June 25, 2024

(Bloomberg) — President Vladimir Putin said Russia may revoke a ban on nuclear weapons tests, complaining about the US failure to ratify a treaty that imposed the prohibition.

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“We could mirror the behavior of the US, which signed but didn’t ratify” the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Putin said Thursday at the annual meeting of the Valdai Club in the Black Sea city of Sochi.

“This is a question for lawmakers,” he said. “Theoretically, we can revoke this ratification.”

The Russian leader said that military experts advised that tests of new nuclear weapons would provide guarantees that warheads are fully functional. Russia recently successfully tested a nuclear-powered missile called Burevestnik and has just brought into service the Sarmat, an advanced intercontinental nuclear ballistic missile, Putin said.

Read more: Russia Puts Nuclear-Capable Sarmat Missile on Combat Duty

Russia is one of the 178 countries that have ratified the treaty. The US, one of the 187 nations that signed the agreement, still hasn’t ratified it, which has to be done by a vote in the Senate. The US hasn’t carried out a nuclear test since signing the agreement.

Putin dismissed a call from a member of the audience to lower Russia’s threshold for a nuclear strike, saying there’s no need to change the nuclear doctrine as nothing threatens the country’s existence.

Russia earlier this year delivered tactical nuclear weapons to Belarus, ratcheting up tensions with the US and Europe over the war in Ukraine. Repeated hints from Kremlin officials since the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine that they might use the arms have triggered international alarm and warnings against resorting to nuclear weapons.

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