This week, Russia cancels the nuclear test ban treaty, opening doors for atomic tests

The idea to do so came from Vladimir Putin himself

by Sededin Dedovic
This week, Russia cancels the nuclear test ban treaty, opening doors for atomic tests
© Handout / Getty Images

This week marks a pivotal moment in the Russian Federation's political landscape as lawmakers in the nation's parliament gather to deliberate on the possibility of overturning the ratification of the global nuclear test ban treaty.

If this decision is finalized, it would pave the way for Russia to potentially carry out atomic tests, a move that has raised concerns both domestically and internationally. The decision is currently in the hands of the two parliamentary houses of the Russian Federation, namely the Duma and the Federation Council, both of which are likely to vote in favor of terminating the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

In fact, the Duma has already initiated this process, having passed the first reading of the proposal on Tuesday, October 17. The proposal to withdraw from the CTBT is not a mere political whim but rather a strategic decision championed by the country's influential leader, President Vladimir Putin.

This initiative was then embraced by Duma President Vyacheslav Volodin, highlighting the top-level support for this potentially controversial move. It is essential to recognize that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is among the last remaining international disarmament agreements that Russia currently adheres to.

One of Russia's justifications for this move is its assertion that the United States never ratified the treaty. Therefore, in the eyes of the Russian government, withdrawing from the ratification serves to balance the scales.

Currently, Moscow and Washington collectively possess approximately ninety percent of the world's atomic bombs. The CTBT, initially signed in 1996 by the USA, Russia, and China, intended to curb the proliferation of nuclear testing.

Unlike the United States and China, the Russian government ratified this treaty within its parliament in 2000.

This decision will undoubtedly have reverberations both within Russia and beyond

However, some experts, including Pavel Podvig of the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, point out that the treaty never officially came into force due to the absence of U.S.

ratification. Nevertheless, the five recognized nuclear powers—the USA, Russia, China, France, and Great Britain—have maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear tests since 1990. Furthermore, India and Pakistan, despite conducting nuclear tests in 1998, have not repeated these tests since then.

North Korea remains the only dissident in this regard, having conducted six atomic tests. Pavel Podvig underscores the high standing that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty enjoys on the global stage. The notion that conducting nuclear tests can foster alliances or act as a deterrent, as some voices in Russia suggest, is largely debunked by the international community.

Podvig adds, "All these ideas that are currently being discussed in Russia, in principle - let's scare everyone! – they shouldn't really scare anyone. But the conviction will be unequivocal." Moreover, Podvig contends that terminating this treaty would not only send a clear political signal but also, from a legal perspective, offer one less reason for Russia to adhere to its self-proclaimed moratorium on nuclear testing.

This decision will undoubtedly have reverberations both within Russia and beyond, shaping global discourse on disarmament and nuclear security.

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