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Picture: 123RF/xiongwu5
Picture: 123RF/xiongwu5

Moscow — Russia is revoking ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty because of the irresponsible attitude of the US to global security, the speaker of the lower house of the Russian parliament said on Tuesday.

President Vladimir Putin said on October 5 that he was not ready to say whether Russia should resume nuclear testing after calls from some Russian security experts and legislators to test a nuclear bomb as a warning to the West.

“In the interests of ensuring the security of our country, we are withdrawing the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said ahead of a debate and parliamentary vote on revoking ratification.

Volodin said that while Russia had ratified the 1996 treaty in 2000, Washington had failed to ratify because of its “irresponsible attitude to global security issues”.

“The Russian Federation will do everything to protect its citizens and to maintain global strategic parity,” he said.

While Russia is revoking ratification, it would remain a signatory and would continue to co-operate with the test ban treaty organisation and the global monitoring system, which alerts the world to any nuclear test.

Russian officials say that the revocation of ratification does not mean Russia is going to test a nuclear bomb and that it is simply coming into line with the US position, though arms control experts are concerned Russia could be inching towards a resumption of nuclear testing.

Post-Soviet Russia has never carried out a nuclear test. The Soviet Union last tested in 1990 and the US in 1992.

In the five decades between 1945 and the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, more than 2,000 nuclear tests were carried out, 1,032 of them by the US and 715 of them by the Soviet Union, according to the UN.


A resumption of nuclear tests by Russia, the US or China could indicate the start of a new nuclear arms race between the big powers which stopped nuclear testing in the years after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

For many scientists and campaigners, the extent of nuclear bomb testing during the Cold War indicated the folly of nuclear brinkmanship, which could ultimately destroy humanity and contaminate the planet for hundreds of thousands of years.

But the Ukraine war has raised tensions between Moscow and Washington to the highest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis just as China seeks to bolster its nuclear arsenal to accord with its status as an emerging superpower.

A bipartisan panel appointed by the US Congress said last week that Washington must prepare for possible simultaneous wars with Moscow and Beijing by expanding its conventional forces, strengthening alliances and enhancing its nuclear weapons modernisation programme.

Putin has dismissed that talk as nonsense and has said that he sees no need to change Russia’s nuclear doctrine — a document that outlines that Russia would only order a strike with nuclear weapons if it was attacked, or if the existence of the state was endangered by an attack with conventional weapons.

“I hear calls to start testing nuclear weapons, to return to testing,” Putin said on October 5. “I am not ready to say whether we really need to conduct tests or not, but it is possible theoretically to behave in the same way as the US.”

Since the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, 10 nuclear tests have taken place. India conducted two in 1998, Pakistan also two in 1998, and North Korea conducted tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, twice in 2016, and 2017, according to the UN.


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