Russian Lawmakers Approve 'De-Ratifying' Nuclear Test Ban Pact In First Reading

The Russian parliament’s lower chamber, the State Duma, approved the first reading of a bill revoking the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The move was initiated by Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this month, prompting concerns in the West that were compounded on October 17 by statements from speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, a member of President Vladimir Putin's Security Council, that Moscow might even abandon the pact altogether.

Parliament is expected to hold a final vote on the issue on October 19 after the move is discussed on October 17-18.

On October 16, Vladimir Yermakov, director of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Nonproliferation and Arms Control Department, said Moscow will not be the first to conduct nuclear tests, if the State Duma makes a decision to revoke the treaty.

Yermakov's statement affirmed Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov's last week statement saying Moscow would resume nuclear tests "only after the United States carries out similar testing."

But Volodin told parliament that "what we will do next, whether we remain a party to the treaty or not, we will not tell them," adding the move was a wake-up call for Washington.

The CTBT has been signed by 187 countries and ratified by 178 but cannot go into force until eight holdouts -- China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, North Korea, India, Pakistan, and the United States -- have signed and ratified it.

Though the United States has not ratified the treaty, it has observed a moratorium on nuclear weapons test explosions since 1992 and says it has no plans to abandon the treaty.

Since the beginning of Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine, various pro-Kremlin politicians and public figures, including government officials, have spoken about the possibility of Russia using nuclear weapons or at least resuming nuclear testing.

Speaking on October 5 at a forum with foreign affairs experts, Putin said it would be up to the State Duma whether Russia revokes the ratification.

In the wake of the statements, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged “all nuclear weapon states to publicly reaffirm their moratoriums against nuclear testing and their commitment to the CTBT.”

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Key Words: Russia, Nuclear, Nuclear Testing, Arctic

Tsar Bomba Nuclear Test in USSR