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KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. - (AP)
The commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center says the United States doesn't need to test nuclear weapons at this point, but will in the future.
"Eventually we will because no matter what you do, a 1957 Chevy is not going to drive right in 2030," Brig. Gen. Everett H. Thomas told the Albuquerque Journal in a copyright story published Sunday. "I don't care how many pieces and parts you replace, you will eventually have to replace that 1957 Chevy — unless you just want it as a historic relic where people come by and see it. That's the analogy, absent testing."
Nuclear weapons testing is banned by treaty, leaving the United States the challenge of modernizing nuclear weapons without actually testing them.
Congress has been reluctant to fund new nuclear weapons research, since critics contend research is geared only toward development. That means most of the Nuclear Weapons Center's resources will be spent maintaining the nation's current nuclear arsenal.
Deterrence has a place, Thomas said. Nuclear weapons provide insurance to allies who don't have technological expertise or desire to have nuclear weapons and a guarantee against outside aggression to nations that could produce such weapons but choose not to, he said.
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