Issue Brief on “Russian De-Ratification of CTBT: Resumption of Nuclear Testing on the Horizon?”

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The threat of a new nuclear arms race and the resumption of nuclear testing by major powers have been looming over the horizon. Along with the Ukraine crisis and the Gaza conflict, the constant advancements of nuclear weapons, and the suspension and de-ratification of significant international arms control treaties reflect the rising great power rivalry and deteriorating international security environment. The latest blow could come from the de-ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would further hasten the demise of the arms control regime and nuclear testing framework. On October 6, 2023, Russia declared its intention to withdraw from the treaty in an attempt to mirror the United States, which is a signatory to the CTBT but has not ratified it. Thus, in November 2023, the Russian ratification of the CTBT was finally revoked. It is important to examine the implications of the Russian de-ratification of CTBT and the response of the United States. It is important to assess how it will impact U.S.–Russia relations and what it means for the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

The CTBT has formed a global standard against nuclear weapon testing and its ratification would be a significant milestone toward a nuclear-weapon-free world. Despite having 187 state signatories[1] and 177 ratifications, it is not likely to enter into force until 44 countries from the Annex 2 list ratify the treaty.[2] Russia ratified the CTBT on June 30, 2000. In September 2005, Russia iterated its intention to continue observing the moratorium on nuclear testing till the time of CTBT’s entry into force, provided that other nuclear powers also comply with the treaty.[3]

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