Russia Votes to Abandon Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Heightening Global Concerns

On Wednesday, Russian lawmakers made the decision to revoke Moscow’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This latest vote brings the country closer to completely abandoning the significant agreement.

The 1996 treaty prohibits all nuclear explosions, including live tests of nuclear weapons. However, it has not been implemented due to the lack of ratification by certain influential countries, such as the United States and China.

During a swift proceeding in the State Duma on Wednesday, legislators unanimously decided to rescind Russia’s ratification of the treaty. This decision was made through a combined second and third reading of the bill.

After the initiative passes through the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, it will proceed to the next stage of the legislative process. The next step involves a vote by Russia’s upper house, known as the Federation Council. Once approved by the Federation Council, the initiative will then be sent to President Vladimir Putin for his final approval and signature, thereby becoming a law.

Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a statement regarding the possibility of conducting live nuclear tests in Russia. Putin expressed his hesitation to provide a definitive answer, stating that he was “not ready to say” whether such tests were necessary for the country.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, Moscow has stated that it would only consider resuming nuclear tests if the United States were to initiate such actions beforehand.

The agreement, while not having been implemented, has received ratification from 178 countries, including France and Britain, both of which possess nuclear capabilities. Despite its lack of enforceability, the agreement holds significant symbolic significance.

According to its supporters, the agreement has been successful in establishing a global standard that discourages the conducting of live tests for nuclear weapons. However, those who oppose the deal argue that its full potential cannot be realized until certain crucial ratifications are obtained.

The agreement was ratified by Russia’s parliament in June 2000, which occurred six months after Putin assumed the presidency.

Prior to the vote, Vyacheslav Volodin, the Speaker of the Duma, expressed his criticism towards the United States for what he perceived as “cynicism” and “double standards” in their approach to nuclear weapons.

During the legislative session on Tuesday, a member of the chamber expressed their perspective on the upcoming vote, stating that it would serve as a reaction to the United States’ perceived neglect of their obligations in upholding worldwide security. This statement was made as lawmakers gave their initial approval to the bill.

Since February 2022, when Putin initiated a large-scale offensive in Ukraine, he has consistently referred to Russia’s nuclear doctrine. This has led to accusations from Western countries that his statements regarding nuclear weapons are irresponsible.

In the past year, Russia made the decision to suspend its involvement in New START, which is currently the only existing bilateral treaty on nuclear weapons between the United States and Russia.

In September of the previous year, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a statement emphasizing his serious intent to employ destructive weaponry if Russia were to encounter a threat to its very existence.

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