In response, Russia on Wednesday conducted test-fires of ballistic missiles to simulate a “massive nuclear attack” and revoked its ratification of the Treaty Banning Nuclear Tests. According to researcher Heloise Fayette, events that are not an immediate threat, but further support the decline of global nuclear arms control policy. Interview.
Vladimir Putin threatens the red button again. On Wednesday October 25, the Russian president oversaw ballistic missile firings during military maneuvers aimed at simulating a “massive nuclear strike” in response to an “enemy nuclear attack”, in the words of Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.
On the same day, the lower house of the Russian parliament approved the withdrawal of ratification of a major treaty banning nuclear tests.
The vote comes against a backdrop of growing tensions between Moscow and Washington, which are embroiled in an arms race as the war in Ukraine continues.
In February 2023, Russia had already decided to stop participating in the New START Treaty, the last bilateral treaty binding the two countries on nuclear arms control, which provides for a freeze on strategic warships and bombs at 1,550.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov pointed out that renewed discussions with the Americans on the renewal of the agreement, which expires in 2026, were simply excluded, “unified without a change in the deep and fundamentally hostile attitude of the United States towards Russia.”
France 24 spoke to Heloise Fayette, a researcher at the Center for Security Studies of Ifry, to analyze the risks of these sanctions between the two powers that possess almost 90% of all existing nuclear weapons in the world. relations) and co-ordinator of prevention and augmentation programme.
FRANCE 24: This is not the first time that Vladimir Putin has mentioned the use of nuclear weapons in the context of the war in Ukraine. Should this threat be taken seriously? ?
Heloise Fayette : For Russia, evoking the nuclear threat is a way to remind itself of the deterrence capabilities it can leverage when struggling on the ground.
Wednesday’s military maneuvers are not the first of their kind. It’s an annual exercise, and Moscow has taken care to refer to it as simulating counterfire in the event of an “enemy nuclear attack.”
In my opinion, there is no indication that the Russian president is capable of unleashing nuclear weapons. Russia views the conflict in Ukraine as a local conflict, but nuclear deterrence helps avoid the escalation of this type of conflict. Using it would be completely counterproductive.
Can you explain to us the implications of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and why Russia revoked its ratification? ?
The treaty prohibits all nuclear tests, including underground tests, from the 1963 treaty, which is still possible from the point of view of international law.
However, it is important to note that this comprehensive ban agreement is yet to come into force as it needs to be ratified by certain countries like the US and China first. Russia has already threatened to withdraw to align itself with the US position. Although this “tratification” is symbolic it is now being done.
In the current climate of heightened tensions with Washington, Russia wants to be prepared if the US conducts tests, even if neither side actually wants to.
For Russia, this is a declarative effect aimed at criticizing standards perceived as imposed by the West. Because the ban on nuclear tests is still important, no one wants to be associated with them except North Korea, the last country to conduct them.
As for the New START Treaty, negotiations on nuclear arms control are still possible or the treaty will expire in 2026 ?
Russia has already suspended its participation, so New START can be considered buried. This type of agreement was negotiated several years ago and is no longer under discussion. The issue of arms control is parasitic on rivalries between powers, whereas it should be protected from them.
It is affected by tensions between Moscow and Washington but also between Washington and Beijing. China does not want to enter into this type of deal with the US at a time when it is rapidly increasing its nuclear arsenal. But it still lags behind Washington and Moscow. In Beijing’s view, this increase is essential to cement its position as the world’s leading power. Conversely, the Americans, who want to limit Chinese power, are apparently in favor of it.
Meanwhile, international arms control standards are falling. The entire disarmament architecture built during the Cold War is being dismantled.
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fromes attackHamas’ new war breaks out in Israel. The Jewish state is the only regional power possessing nuclear weapons. Could he consider using it in the event of a fire? ?
First, it must be remembered that the Israeli nuclear theory is very specific, because the Jewish state neither denies nor confirms that it has this weapon, although we know they have it.
Then, possession of nuclear weapons above all serves to deter another state from using its own. So its role is very out of sync with the conflict situation against Hamas, which is not a state and certainly not this weapon. Also, working on a small territory like the Gaza Strip is completely unthinkable because it is too dangerous for Israel. Its use in the context of this conflict seems highly unlikely, even if it were expanded.
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