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Russia to withdraw from nuclear test ban treaty

Russia’s upper house of parliament on Wednesday approved the country’s withdrawal from the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), more than a week after the country’s lower house held a similar vote.

The Federation Council of the Russian Federation issued a statement:

 “Amendments to the Federal Law ‘On the Ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty’ were approved. The decision was made in order to restore parity of obligations in the field of nuclear arms control.”

The statement said that First Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Sergey Kislyak presented the question. He said that the CTBT was an important instrument in the field of arms control and nuclear non-proliferation. Kislyak claimed:

 “This is exactly how our country has treated and continues to treat it over the years, seeking the accession of all states to it.”

Kislyak pointed out that the CTBT had not entered into force because eight states, including the United States, had not ratified the treaty. He added:

“Russia remains a state that signed the treaty with all the ensuing rights and obligations. The cancellation of ratification does not weaken the constructive approach to the CTBT, but restores the parity of obligations in relations with the US in the field of nuclear arms control.”

The State Duma voted for the withdraw from the CTBT on 17 October.

The CTBT is an international treaty that bans nuclear weapons tests and any other nuclear explosions. The UN General Assembly adopted the treaty on 10 September 1996. Since then it has been signed by 186 countries and ratified by 177. However, the treaty has not entered into force: The US, India, Egypt, North Korea, China and Pakistan have neither signed nor ratified it.

Post-Soviet Russia has never carried out a nuclear test. The Soviet Union last tested in 1990 and the United States in 1992.

A resumption of nuclear tests by Russia, the United States or China could mark the start of a new nuclear arms race between the big powers who stopped nuclear testing in the years following the 1991 collapse of the USSR.

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