Is Putin one step closer to testing nukes?
Putin said he was 'not ready to say' whether Russia would resume nuclear testing.
President Vladimir Putin has signed a law withdrawing Russia from a critical nuclear treaty – meaning he could begin testing nuclear weapons again.
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.
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.
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.
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