MOSCOW (Dispatches) -- Russia’s foreign ministry accused the United States on Tuesday of taking a "destructive” stance over the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and of preparing for a possible resumption of nuclear testing.
Moscow, which ratified the CTBT 20 years ago on Tuesday, said the non-proliferation and arms control regime was facing serious challenges and urged Washington to reconsider its position. It said the situation around the CTBT was "seriously deteriorating”.
"Russia is calling on ... above all the United States to reconsider its position and ‘give the green light’ to transform this most important agreement from the point of view of global security into a fully functioning international legal instrument,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Washington, which formally withdrew from the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty in August 2019, has signed but not ratified the CTBT, along with seven other countries.
According to SIPRI’s recent yearbook for 2020, the U.S. has 5,800 nuclear warheads, Russia has 6,375, China has 320, the UK has 215 and France has 290 warheads. The UK deploys its nuclear warheads on submarine-launched missiles, while France uses aircraft-launched cruise missiles and submarine-launched missiles. On the other hand, China has been operating a triad of land-launched, air-launched and submarine-launched missiles for decades.
When U.S. President Donald Trump announced in 2018 that he was ending U.S. participation in a treaty that limited the range of ground-launched missiles that the U.S. and Russia could develop to less than 5,500km, China’s arsenal was cited as a factor.
A senior U.S. official responsible for arms control negotiations has claimed that China is engaged in a "crash nuclear program” at its main nuclear test facility.
The Times newspaper of the UK reported on Tuesday that Marshall Billingslea, U.S. special presidential envoy for arms control, had claimed China was engaged in a "secretive and destabilizing” nuclear program. Billingslea told officials of NATO’s North Atlantic Council that China was working on a range of short-range, medium-range and long-range missile systems.
Billingslea claimed China was engaged in "year-round” activity at its nuclear test facility at Lop Nur in Xinjiang province.