Putin Escalates Tensions with Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Withdrawal

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Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, signed a bill Thursday to de-ratify an international nuclear arms treaty.

The law removes Russia from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. It was signed in 1996, and ratified by the United States in 2000.

Officials in Russia have described the country’s decision to withdraw from the treaty, as an attempt at equality with Western countries.

The U.S. and Russia signed the treaty but did not ratify or implement its provisions.

China, Israel, Iran, and North Korea are among the countries that have not finalized their commitments to the treaty.

The withdrawal of Russia from the CTBT was not unexpected. Putin has been signaling his intention to withdraw from the CTBT since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine.

The lower and upper chambers of the Russian parliament approved the de ratification of the Treaty in October.

Putin was in charge of a military drill last month that simulated a nuclear strike as a response to an attack. The exercise included multiple launches of cruise and ballistic missiles.

Putin was shown on Russian state TV directing the exercise by video call with top military officers.

Sergei Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Ministry, said last month that Moscow would continue to respect this ban and only resume nuclear testing if Washington did so first.

The Kremlin has noted that U.S. nuclear testing at the end of October used radioisotopes and chemicals to “validate” new models of predictive explosions that can detect atomic explosions in other nations.