Russia Reconsiders Nuclear Weapons Test Ban: CTBTO Expresses Concerns

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: October 10, 2023; 14:19 ♦ (Vindobona)

In a recent development, Russia is preparing to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). However, according to Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Russia will only conduct a nuclear test if the United States does likewise. Russia signed the CTBT in 1996 and ratified it in 2000.

The Russians may be preparing to conduct a nuclear test, a move that would escalate tensions with the West and likely prompt other world powers to resume nuclear testing. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons, Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, CC BY 4.0

The Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow is currently preparing a draft law that would require Russia to revoke its ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Drafting of the relevant legislation is in full swing. The Russian parliament has ten days to finalize the details. The announcement, published by Russia's official TASS news agency, underscores the growing tension between the two superpowers.

The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty bans all nuclear weapons testing worldwide, for both military and civilian purposes. Although more than 180 countries have already signed the treaty and over 160 have ratified it, it has not yet entered into force. Signatures from eight countries, including China, the United States, Iran, and North Korea, are missing.

Ryabkov stressed that Russia's decision to abandon ratification should serve as a signal to the United States. He pointed out that countries that have not ratified the treaty have deprived it of the opportunity to enter into force. He expressed disappointment that neither the Trump nor Biden administrations have made any effort to change the situation.

CTBTO Concerned

Dr. Robert Floyd, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, expressed concern about Russia's moves. He stressed that the CTBT is a powerful instrument for the global good and plays a critical role in the international peace and security architecture. Floyd told Russian officials that ratification of the CTBT is in Russia's national interest as well as in the interest of all humanity and hopes to meet with key officials in Moscow soon. He further emphasized that only through the entry into force of the CTBT can a universal ban on nuclear testing be achieved and that he will continue to vigorously pursue this goal.

In conclusion, Floyd pointed out that the ban on nuclear testing is critical to preventing nuclear proliferation and protecting current and future generations from the harmful effects of explosive nuclear tests. He is counting on Russia to continue to contribute to these efforts. The international community is watching these developments with growing concern and hope for a peaceful resolution.

The CTBTO, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, based in Vienna, has already installed a global monitoring system. This system can register nuclear explosions, such as those that occurred during bomb tests in North Korea.