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Russia Accuses US of Nuclear Testing Site Activity

Tuesday, 10 October 2023 09:12 AM EDT

Russia accused the United States on Tuesday of carrying out preparatory work at a nuclear testing site in Nevada but said that Moscow would not restart its own nuclear testing program unless Washington did.

The comments, by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, come as Russia's lower house of parliament urgently studies how to revoke Moscow's ratification of a landmark treaty banning nuclear tests and as tensions with the West are at their highest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

A nuclear test by the United States or Russia could encourage others such as China to follow suit, starting a new nuclear arms race between the big powers, which stopped nuclear testing in the years after the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991.

"The indications are that there is or was, at least until recently, [preparatory] work underway at the Nevada Testing Site," the TASS state news agency cited Ryabkov as saying.

The United States last tested in 1992 and the Soviet Union in 1990. The facility Ryabkov referred to is located in a vast tract of desert where hundreds of nuclear explosions have been detonated since 1951.

"If they go down this [testing] path, then the position that was stated by the president of the Russian Federation will be triggered — that we will be forced to mirror this as well. This is when a completely different situation arises, but the responsibility for whether it will or won't arise lies with Washington."

Russia is currently locked in what it casts as an existential struggle with the West over Ukraine. Ryabkov's comments also came days after President Vladimir Putin held out the possibility of resuming nuclear testing.

Putin said last Thursday that Russia's nuclear doctrine — which sets out conditions under which he would press the nuclear button — did not need updating, but added he was not yet ready to say whether or not Moscow needed to resume nuclear tests.

However, Putin said Russia could consider de-ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to bring itself into line with the United States, which has signed but not ratified that treaty.

Putin's comments were widely seen by Western security experts as showing that Russia, which has the world's largest nuclear arsenal, was ready to resume nuclear testing if necessary, a move that would be designed to signal intent and evoke fear in any standoff with the West.

Russian lawmakers were given 10 days on Monday to study how best to revoke Moscow's ratification of the CTBT.

Ryabkov was cited by Russian news agencies as saying that Russia felt it had no choice but to align itself with Washington's nuclear testing stance.

The Russian foreign ministry was preparing draft legislation to de-ratify the treaty and Moscow would still interact with the organization that oversees the test ban after de-ratification, Ryabkov was cited as saying.

"We will transmit our data, receive other people's data. The moratorium remains in place. We're just withdrawing ratification. That's it. Everything else will function as it has functioned until today," said Ryabkov.

Robert Floyd, head of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty Organization, said a day earlier that Russia's actions concerned him and that he had been in touch with senior Russian officials to make the case for continued ratification, something he said was in the interests of humanity as a whole. 

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


Newsfront
Russia accused the United States on Tuesday of carrying out preparatory work at a nuclear testing site in Nevada but said that Moscow would not restart its own nuclear testing program unless Washington did.
russia, united states, nuclear, testing, site
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2023-12-10
Tuesday, 10 October 2023 09:12 AM
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