The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Russian nuclear test would send warning signal, prompt others to follow suit

Russia may be paving the way to conduct a nuclear test, a move that would sharply raise tensions with the West and likely prompt other world powers to resume testing for the first time this century.

President Vladimir Putin last week said Russia’s parliament should consider withdrawing Moscow’s ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which prohibits tests involving nuclear explosions. Parliamentary leaders were due to discuss the issue on Monday.

Some Western security analysts now see a growing likelihood of a Russian test, even though Putin said the aim was only to mirror the position of the United States, which has signed but not ratified the treaty.

“A Russian nuclear test is clearly very much on the cards now. I don’t think it’s a certainty, but it shouldn’t surprise anybody if that happens,” said James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Matthew Harries, director of proliferation and nuclear policy at the RUSI think-tank in London, said cancelling Russia’s ratification would create a “legal and presentational framework for Russia to test if it wants to”.

If Moscow did conduct a test, he said, “it would be a strong form of signalling, to put the nuclear threat in people’s minds, to try to signal resolve and to evoke fear”.

Former Soviet and Russian diplomat Nikolai Sokov went further, saying a Russian nuclear test would mark a very serious escalation towards actually using an atomic weapon.

For that reason, Sokov said, he did not expect Russia to test at this point. Rather, he said, rescinding ratification would be a political step and part of a wider review of Moscow’s security obligations to remove perceived imbalances and “level the field” with the United States.

“At the moment I see a nuclear test as unlikely but the situation is very tense and an escalation is not impossible,” said Sokov, now senior fellow at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

Read more at AOL

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.

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The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.