Russian President Vladimir Putin signed – today, Thursday – a law canceling Russia’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine and the crisis with the West.
The treaty, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996, aims to prevent all nuclear testing, but it was not implemented because a number of major nuclear countries did not join it, most notably the United States and China.
For its part, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization called on Russia to continue its commitment to the treaty, including operating monitoring stations on its territory to detect the slightest explosion in real time.
The head of the organization, Robert Floyd, said – in a tweet on the X platform – that “the Russian Federation’s decision today to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is very disappointing and regrettable.”
France, one of the first countries to sign the agreement, announced that it “denounces” Russia’s decision to cancel the ratification of the treaty, and said that the decision undermines efforts to make the treaty universal.
The Russian House of Representatives (the Duma) adopted the law in mid-October before the Federation Council (the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament) approved it unanimously at the end of the month.
In mid-October, Russia conducted ballistic missile launch tests with the aim of preparing its forces for a “massive nuclear strike” in response to a similar hostile strike.
The Russian nuclear doctrine stipulates the “purely defensive” use of atomic weapons in the event of an attack on Russia with weapons of mass destruction or in the event of an aggression with conventional weapons that “threatens the very existence of the state.”
Also, last February, Russia suspended its participation in the “New START” nuclear disarmament treaty signed between Russia and the United States in 2010, which is the last bilateral agreement linking Moscow and Washington.
Commenting on the issue, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken criticized Russia for withdrawing from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and called on Moscow to commit to not conducting tests.
“Unfortunately, this represents a major step in the wrong direction and takes us further away from the treaty’s entry into force, rather than closer to it,” Blinken said in a statement.
He added, “This is a continuation of Moscow’s disturbing and misleading efforts to increase nuclear risks and heighten tensions as it continues its illegal war on Ukraine. Russian officials say that Russia’s planned move to withdraw its certification does not mean it will resume testing, and we urge Moscow to adhere to these statements.” .
It is noteworthy that the United States has never ratified the treaty, which represented a major obstacle to its entry into force. In 1992, President George H. W. Bush signed a law unilaterally banning US nuclear testing, which has since been extended. But the Senate refused to ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1999.