U.S. Accuses Russia of Nuclear Testing, with No Evidence
June 3, 2019 (EIRNS)—On May 29, Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, Jr., the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, accused Russia of violating the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by carrying out nuclear weapons testing at its Novaya Zemlya range in the Arctic. Ashely’s accusation, however, was vague and presented without evidence, and he had to back away from it to some degree in response to audience questions.
“United States believes that Russia probably is not adhering to the nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the zero-yield standard,” he reported in his prepared remarks during a presentation at the Hudson Institute in Washington.
“Our understanding of nuclear weapon development leads us to believe Russia’s testing activities would help it improve its nuclear weapon capabilities. The United States, by contrast, has forgone such benefits by upholding a zero-yield standard.”
Under questioning from the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Gordon, however, Ashley had to go from “they’re probably testing” to “we believe they have the capability the way they’re set up.”
Other Trump Administration officials who, apparently, were there to back Ashely up were equally vague, saying Russia is “probably engaged in that sort of testing.”
The Russians, not surprisingly, responded angrily to Ashley’s claims.
“Washington is trying to divert attention from its own destructive policy on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty by accusing Russia of violating the moratorium on nuclear tests,” Russia’s Permanent Representative to International Organizations in Vienna Mikhail Ulyanov told Sputnik. “It looks more like a smoke screen and an attempt to divert attention from the destructive line of the United States regarding the CTBT.” Ulyanov said the U.S. is keeping its nuclear testing sites ready for possible resumption of nuclear tests. A Defense Science Board report, released towards the end of 2016 did, in fact, urge for the U.S. resumption of nuclear testing.
Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Anatoly Antonov charged that the U.S. went public with its accusations without ever consulting Moscow ahead of time, reported TASS May 30. “We categorically refute these accusations,” he stressed. “They did not put this forward at consultations but instead did it through the media.” He further stated that it looks like “a well-planned, orchestrated attack not only at Russia, but also at the arms control regime as a whole, at the architecture of strategic stability.”
On May 30, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement characterizing Ashley’s accusation: “We consider the U.S. statement that Russia has ‘probably’ carried out low-yield nuclear tests as a gross provocation. Such claims are absolutely unfounded and aimed at trying to again demonize our country,” the ministry said, reported TASS. “Unfortunately, such escapades involving global mass media have become common. As a rule, they occur when Washington seeks to withdraw from another international treaty or is caught with non-compliance.”
The ministry stressed that it is clear that these provocations are aimed at distracting attention from the U.S. refusal to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
“Moreover, it is not ruled out that Washington may be preparing under this cover to resume its own full-scale nuclear tests,” the ministry countered, and stating that Russia declared a moratorium on tests in 1991 and ratified the test ban treaty in 2000. “We are again calling on the U.S. to show a responsible approach and ratify the CTBT, and without this it cannot enter into force. U.S. political and military leaders should bear in mind that the return to the era of nuclear tests may trigger grave consequences for global stability,” the Foreign Ministry said.