Santa Fe -- Los Alamos National Lab's (LANL's) latest subcritical
nuclear test, named "Stagecoach" and scheduled for detonation at the
Nevada Test Site on March 25, 1998, has been officially condemned by
the European Parliament (EP), which states such tests "violate the spirit
of the [Comprehensive Test Ban] treaty." In its February resolution,
the EP asserts that the United States' ongoing nuclear experiments "place
into jeopardy" the treaty's future.
Two subcritical tests were detonated in Nevada in 1997, and three more
are planned after Stagecoach in 1998.
In response to the tests' threat to the international disarmament effort,
the EP "calls on the U.S. government to halt the series of sub-critical
tests and calls on all governments to refrain
from carrying out such tests." [emphasis added]
The scheduled test is deemed "subcritical" because, although it will
blast plutonium with over 250 pounds of high explosives, it will not
produce a sustained nuclear chain reaction.
The Department of Energy claims that subcritical nuclear experiments
are "fully consistent with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty." The
EP, however, believes otherwise. Its reasons include:
- Despite U.S. assurances that the tests are simply to enhance the
reliability of its present nuclear arsenal, "critics of the programme
claim that the tests also can be used to create new types of warheads"
in direct violation of the CTBT.
- An ongoing series of U.S. nuclear weapons experiments creates a
"crisis of confidence" in the global community of treaty adherents.
In addition to the EP, at least fifteen countries have publicly
expressed their concern about, or opposition to, continued U.S. nuclear
- Unceasing U.S. tests, flaunting the hard-won agreements of the
CTBT, "risk reinforcing India and Pakistan in their refusal to [sign],
thus blocking its entry into force, and also reinforcing opposition
to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), especially in these
- "States who have signed the CTBT are bound to ‘refrain from any
action that could defeat its object and purpose,'" and "whereas the
[sub-critical] tests may not be against the letter of the CTBT, [they]
still violate the spirit of the treaty."
Of the three subsequent U.S. nuclear tests to be conducted this year,
"Cimmaron" will be another LANL design, while "Bagpipe" and "Accordion"
will be the products of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Press reports indicate that Russia has begun its own series of subcritical
nuclear experiments at the Novaya Zemlya test site in the Russian Arctic.