A top U.S. military official has said that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Russia may be conducting low-yield nuclear testing that may be violation of a major international treaty.
Lieutenant General Robert Ashley said in a speech on May 29 that Russia could be doing tests that go 'beyond what is believed necessary, beyond zero yield.'
The problem, he said, was that Russia 'has not been willing to affirm' they are adhering to the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Asked specifically whether U.S. intelligence agencies had concluded Russia was conducting such tests in violation of the treaty, Ashley said, 'They've not affirmed the language of zero yield.'
'We believe they have the capability to do it, the way that they're set up,' Ashley said during an appearance at the Hudson Institute, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosions, either military or civilian, in any type of situation. It's been signed and ratified by Russia, and signed by the United States.
There was no immediate comment by Russian officials to the conclusions, which were first reported May 29 by The Wall Street Journal.
The assertion comes with several major arms-control treaties under strain, largely due to the toxic state of relations between Washington and Moscow.
Earlier this year, President Donald Trump's administration announced it was pulling out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, an agreement that eliminated an entire class of missiles.
Another treaty, New START, is due to expire in 2021 unless the United States and Russia agree to extend it for five years.
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