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17 Oct, 2023 12:56

Russia makes nuclear-test promise

Moscow will not conduct a trial even when legal obligations are removed, unless the US does so first, a senior diplomat has said
Russia makes nuclear-test promise

Russia is moving closer to withdrawing its commitment not to conduct nuclear tests, but has no intention of doing this unless the US forces its hand, a senior diplomat has said.

Russia ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 2000 and has now waited 23 years for the US to do the same, the deputy head of the non-proliferation department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Konstantin Vorontsov, told a UN committee meeting on Monday.

“Not having ratified the CTBT, Washington enjoys all of its benefits and even deems it suitable to lecture signatories of the treaty on how they should observe it,” the official said. “Enough is enough.”

The Russian State Duma, the lower chamber of Parliament, is in the process of approving a bill that would withdraw Russian ratification of the CTBT. The draft passed its first reading on Tuesday.

“Washington needs to comprehend that its hegemony brings nothing good,” Chairman of the Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said on the process. “We need dialogue based on mutual respect, an absence of double standards, and non-interference in the sovereign affairs of states.”

The CTBT has not yet come into force, since its terms require ratification by a set of nations, including the US.

During his address, Konstantin Vorontsov reiterated that even once Russia is no longer bound by its commitment, it has no intention of resuming nuclear tests. President Vladimir Putin had pledged that Russia would not be the first party to break the respite in testing, he reminded his audience, so “the responsibility on the future developments in this area lies fully on the US.”

Washington last conducted a live nuclear test in 1992, while Moscow had done so in 1990, before the USSR collapsed. Putin has warned on several occasions that the US may resume trials as part of its nuclear modernization program.

Vorontsov stressed that rising international tensions, particularly relating to the Ukraine crisis, stood in the way of nuclear disarmament.

“The West has switched into a course that is openly hostile towards Russia and is raising the stakes, balancing dangerously close to an open confrontation between nuclear nations,” he said. “Our sobering warnings about the emergent strategic risks are either ignored or misinterpreted for the sake of propaganda goals.”

The US and its allies have accused Russia of resorting to “nuclear blackmail” during the Ukraine conflict, a notion that Moscow has denied.

If Moscow dismantled its nuclear arsenal now, this would invite NATO to invade the country, Vorontsov claimed, citing the overwhelming advantage in conventional forces that the US-led bloc has over Russia.