Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law yesterday revoking the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The move comes amidst the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and mounting tensions with the West.
The CTBT, which was signed in 1996, prohibits all nuclear weapons tests. However, it never came into effect as several key countries, including the United States and China, never ratified it.
Putin had earlier stated in October that Russia might revoke its ratification in response to the United States‘ failure to ratify the treaty. This decision adds to the concerns over nuclear weapons proliferation and the escalating arms race between major powers.
Since the conflict in Ukraine began in February 2022, Russian officials have repeatedly made nuclear threats. However, Putin has also shown caution on certain occasions.
In recent developments, Putin oversaw ballistic missile exercises last week, aimed at preparing Russian troops for a potential “massive nuclear attack” in retaliation.
The bill to revoke the CTBT was approved by the Russian Parliament last month. While the treaty never fully came into force, it holds symbolic significance as it was ratified by 178 countries, including nuclear powers such as France and the United Kingdom.
Supporters argue that the CTBT establishes an international norm against nuclear weapons testing. However, critics contend that without ratifications by major nuclear powers, its potential impact remains unrealized.
Russia initially ratified the agreement in June 2000, six months after Putin assumed the presidency.
This decision by Putin to revoke the CTBT ratification further highlights the precarious global nuclear landscape and raises concerns about the potential consequences. Experts warn that this move could exacerbate tensions between Russia and the West, further fueling the arms race and undermining global efforts towards disarmament.