Sun. Apr 21st, 2024
Russian President: Vladimir PutinImage Credits: Gavriil Grigorov/ Sputnik/ Reuters

Russian envoy to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said that Moscow will revoke its ratification of the pact. A move that is denounced by the United States as jeopardizing the “global norm” against nuclear test blasts.

The announcement made by Mikhail Ulyanov, the Russian representative to the international nuclear agencies in Vienna, followed a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that Moscow could reassess its ratification of the treaty.

The announcement added new fuel to the existing tensions – arms control disputes between the world’s two major nuclear weapons states amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In addition, he said on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter that the move aims at “equal footing with the #US who signed the Treaty, but didn’t ratify it” yet. However, the revocation doesn’t intend to resume nuclear tests, he added.

What is Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?

The CTBT is a multilateral treaty that bans all nuclear explosions, whether for military or peaceful purposes. It was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996, has been signed by 187 countries and ratified by 178 countries.

In accordance with Article XIV of the Treaty, it will come into force only when all 44 specific nuclear technology holder states sign and ratify the treaty. Out of 44, 8 states (mentioned in Annex 2) namely: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States, have yet to ratify the agreement.

Four years after the conclusion of World War II, marked by the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Soviet Union conducted its inaugural nuclear weapon test. This event ignited a prolonged arms race between the world’s two superpowers.

During the Cold War era, numerous nuclear tests were carried out, and the radioactive fallout from these tests drew global condemnation, sparking concerns about the environment and public health.

Tensions between these superpowers escalated dramatically in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was a direct and perilous showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union. It represented the moment when these two superpowers came perilously close to a nuclear conflict.

It’s worth noting that the more a country conducts nuclear tests, the more the arms race intensifies.

At this juncture, in 1963 an attempt to curb the explosive tests was made in the name of the Limited Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (LTBT). It bans nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space and underwater, however, it does not say about banning tests underground.

In addition, the treaty does prohibit explosions in the environment if the explosion creates debris outside the territory of the responsible state.

The challenge with the treaty revolved around the verification of compliance and the establishment of inspection mechanisms. To address the shortcomings of the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), another treaty, known as the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, was enacted in July 1974 and took effect in 1990.

This treaty, a bilateral agreement between two nations, sets a nuclear “threshold” by prohibiting nuclear tests that exceed 150 kilotons. Additionally, it forbids testing of nuclear weapons, whether new or existing, that surpass the fractional-megaton range.

Before the implementation of this treaty, there were no restrictions on the size of nuclear explosive tests. For example, the United States conducted its most powerful nuclear weapon test, Castle Bravo, with a yield of 15 megatons in 1954. Seven years later, in 1961, the Soviet Union tested Tsar Bomba, the largest-ever detonated nuclear weapon, with a yield of 50 megatons.

Additionally, it can be said that it established a foundation for the negotiation of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It was also the first time that the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to share nuclear testing program data with each other.

The United States conducted its last nuclear test in 1992, while China and France conducted theirs in 1996, and the former Soviet Union in 1990. Russia, which inherited the majority of its nuclear arsenal from the former Soviet Union, has abstained from conducting any nuclear tests.

Current scenario

Antonio Guterres, the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) urged “all nuclear weapons states to publicly reaffirm their moratoriums against nuclear testing and their commitment to the CTBT,” the UN deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq said on Friday.

The executive director of CTBTO, Robert Floyd stated that it would “be concerning and deeply unfortunate if any State signatory were to reconsider its ratification of the CTBT.”


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