25 October 2023

Russian parliament’s upper house revokes ratification of global nuclear test ban

25 October 2023

The upper house of the Russian parliament has revoked the ratification of a global nuclear test ban in what Moscow has described as a move to establish parity with the United States.

The Federation Council voted on Wednesday to endorse a Bill rescinding the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, also known as the CTBT.

The Bill will now be sent to President Vladimir Putin for final approval.

The lower house, the State Duma, approved the Bill last week.

The vote follows a statement from Mr Putin, who warned earlier this month that Moscow could revoke its 2000 decision to ratify the Bill to “mirror” the stand taken by the US, which has signed but not ratified the nuclear test ban.

The CTBT, adopted in 1996, bans all nuclear explosions anywhere in the world but the treaty was never fully implemented.

In addition to the US, it is yet to be ratified by China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran and Egypt.

There are widespread concerns that Russia could move to 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.

Mr Putin has noted that, while some experts have argued that it is necessary to carry out nuclear tests, he has not yet formed an opinion on the issue.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said earlier this month that Moscow will continue to respect the ban and will only resume nuclear tests if Washington does it first.

Mr Ryabkov said on Wednesday that the Russian Foreign Ministry has received US proposals to resume a dialogue on strategic stability and arms control issues, but noted that Moscow does not consider it possible in the current political environment.

“We aren’t ready for it because the return to a dialogue on strategic stability … as it was conducted in the past is impossible until the US revises its deeply hostile policy course in relation to Russia,” he told reporters in comments carried by Russian news agencies.

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