at the Nevada Test Site. This latest
one was nicknamed 'Thoroughbred'.
The Department of Energy performed this 'subcritical' nuclear
test at 11am on March 22nd. 'Subcritical' nuclear tests are
a kind of nuclear test in which an actual nuclear explosion
does not go critical. The U.S. and Russia argue that subcritical
nuclear tests are permitted under the terms of the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty, but antinuclear groups worldwide counter
that subcritical nuclear tests violate the spirit and intent
of the Treaty and enable the further development and modification
of existing nuclear weapons designs. Both the U.S. and Russia
have extensive programs of 'subcritical' nuclear testing.
The "Thouroughbred" test is the second for the year 2000 in
the U.S., and a third is planned in April.
Internationally, this test provoked a number of protests.
Irene Gale of the Australian Peace Committee and John Hallam
of Friends of the Earth stated, "It is especially inappropriate
for the US and Russia to proceed with subcritical nuclear
tests aimed at the further development and optimisation of
nuclear weapons designs, on the eve of the review conference
of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Article VI of the
Treaty asks the nuclear weapons states to negotiate immediately
to eliminate their nuclear arsenals, yet subcritical nuclear
testing in either the US or Russia, assumes that those arsenals
are going to be around for the foreseeable future. This review
conference is generally conceded by all, to likely be difficult.
The difficulty arises precisely because of the failure of
the nuclear weapons powers to fulfill their clear obligations
under article VI of the Treaty. Subcritical nuclear testing
is hardly going to make things easier. What is required on
the part of the nuclear weapons powers is to negotiate in
good faith to eliminate their nuclear arsenals. Initiatives
are urgently required that will reinvigorate what was once
a hopeful process of nuclear arms reduction and elimination.
Australia has a part to play in this, and we are not playing
it as long as we sit on the sidelines and act as an apologist
for the weapons states."
In Japan, the atomic bomb survivors organization of Hiroshima
staged a sit-in at Peace Memorial Park and sent a letter to
Japan's Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi requesting that the Japanese
government oppose all nuclear testing. The A-bomb survivors'
organization in Nagasaki likewise sent a letter to President
Clinton, appealing that "All you must do is accept the responsibility
for the tragedy caused by the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima
and Nagasaki, apologize to, and work for abolishing nuclear
weapons not to repeat the same tragedy."
*In other news in Japan, the newspaper Akahata appealed to Japan's
prime minister last week, demanding that he make public nuclear
weapons agreements that allegedly are part of the 1960 Security
Treaty between Japan and the United States. The newspaper references
several declassified U.S. documents, which suggest that the Security
Treaty contained secret provisions allowing that U.S. nuclear
weapons be stationed on Japanese territory.
So far the Japanese government has maintained that installing
U.S. nuclear weapons on Japanese territory would be 'subject to
prior consultation' with the U.S. government under the terms of
the treaty. But some Japanese argue that the U.S. nuclear weapons
may enter Japanese ports and airports temporarily while transiting
the country, and that these weapons movements are not subject
to prior consultation under the treaty guidelines. A 1961 recently
declassified U.S. State department internal document states that
"while our treaty arrangements with Japan require formal consultation
before nuclear weapons are 'introduced' into Japan, the Japanese
government has confidentially agreed, in effect, that weapons
on vessels and aircraft on transit through Japan are none of its
Japanese opposition leaders are pressing their government to stage
a thorough public investigation into the matter.
Back to News Index