Russian Duma rattles the nuclear test sabre
No need for a second or third reading, Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said after the bill on withdrawal of ratification of the CTBT was adopted in the first reading. Formal considerations in a second and third reading could, however, be conducted on October 18 and 19.
The vote is not directly greenlighting resumption of nuclear testing at Novaya Zemlya, Russia’s only existing test site for nukes.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov last week made clear that Russia will only resume nuclear weapons tests if the United States does it first.
Washington has signed, but not ratified, the 1996 international binding nuclear test ban treaty. All states that ratified the treaty agree not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion at any place.
Russia itself has not conducted any nuclear weapons tests as the last real explosions were conducted on October 24, 1990, a year before the breakup of the Soviet Union.
However, so-called sub-critical experiments, with plutonium or uranium in small amounts are taking place in a permafrost tunnel system near the Matochkin Strait at Novaya Zemlya. In such tests, the amount of fissile material is less than needed for a nuclear explosion to occur.
As reported by the Barents Observer in early October, no signs are seen at the test site that could indicate any imminent nuclear tests in any of the other tunnels at the test site area.