Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Thursday revoking Russia’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, a move that the United States has strongly criticized.
The 1996 treaty aimed to prohibit all nuclear explosions, including live tests of nuclear weapons, although it never entered into force due to the non-ratification by key countries, including the United States and China.
Since launching its offensive on Ukraine in February of the past year, the West has accused Russia of employing reckless nuclear rhetoric.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his criticism of Putin’s announcement on Thursday and called on Moscow to pledge not to conduct nuclear testing.
“Unfortunately, it represents a significant step in the wrong direction, taking us further from, not closer to, entry into force of the treaty,” Blinken said in a statement. He added, “This continues Moscow’s disturbing and misguided effort to heighten nuclear risks and raise tensions as it pursues its illegal war against Ukraine.”
Last week, Putin oversaw ballistic missile drills that Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu described as practice for a “massive” retaliatory nuclear strike against an unnamed adversary.
In addition, Putin stated last month that he was “not ready to say” whether Russia would carry out live nuclear tests.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has called upon Russia to maintain its commitment to the treaty, including using monitoring stations capable of detecting even the slightest explosion in real time.
“Today’s decision by the Russian Federation to revoke its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is very disappointing and deeply regrettable,” stated CTBTO head Robert Floyd on social media.