Russian senators vote to revoke Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty ratification
The Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian parliament, has unanimously voted to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The bill to rescind ratification, which was passed by the State Duma a week ago, will now be sent to President Vladimir Putin for approval. If he signs the document Russia will revoke its ratification, but will remain a party to the treaty “with all ensuing rights and obligations."
Earlier in October, Putin told Russian foreign policy experts at the annual meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club that Parliament could revoke ratification to establish parity with the United States, which has signed the CTBT but never ratified it.
The CTBT, adopted in 1996, aims to ban all nuclear explosions worldwide. Alongside the US, several over major nations are yet to ratify it, including China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran and Egypt.
This development has triggered concerns in the international community about the possibility of Russia resuming nuclear tests, potentially as a means to discourage Western support for Ukraine. However, earlier in October, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov claimed that Russia is committed to respecting the CTBT, reiterating that Russia would only consider resuming nuclear tests if the United States took similar action.
“We will continue to act within its framework, as the United States has done for 23 years. I don't want to go into speculation about what might happen later, further on, but for the time being it’s simply that political and legal parity with the US will be restored,” he said.
The decision to reverse the ratification of the CTBT is the latest move in a long series of decisions taken by both Moscow and Washington to dismantle the security architecture that has kept Europe safe over the last few decades. In 2002, US President George W Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, initially signed by Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev, citing the risks of nuclear blackmail. Sixteen years later, US President Donald Trump withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and then the Open Skies Treaty in 2020. Trump also refused to extend New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty, but this was eventually renewed by President Joe Biden in 2021, shortly after taking office. The Kremlin also called for talks on reinstating the INF treaty, which never materialised. In 2023, Russia announced the suspension of its participation in the New START, a nuclear arms reduction treaty, claiming that the US was violating its provisions. New START was the last remaining Cold War-era arms control agreement still in force.
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