At the direction of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russia is moving to undo its ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that prohibits all nuclear weapons tests. This represents another step in the Kremlin’s effort to try to punish the United States and the West for their support of Ukraine following Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022.
It will achieve little besides demonstrating Putin’s growing pique and frustration at the failure of the Russian military to achieve victory.
The completed CTBT was opened for signature in September 1996. Since then, 187 countries have signed the treaty, including the United States and Russia. In the 25 years since 1998, only the rogue state of North Korea has conducted nuclear tests.
The Russian government ratified the CTBT in 2000. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate failed to give consent to ratification when it considered the treaty in 1999. That was a mistake. The Biden administration favors ratification, but that does not appear possible in the current Senate.
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