It would take only a matter of months for the Department of Energy to perform an underground nuclear-explosive test with minimal diagnostics, a Pentagon official said Tuesday.
Previous heads of the agency’s semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have talked “about a very quick test with limited diagnostics, though certainly diagnostics, within months,” said Drew Walter, who is performing the duties of deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear matters. “A fuller test, fully diagnostic, and lots of data, all the bells and whistles, so to speak, might be measured in years. But ultimately, if the President directed because of a technical issue or a geopolitical issue, a system to go test, I think it would happen relatively rapidly.”
Walter also said that he believes the NNSA has a borehole at the Nevada National Security Site that would be suitable for such a rapid test.
Walter spoke to members of the press on a webcast hosted by the Washington-based nonprofits the Mitchell Institute and the Advanced Nuclear Weapons Alliance. It was one of the first Washington media events focused on nuclear weapons since the Washington Post on Friday reported that the Trump administration discussed a possible nuclear-explosive test in a May 15 meeting.
NNSA headquarters in Washington did not immediately reply to a request for comment.