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US President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un signed an agreement in 2018 with the aim to improve relations between the two nations and work toward denuclearisation in the Korean Peninsula. But new discussions around US nuclear test explosions could rattle the progress America has made toward creating ties with North Korea.
US nuclear tests were reportedly discussed at a meeting between senior officials representing top national security agencies in America according to the Washington Post.
Stephen Herzog, a fellow at Harvard University’s Project on Managing the Atom and a former US Department of Energy nuclear testing specialist, said by going ahead with any possible nuclear testing it will agitate negotiations with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
He told Express.co.uk: “A US nuclear test would be viewed as an act of aggression in Pyongyang that would almost certainly undermine denuclearisation talks.
“It would also help to legitimise North Korea’s six nuclear explosive tests and any future tests.”
Mr Herzog explained how in 2018 the North Korean leader pledged to sign a moratorium on nuclear tests, which temporarily prohibits the activity.
This would have stopped North Korea testing nuclear weapons but the moratorium has stalled in the last few years.
Mr Herzog added: “The regime also allegedly destroyed its nuclear testing tunnels at the Punggye-ri test site, although there has been no international verification of their inoperability.
“Earlier this year, Kim said that the moratorium was no longer binding because of the failure of diplomacy with the Trump administration–most notably in Hanoi in February 2019.”
Last week, US Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said the Trump administration stands ready to resume talks with North Korea.
But North Korea has not shown much interest in doing so according to Mr Herzog.
Earlier this year Kim Jong-un said he would end the suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests put in place during negotiations with the US.
The North Korean leader threatened to introduce a new strategic weapon in the near future.
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Twenty-three years ago, 184 nations signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty after concerns were raised over the dangers of nuclear testing.
The agreement bans all nuclear tests for both military and civilian purposes.
However, the treaty will not enter into force until it is endorsed by eight key states including the US.
Mr Herzog explained it would be unwise for the Trump administration to reintroduce nuclear tests because they “threaten global security, destabilise international politics, and damage the environment”.
He added: “If the US resumes testing, the norm against nuclear test explosions will sharply erode.
“Testing would no longer be the type of activity associated only with pariah states like North Korea.
“At this point, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would be in dire straits.”
China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the US all need to take further action for the treaty to enter into force.
Mr Herzog added: “States like China, India, and Pakistan would have little incentive to ratify the treaty if the US started testing again.
“States like Russia that are parties to the treaty would have reasons to reconsider their participation.”
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