Russia is considering withdrawing its commitment not to conduct nuclear tests, but will only do so if the US takes the first step, according to a senior diplomat. The deputy head of the non-proliferation department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Konstantin Vorontsov, stated at a UN committee meeting that Russia ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 2000, and has been patiently waiting for the US to follow suit for the past 23 years. Vorontsov accused the US of enjoying the benefits of the treaty without ratifying it and criticized its tendency to lecture signatories on their observance of the agreement. He urged the US to take action, stating, “Enough is enough.”
In response to the lack of progress from the US, 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. Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin emphasized the need for dialogue based on mutual respect, an absence of double standards, and non-interference in the sovereign affairs of states. He called for the US to understand that its hegemony brings no benefits.
The CTBT has not yet come into force due to the requirement of ratification by a set of nations, including the US. However, Vorontsov made it clear that even after Russia is released from its commitment, it has no intention of resuming nuclear tests. He reminded the audience that President Vladimir Putin had pledged that Russia would not be the first party to break the respite in testing, placing the responsibility on the US for the future developments in this area.
While Washington last conducted a live nuclear test in 1992, Moscow’s last test took place in 1990. Putin has previously warned that the US may resume tests as part of its nuclear modernization program. Vorontsov highlighted that rising tensions in international relations, particularly in relation to the Ukraine crisis, hinder nuclear disarmament efforts. He criticized the West for adopting a hostile stance towards Russia and pushing dangerously close to an open confrontation between nuclear nations. Vorontsov argued that the West ignores or misinterprets Russia’s warnings about the emerging strategic risks for propaganda purposes.
The US and its allies have accused Russia of engaging in nuclear blackmail during the Ukraine conflict, an accusation that Moscow firmly denies. Vorontsov claimed that if Russia were to dismantle its nuclear arsenal now, it would invite NATO to invade the country due to the overwhelming conventional forces advantage held by the US-led bloc.
In conclusion, Russia is preparing to withdraw its commitment to the CTBT, but it is contingent upon the US taking the first step. The lack of US ratification despite enjoying the benefits of the treaty has prompted Russia to consider this move. However, Russia maintains its stance of not resuming nuclear tests and places the responsibility for future developments in this area on the US. The geopolitical tensions and hostile actions by the West towards Russia are seen as obstacles to nuclear disarmament. As the Russian State Duma progresses with the bill to withdraw ratification, the need for dialogue based on mutual respect and non-interference is emphasized.