Russian Parliament Makes Moves Against Global Nuclear Test Ban

Foreign Affairs

Moscow: The lower house of the Russian parliament October 17 gave preliminary approval to a bill revoking the ratification of a global nuclear test ban in what Moscow has described as a move to put itself on par with the United States.

The State Duma voted unanimously to rescind the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty known as the CTBT, in the first of three required readings. The final vote is scheduled for later this week.

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

Speaking during the session, Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said the Russian move was a response to what he described as the United States’ “boorish attitude to performing its obligations to ensure global security.”

“They thought about themselves as hegemons, proponents of a unilateral world,” Volodin said. “Today’s decision will ring the bell for them.”

The CTBT, adopted in 1996, bans all nuclear explosions anywhere in the world, although it has never fully entered into force. 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 resumption.

Putin has noted that while some experts have talked about the need to conduct nuclear tests, he hasn’t yet formed an opinion on the issue.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said last week that Moscow will continue to respect the ban and will only resume nuclear tests if Washington does it first.