Russia opens the door to nuclear weapons testing as lawmakers junk treaty

Moscow, Russia - Russia officially launched the process of withdrawing from another international security treaty on Tuesday, paving the way for nuclear weapons testing for the first time in decades.

Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, voted to withdraw ratification of the global Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.
Russia's lower house of parliament, the State Duma, voted to withdraw ratification of the global Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  © via REUTERS

In the first of three readings, the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, passed a bill on Tuesday withdrawing Russia's ratification of the global Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The second reading is scheduled for Wednesday, with the final reading on Thursday. Russian President Vladimir Putin is then expected to quickly formalize the withdrawal from the treaty by signature.

This means that Russia will soon be able to test nuclear weapons again for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The last nuclear weapons test was 33 years ago, on October 24, 1990.

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Putin justified the CTBT withdrawal by saying that Russia must have the same possibilities as the US. Washington can test nuclear weapons at any time because it has never ratified the CTBT.

Parliamentary leader Vyacheslav Volodin said on Tuesday that Moscow had waited more than 20 years for Washington to ratify the treaty. Now Russia is acting to establish strategic balance and to do everything to protect its citizens, he said.

Moscow has recently withdrawn from several disarmament treaties, while Putin has ordered that the test sites be prepared for possible testing of nuclear weapons.

Cover photo: via REUTERS

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