Russia Rethinks Its Commitment to the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Russia has announced its intention to withdraw its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

by Faruk Imamovic
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Russia Rethinks Its Commitment to the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
© Getty Images/Oleg Nikishin

Russia has announced its intention to withdraw its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, cited the United States' "irresponsible attitude towards global security" as the primary reason behind the decision.

A Rift in Nuclear Diplomacy

"In the interests of ensuring the security of our country, we are withdrawing the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," declared Volodin, ahead of a pivotal parliamentary debate and subsequent vote on revoking the ratification.

While Russia had ratified the CTBT in 2000, a full four years after its inception in 1996, the US has yet to do the same. Volodin specifically highlighted this delay, blaming Washington's "irresponsible attitude towards global security issues" for their reluctance.

However, there's a silver lining. Despite this recent decision, Russia will continue its association as a signatory and maintain its cooperation with both the Test Ban Treaty Organization and the Global Monitoring System. This essential international body plays a pivotal role in alerting the global community to any nuclear test activities.

Is Russia Moving Towards Nuclear Testing?

The primary question on many experts' minds is what Russia's future stance on nuclear testing will be. While Russian officials have reassured the global community that this move does not signal an imminent nuclear test, concerns remain.

Some argue that Russia's decision is merely an alignment with the current US position on the CTBT. President Vladimir Putin's recent comments added fuel to the speculation. He maintained a diplomatic stance, stating he wasn't prepared to comment on whether Russia should resume nuclear testing.

Notably, this came after certain Russian security experts and lawmakers suggested that a nuclear test could serve as a potent warning to the West. Historically, post-Soviet Russia has refrained from conducting nuclear tests, with the Soviet Union's last test dating back to 1990.

Comparatively, the US last conducted a nuclear test in 1992. It's crucial to understand the context behind the CTBT. Between 1945 and the treaty's establishment in 1996, a staggering 2,000+ nuclear tests were carried out. The United Nations reports that of these, the US conducted 1,032, while the Soviet Union was responsible for 715.

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