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This handout picture taken and released by the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia's parliament, on Oct. 25 shows senators attending a session in Moscow.Supplied/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s parliament completed the passage of a law on Wednesday withdrawing ratification of the global treaty banning nuclear weapons tests, evidence of the deep chill in relations with the United States as Moscow pursues its war in Ukraine.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Russia was not prepared to resume discussing nuclear issues with the U.S. unless Washington dropped its “hostile” policy.

The bill to deratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was approved by 156 votes to zero in the upper house after the lower house also passed it unanimously. It now goes to President Vladimir Putin for signing.

Mr. Putin had requested the change to “mirror” the position of the United States, which signed the CTBT in 1996 but never ratified it.

Though it has never formally come into force, the CTBT has made nuclear testing a taboo – no country except North Korea has conducted a test involving a nuclear explosion this century.

Russia says it will not resume testing unless Washington does, but arms control experts say a test by either Russia or the United States could trigger a new arms race – and more testing by other countries – at a moment of acute tension, with wars raging in Ukraine and the Middle East.

CNN published satellite images last month showing that Russia, the United States and China have all expanded their nuclear test sites in recent years.

The U.S. Energy Department said last week it had conducted a chemical explosion at its test site in Nevada “to improve the United States’ ability to detect low-yield nuclear explosions around the world”.

Speaking to Russian lawmakers before Wednesday’s vote, Mr. Ryabkov said the Nevada blast was “undoubtedly a political signal”.

“As our president said, we must be on alert, and if the United States moves towards the start of nuclear tests, we will have to respond here in the same way,” he said.

Russia says its monitoring stations will keep supplying data to the global network that detects nuclear blasts.

But in separate comments, RIA news agency quoted Mr. Ryabkov as saying Russia was not ready to resume nuclear talks with the U.S.

Without changes in its “deeply fundamental hostile course,” he said, “a return to dialogue on strategic stability, including the topic of strategic offensive arms and other topics in the form that was previously practised, is simply impossible”.

Russia accuses Washington of trying to inflict a “strategic defeat” on it by arming Ukraine in the war. The U.S. says it is helping Kyiv to defend itself.

The absence of nuclear dialogue has called into question the fate of the New START treaty, which limits the number of strategic warheads that Russia and the U.S. can deploy.

Russia suspended the treaty this year and it is due to expire in 2026, leaving the two countries without any remaining bilateral nuclear weapons agreement.

Mr. Ryabkov said Moscow had received an unofficial memo from Washington on arms control and was looking at it, but it had “no novel elements”.

Russia has also successfully tested its ability to deliver a massive retaliatory nuclear strike by land, sea and air, a Kremlin statement said on Wednesday, a display of force which coincides with Moscow deratifying a landmark nuclear test ban treaty.

The exercise, which involved the test launch of missiles from a land-based silo, a nuclear submarine, and from long-range bomber aircraft, comes as Moscow is locked in what it casts as an existential standoff with the West over Ukraine.

With tensions at their highest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Russia – which has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal – is moving quickly to revoke its ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty to bring itself into line with the United States.

“Practical launches of ballistic and cruise missiles took place during the training,” the Kremlin said in a statement on the nuclear drills.

State TV showed Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu reporting by video link to Mr. Putin on the exercise, which he said was a rehearsal for “a massive nuclear strike” in response to an aggressor’s nuclear attack.

A Yars intercontinental ballistic missile was fired from a test site at a target in Russia’s far east, a nuclear-powered submarine launched a ballistic missile from the Barents Sea, and Tu-95MS long-range bombers test-fired air-launched cruise missiles, the Kremlin statement said.

“In the course of the events, the level of preparedness of the military command authorities and the skills of the senior and operational staff in organizing subordinate troops (forces) were tested,” it said.

“The tasks planned in the course of the training exercise were fully accomplished.”

Video footage of the exercise published by the Defence Ministry showed the land and submarine-based missiles noisily streaking into the night sky and nuclear-capable bomber aircraft taking off from an airfield under the cover of darkness.

Russia carries out such exercises to test its so-called nuclear triad from time to time. The United States also carries out regular nuclear drills.

Russia has made it clear that – despite its deratification – it has no plans to abandon a 1992 moratorium on nuclear test blasts in line with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which Moscow has signed.

Russia would only resume such testing – a move that Western military experts believe it might be tempted to do to signal intent and evoke fear in any standoff with the West – if the United States did so first, Moscow has said.

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