The Washington Post, citing a senior official and two former officials familiar with the matter, said that the administration of President Donald Trump discussed last week whether to conduct its first nuclear test since 1992.
But the report said that the meeting did not reach any agreement to conduct a nuclear test, and said that a decision was taken in the end to take other measures in response to the threats posed by Russia and China and to avoid the resumption of testing.
During the meeting, serious differences arose about the idea, particularly from the National Nuclear Security Administration, according to two people familiar with the discussions.
The United States has not had any nuclear detonation test since September 1992, and nonproliferation advocates have warned that doing so now could have destabilizing consequences.
"This will be an invitation to other nuclear-armed states to follow suit in Washington, and it will be the starting shot for an unprecedented nuclear arms race," said Daryl Kimble, executive director of the Arms Control Association. Negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who may not feel compelled to respect the moratorium on nuclear tests, can also be suspended.
The United States is still the only country to have used nuclear weapons in wartime, but since 1945, at least eight countries have collectively conducted nearly 2,000 nuclear tests, and the United States has conducted more than 1,000 tests.
Trump's presidential envoy, Marshall Billingsley, warned that China is in the midst of a massive accumulation of its nuclear arsenal and is determined to build its nuclear forces and the use of those forces in an attempt to intimidate the United States, our friends and allies.
He said one US official said the nuclear test could help put pressure on China to join the tripartite agreement with the United States and Russia, but some of the advocates of nuclear nonproliferation argue that such a move is fraught with danger.
"If this administration believes that conducting a nuclear test will force the negotiating partners to make concessions unilaterally, this is a dangerous trick," Kimble said.