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Putin signs bill revoking Russia's ratification from global nuclear ban treaty

Moscow said that the move to withdraw ratification from the CTBT seeks to restore parity in nuclear arms control commitments. There are widespread concerns that Russia may resume nuclear tests to deter the US from offering support to Ukraine.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Moscow Published on: November 02, 2023 17:18 IST
Russian President Vladimir Putin
Image Source : AP Russian President Vladimir Putin

In a controversial move that threatens to fuel further tensions between Russia and the US, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a bill that revoked Russia's ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

According to TASS news agency, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that the withdrawal of ratification of the treaty equalises the situation between Russia and the United States, which has signed the treaty but has not ratified it.

Russia signed the treaty on September 24, 1996, in New York and ratified it by May 2000. Although the CTBT meant to stop any form of nuclear testing, it has not come into force as eight out of the 44 countries, including India and Pakistan, who possess nuclear weapons have not ratified the treaty.

Russia maintains that the move seeks to restore parity in nuclear arms control commitments. Both houses of the Russian parliament voted last month to revoke Moscow's ratification of the bill.

Concerns over Russia's withdrawal

There are widespread concerns that Russia may resume nuclear tests to try to discourage the West from continuing to offer military support to Ukraine. Many Russian hawks have spoken in favour of a resumption of the tests.

Putin has noted that some experts argue for the necessity of conducting nuclear tests but said he had not formed an opinion on the issue. However, he claimed in early October that his country had tested a nuclear-powered cruise missile.

“We conducted the last successful test of the Burevestnik nuclear-powered global-range cruise missile,” Putin said at the time without elaborating. It was a Burevestnik missile (Storm Petrel) which has been tested by the Russian armed forces and was first mentioned by Putin in 2018.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said last month that Moscow would continue to respect the ban and will only resume nuclear tests if Washington does first. This stance was reiterated recently by Peskov.

Shortly after Putin announced his intention, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) chief Jens Stoltenberg announced that the intergovernmental military alliance would hold a major nuclear exercise.

Stoltenberg said the move “demonstrates Russia's lack of respect, and the continued disregard for its international commitments. “This is reckless and endangers the global norms against nuclear explosive testing," he added. 

He also accused President Vladimir Putin of trying “to use this nuclear rhetoric to prevent NATO allies from supporting Ukraine, but he will not succeed, because again it is in our security interest that Ukraine prevails.

(with agency inputs)

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