Russian diplomat: US may be planning to pull out of nuclear test ban treaty

Russian diplomat: US may be planning to pull out of nuclear test ban treaty
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A Russian diplomat said Tuesday that the United States may be planning to withdraw from the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Reuters reported.

“It would appear that through propaganda around false claims about Russia’s compliance there are attempts to prepare international opinion for a U.S. exit from the CTBT and then to blame Russia again for everything,” the Russian diplomat reportedly said.

The United Nations treaty negotiated in the 1990s bans nuclear explosions outright. Even low-yield tests are prohibited.

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Not enough countries have ratified the treaty for it to enter into force, but many nations, including the U.S. and Russia, agreed to adhere to the ban on tests without ratification.

The Russian diplomat's comments come after U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley said in May that the Kremlin is "probably" violating the treaty.

“The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the ‘zero-yield’ standard,” the top level defense intelligence officer said in remarks at the Hudson Institute.

“Our understanding of nuclear weapon development leads us to believe Russia’s testing activities would help it to improve its nuclear weapons capabilities,” he added.

The accusations back and forth between Washington and Moscow on CTBT come at crucial time for U.S.-Russia arms control.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpHealth insurers Cigna, Humana waive out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatment Puerto Rico needs more federal help to combat COVID-19 Fauci says April 30 extension is 'a wise and prudent decision' MORE announced in October that the U.S. would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, saying Russia had violated the treaty by building a new missile system.

Russia responded in February by declaring that it would also pull out of the agreement.

The Cold War era-treaty bans nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 300 and 3,400 miles. The original ban between Moscow and Washington resulted in 2,692 missiles being destroyed.

Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Airbnb - Senate overcomes hurdles, passes massive coronavirus bill Putin wears hazmat suit during hospital visit; Moscow mayor warns of undercounted cases Hillicon Valley: Facebook reports huge spike in usage during pandemic | Democrats push for mail-in voting funds in coronavirus stimulus | Trump delays deadline to acquire REAL ID MORE said earlier this month that he’s ready to restart arms control negotiations with both nations officially out of the agreement.

He also said that a new commitment to negotiations may be needed for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which governs reduction of strategic offensive weapons.

“How we should go forward together to reduce strategic armaments remains unclear. In early 2021 the New START treaty (on intercontinental missiles) expires. However, we are not currently seeing any U.S. willingness to discuss its extension or to draft a completely new agreement,” he told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.