Is Putin one step closer to testing nukes?

Putin said he was 'not ready to say' whether Russia would resume nuclear testing.

Is Putin one step closer to testing nukes?
Putin signed the law today, revoking the former Russian ratification
Putin signed the law today, revoking the former Russian ratification (Picture: PA & EPA)

President Vladimir Putin has signed a law withdrawing Russia from a critical nuclear treaty – meaning he could begin testing nuclear weapons again.

Russia made the move today, saying it wants to ‘restore equality’ with the United States – but said it won’t resume nuclear testing unless Washington does.

The 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty treaty outlawed all nuclear explosions – including live tests of nuclear weapons.

The world’s five declared nuclear powers – the US, Britain, China, France and Russia – first signed the treaty in 1996.

But Putin’s withdrawal comes after years of him pumping out a ‘Russia versus the West’ narrative – raising fears of a new arms race.

FILE - This photo taken from video provided by the Russian Defense Ministry Press Service on Feb. 19, 2022, shows a Yars intercontinental ballistic missile being launched from an air field during military drills in Russia. Sometime this summer, if President Vladimir Putin can be believed, Russia moved some of its short-range nuclear weapons into Belarus, closer to Ukraine and onto the doorstep of NATO???s members in Central and Eastern Europe. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File)
It remains unknown if Putin intends to actually begin testing nuclear weapons again (Picture: AP)
epa10949389 Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council, the Government and the leadership of law enforcement agencies at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, 30 October 2023. ???The events in Makhachkala last night were inspired, including through social networks, not least from the territory of Ukraine by the hands of agents of Western intelligence services. In this regard, I want to ask a question: is it possible to help Palestine by trying to attack the Tats (Mountain Jews) and their families? The Tats, by the way, are the titular nation in Dagestan,??? said Putin. The presidential meeting was convened in connection with the riots that occurred on October 29 at Makhachkala International Airport in Dagestan. Crowds of people gathered at the airport to prevent Israeli citizens arriving from Tel Aviv from entering the country. Protesters broke into the international terminal building and then ran onto the runway. EPA/GAVRIIL GRIGOROV / KREMLIN POOL / POOL MANDATORY CREDIT
The announcement has been made as Russia continues to struggle in Ukraine (Picture: EPA)
FILE PHOTO: Russian Federation's Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov signs the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty at the United Nations in New York, September 24. The UN. is holding the 51st session of the General Assembly./File Photo
The Russian Federation’s Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov first signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1996 (Picture: Reuters)

The law signed today has concerned Western arms experts, who believe Russia may conduct a nuclear test to evoke fear as the war in Ukraine continues.

Putin said he was ‘not ready to say’ whether Russia would resume nuclear testing.

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said revoking the treaty was in response to the United States’ ‘cynicism’ and ‘boorish attitudes’ on nuclear weapons.

If Putin did decide to resume Russia’s nuclear testing, it could usher in another ‘Cold War’ era of nuclear arms testing.

Post-Soviet Russia has never conducted a nuclear test – the last Soviet Union test was in 1990, and the last United States test was in 1992.

In October, Putin oversaw a ‘massive’ retaliatory nuclear strike drill, including ‘practical launches of ballistic and cruise missiles’.

In October, Putin claimed Russia successfully tested the feared ‘flying Chernobyl’ nuclear missile, dubbed Burevestnik.

In this pool photograph distributed by Sputnik agency, Russia's President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with former Vologda region governor Oleg Kuvshinnikov and acting Vologda region governor Georgy Filimonov at Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow on October 31, 2023. (Photo by Gavriil GRIGOROV / POOL / AFP) / Editor's note : this image is distributed by Russian state owned agency Sputnik (Photo by GAVRIIL GRIGOROV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Putin has backed out of key international agreements since invading Ukraine – including The Black Sea Grain Initiative (Picture: AFP)
epa10939126 A handout still image taken from handout video provided by the Russian Defence ministry press service shows the launch of the Yars intercontinental ballistic missile during a training of strategic nuclear deterrent forces under the leadership of the President of the Russian Federation, Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin from the state test cosmodrome in Plesetsk, Russia, 25 October 2023. The Russian military conducted training with the forces and means of the ground, sea and air components of the nuclear deterrent forces. ???During the training, practical launches of ballistic and cruise missiles took place. The Yars intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from the Plesetsk state test cosmodrome at the Kura test site in Kamchatka,??? the Kremlin said. According to the message, from the Barents Sea from a nuclear missile submarine the strategic cruiser Tula launched the Sineva ballistic missile. EPA/RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY PRESS SERVICE HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Russia has tested non-nuclear missiles – but hasn’t tested nuclear weapons since 1990 (Picture: EPA)

The Russian leader, who since last year’s invasion of Ukraine has repeatedly reminded the world of his country’s nuclear powers, said no one in their right mind would use nuclear weapons against his nation.

If such an attack occurred, he said, ‘such a number of our missiles – hundreds, hundreds – would appear in the air that not a single enemy would have a chance of survival’.

The Burevestnik is viewed as a game-changing ‘doomsday’ weapon with a range of up to 14,000 miles, meaning it could strike the US mainland from anywhere in Russia.

‌It is seen by the Kremlin as a low-flying ‘stealth’ cruise missile incapable of interception by existing Western air defences and delivering nuclear warheads anywhere around the globe.

From Putin threatening to use ‘all available means’ to hefty missiles being paraded around in front of cameras, the Kremlin has made its stockpile clear.

Russia has launched 219 atmospheric tests and 496 underground test explosions since 1945, the Arms Control Association, which monitors nuclear testing, said in August.

However, experts doubt Putin would ever resort to nuking places such as Ukraine, where wind could blow radiation straight into Russian territory.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.