A new US intelligence assessment has concluded that Russia has likely been secretly conducting “very low-yield nuclear tests to upgrade its nuclear arsenal,” marking the first time Washington has accused the Kremlin of failing to strictly observe its commitments under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, according to the Wall Street Journal.Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, speaks to aides and military personnel in Moscow in December. PHOTO: SPUTNIK/REUTERS
The alleged tests, conducted at the remote archipelago of Novaya Zemlya above the Arctic Circle, come as the agreed upon arms-control framework between the new nations has shown signs of deteriorating, as both sides pursue “ambitious programs” to develop new nuclear weapons.
Negotiations for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which bans test explosions of nuclear weapons of any size, concluded in 1996. The treaty hasn’t been ratified by enough countries to take effect, but the world’s major powers have agreed to abide by its terms.
The treaty allows a range of activities to assure the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons as long as they don’t produce a nuclear explosive yield, including experiments involving fissile material. –Wall Street Journal
“The United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the ‘zero-yield’ standard,” Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, director of the US Defense Intelligence Agency planned to say in a Wednesday speech at the Hudson Institute think tank, according to his prepared remarks.
Officials have declined to reveal the size of the alleged Russian tests, nor would they say if concerns over the tests have been raised directly with Moscow.
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