Russia’s parliament, the Duma, took a significant step on Tuesday toward withdrawing its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), citing the United States’ perceived irresponsibility regarding global security.
In an overwhelming vote of 412 to zero, with no abstentions, the Duma approved the withdrawal in the first of a series of readings.
The Russian government justifies this move as an attempt to restore parity with the United States, which signed but never ratified the CTBT in 1996.
Russia asserts that it will not resume nuclear testing unless the United States does so first.
However, arms control experts are expressing concerns that this decision may indicate Russia’s willingness to conduct a test, which could be viewed as a provocative gesture amid heightened tensions over its involvement in Ukraine.
It is noteworthy that, with the exception of North Korea, no nation has conducted nuclear tests involving explosions in this century.
Despite some senior Russian security experts advocating for a nuclear test as a warning to the West, President Vladimir Putin has not made a definitive statement on whether such a test is necessary.
The swift and nearly unanimous approval of the deratification bill was virtually guaranteed when 440 out of 450 Duma members attached their signatures to it as sponsors the previous week.
Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin emphasized the move’s necessity “in the interests of ensuring the security of our country.”
Volodin also pointed out that while Russia ratified the CTBT in 2000, the United States failed to do so, citing its “irresponsible attitude to global security issues.”
It’s important to note that while Russia is withdrawing its ratification, it intends to remain a signatory to the CTBT.
Russia has committed to continuing its cooperation with the global monitoring system, which plays a crucial role in alerting the international community to any potential nuclear tests, thereby maintaining a level of transparency and oversight in the realm of nuclear disarmament.