October 19, 2023
On October 17-18, 2023, the State Duma successfully held three hearings on a bill to withdraw Russia's instruments ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
The issue of the need to revoke such ratification was raised by Russian President Vladimir Putin at a Valdai Discussion Club meeting in early October this year.
On October 18, the Duma passed the relevant law, which called back Article 1 of the law "On Ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty," that contained a provision on ratification of the treaty signed on behalf of the Russian Federation in New York in September 1996.
The new law was adopted unanimously by all deputies present at the session.
On should note the fact of almost complete unanimity inside the MP corps, which was evident at the stage of forging the initial draft of this bill: 438 deputies who were in Moscow at the time co-signed it, out of a total of 450 legislators in the full list. This is a record in the history of the introduction of such documents into the State Duma.
The explanatory note to the bill stated that revoking of its instrument of ratification was necessary to correct an imbalance between Russia and the USA regarding the scope of obligations under the treaty. While Russia ratified it back in 2000, the U.S. side has yet to ensure this process. The reason? The U.S. military and political leadership has long been talking about reactivating the nuclear test site in Nevada for the purpose of testing new strategic nuclear warheads.
State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin said that the decision to de-ratify the CTBT was taken solely in the interests of our country and the entire world, which should be built on the basis of global stability, security and justice.
Subsequently the law will be sent to President Vladimir Putin for signing.
Inadequate response to the measure: double standard
In the United States, the decision to revoke the ratification of the CTBT by the Russian side caused uproar and even undisguised indignation. But where were the American leaders who prevented the ratification of the CTBT by the USA from 1996 until now? What the U.S. State Department has been doing in this direction for many years? Nothing. How can we explain the reluctance of the American Arms Control Association for criticizing Washington in this domain who has been avoiding ratification of the treaty for almost last 27 years?
It must be recognized that the threat of nuclear missile warfare by the leading states of the "transatlantic solidarity" is not reduced by the two other international treaties in force, namely the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons or NPT that has been violated by the United States through its deployment of air-based nuclear weapons deployed in Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and the Federal Republic of Germany since the mid-fifties of the last century. None of the nine nuclear-armed states has yet acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons or TPNW that has already entered into force.
The current arms control process is basically at almost zero level, which has happened at the initiative and as a result of deliberate actions of the USA and leading NATO member states.
Therefore, there are deep doubts that any noticeable breakthrough can be achieved in the mentioned direction in the coming years. This is explained by the fact that Washington has a negative attitude to the resumption of constructive negotiations on this issue and has taken a negative stance on 15 key issues that are related to arms control.
In recent years, the U.S. side has unilaterally withdrawn from four treaties related to nuclear and non-nuclear weapons; refused to sign and ratify three treaties in this series; flagrantly violated and continues to violate four other multilateral treaties; and refused at all to discuss four other potential treaties with Russia.
In recent years, the U.S. side has unilaterally withdrawn from four treaties related to nuclear and non-nuclear weapons (ABM Treaty, INF Treaty, Iran nuclear deal known as JCPOA and ATT or Arms Trade Treaty); refused to sign and ratify three treaties in this series (CTBT, TPNW and Adapted CFE Treaty); flagrantly violated and continues to violate four other multilateral treaties (NPT, New START, Open Skies Treaty, and BWC/CWC); and refused at all to discuss four other potential treaties with Russia (INCSEA Treaty on proliferation to submarines, EST or European Security Treaty, PAROS or Treaty on the Prevention of Arms Race in Outer Space and Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space).
It is hardly advisable to revisit this issue with the United States in the context of the large-scale armed aggression unleashed against the Russian Federation under the direction and tight leadership of Washington.
Russia should also take into account the call of the American Congressional Commission that the United States should be prepared for two simultaneous wars with Russia and China, including a nuclear war.
The New START: no resumption
The resumption of the New START process is also hindered by six key U.S. military strategies endorsed by the Biden administration. They all are aggressive-offensive in nature toward Russia and China, and the current U.S. nuclear military strategic posture envisions a nuclear missile first strike against Russia and China, reinforced by global missile defense and general-purpose conventional forces.
The United States and its closest NATO allies have dramatically strengthened their nuclear arms and missile defense weapons, as well as their general-purpose forces, which are classified as forward-deployed assets, i.e., those deployed in close proximity to Russia. Unfortunately, this term - "forward-deployed assets" - has practically disappeared from the Russian military-political lexicon, although it is legitimate when qualifying the military activity of the above-mentioned states, to which the term "hostile states" is quite applicable. The existing definition in the form of "unfriendly states" seems too soft in this context.
The position of Russian liberal and clearly pro-Western experts, who continue to advocate the renewal of the Russian-American negotiation process "at any cost" and on the basis of excessive and unjustified Russian concessions to the United States and NATO in the area of the extended New START, also raises questions.
If there is no NFU, the first nuclear strike should be proclaimed
It would be correct for Russia to propose that all other nuclear-armed states agree on the non-use of nuclear weapons in a first strike or no nuclear-first strike (NFS), which would effectively avert the threat of nuclear missile war without entering into lengthy negotiations. And, if, for example, the USA, the United Kingdom, France, Israel and some others refuse to join this possible initiative (that is very likely), Moscow could switch to a ‘nuclear first-strike’ doctrine to be on an equal footing with all NW first strikers.
The transition to this strategy will undoubtedly contribute to the Russian Federation's defense against a real nuclear-missile first strike by the United States and NATO, will not allow it to miss it, and will equalize it with a similar military-strategic setup with the nuclear-armed states of the West. The Russian Federation's transition to such a doctrine seems even more effective in terms of its impact on NATO's nuclear-armed states than the withdrawal of national instruments of ratification of the CTBT.
It makes no sense to start negotiations with the U.S. side on strategic nuclear offensive arms reductions after February 2026, when the New START expires. In the prospective of ‘the Newest START’, the White House will insist on limiting or reducing all seven prospective Russian weapons in which our state has a clear military-technical advantage. These are the six types announced in 2018 in President Vladimir Putin's Address to the Federal Assembly, as well as the Russian hypersonic missile Zirkon capable hit sea-based and land-based targets, which was put into service earlier this year.
Moreover, it seems inappropriate to conduct these negotiations in the context of the ongoing combined massive direct aggression by Ukraine and NATO against the Russian Federation, which the leading countries of this military pact, led by the United States of America, intend to continue by supplying lethal weapons that kill Russian servicemen and civilians and by making significant financial contributions to the military machine of the ultra-nationalist Kyiv regime.
The practice of demonstrations of the latest Russian weapons systems to U.S. and other NATO representatives with the aim of ‘involving them in the negotiation process in the arms control’ should also be abandoned. Such demonstrations will be used by the hostile side as a pretext to start the negotiation process in order to weaken Russia's defense potential of its national combined integrated deterrence, which includes not only nuclear missile weapons, but also hypersonic glide vehicles and some other strike capabilities based on new physical principles.
Maintaining national defense and national security at an appropriate level is a sacred, iron-clad and undisputable task of the Russian Federation.
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Dr. Vladimir Kozin, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Military Sciences and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, Leading Expert of the Center for Political-Military Studies, MGIMO University.
He is the author of 21 various monographs on nuclear and other arms control issues. His recently released book is entitled “U.S. Basic Military Strategies: Their Analysis and Practical Employment”. Moscow: Sabashnikov’s Publishing House. 2023. 516 PP. It is written in English and Russian under separate covers. The book examines 12 major U.S. military strategies enacted by presidents D. Trump and J. Biden (6 plus 6).