Russia’s Federation Council, the upper house of its parliament, has voted unanimously to revoke Moscow’s ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Under the treaty, which currently has 186 signatories and 78 ratifications, the world’s nuclear-armed nations would agree to halt nuclear testing anywhere in the world.
The U.S. was the first to sign the CTBT in 1996, but the senate rejected its ratification in 1999. The treaty will not enter into force until eight key states ratify it. It has yet to be ratified by the U.S., China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Iran, and Egypt.
No country, aside from North Korea in 2017, has conducted a nuclear test since the 1990s. The treaty is not legally binding until 44 named countries sign and ratify it.
“The refusal on the part of the United States, China, Egypt, Israel, Iran, India, North Korea and Pakistan to comply with international procedures that are necessary for the treaty to come into force shows their unwillingness to commit themselves to the entire slew of obligations under the treaty as it forces the Russian Federation to take response measures aimed at restoring the balance as regards obligations under the treaty,” the Russian senators said, according to state media TASS News Agency.
The bill to end ratification of the CTBT was approved in the lower house last week. It will now be sent to President Vladimir Putin for final approval.
Achieving the goal of preventing nuclear proliferation is not currently possible given what the senators called “the destructive position” of the U.S., TASS reported. The senators added that formal withdrawal of ratification is a reciprocal response that will put Moscow on an equal footing with the U.S. regarding each nation’s obligations in this field.
Hours after Russia’s upper parliamentary chamber voted to withdraw from the treaty, Russia’s military simulated a nuclear strike in a drill that was overseen by Putin.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the purpose of the drill is to rehearse “dealing a massive nuclear strike with strategic offensive forces in response to a nuclear strike by the enemy.”