The Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday warned the US not to resume full-scale nuclear tests after President Vladimir Putin withdrew Moscow’s ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in order to restore parity.
“The United States must understand that conducting full-scale tests, for which the infrastructure in Nevada is reportedly prepared, will force us to respond in kind,” the ministry said in a statement.
Last month, the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) carried out an underground detonation at a site northwest of Las Vegas with the purpose of “improving the detection of underground nuclear explosive tests.” The explosion involved “chemical high-explosives and radiotracers,” the NNSA said.
On Thursday, Moscow officially withdrew its ratification of the CTBT, noting that the US Congress has avoided ratifying the 1996 agreement for over 25 years “under far-fetched pretexts.”
“This couldn’t go on forever,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. “In conditions when the United States is pursuing a deeply hostile course towards our country, maintaining the previous imbalance in approaches to the CTBT that has developed between Moscow and Washington turned out to be no longer possible.”
The US has not conducted a live nuclear test since 1992. Russia has openly said it will not resume testing first but will respond if the US forces its hand.
However, the Pentagon has recently announced plans for developing a high-yield version of the B61 gravity bomb, while a congressional advisory body has urged a massive expansion of the US nuclear arsenal, no matter the cost.
Earlier this week, the US Air Force destroyed an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) during a test, after it encountered an unspecified “anomaly” that will need to be investigated. It was the second such test since early September. The US is planning to replace the aging missiles with a new design, which is expected to be ready sometime in the 2030s.