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Russia and weapons of mass destruction

According to the Federation of American Scientists,

an organization that assesses nuclear weapon stockpiles, in 2013, Russia possessed an estimated 8,500 total nuclear warheads of which 1,800 were strategically
operational.[2] The organization also claims that the U.S.
had an estimated total 7,700 nuclear warheads of which
1,950 were strategically operational.[3] Other sources
however say that the U.S. has more nuclear warheads and
the actual numbers remain a subject of estimations and
ongoing constant discussion depending on their respective source. The gures are, by necessity, only estimates
because the exact number of nuclear weapons in each
countrys possession is a closely held national secret.[3]
In addition to nuclear weapons, Russia declared an arsenal of 39,967 tons of chemical weapons in 1997,[4] of
which 57% have been destroyed.[5][6] The Soviet Union
ratied the Geneva Protocol on April 5, 1928 with reservations. The reservations were later dropped on January
18, 2001. Russia is also party to the Biological Weapons
Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. The
Soviet Union had a peak stockpile of 45,000 nuclear warheads in 1988.[7] It is estimated that from 1949 to 1991
the Soviet Union produced approximately 55,000 nuclear


orandum on Security Assurances. China and France also

made statements in support of the memorandum.[9]

1.2 Nuclear arsenal of Russia

The exact numbers of nuclear warheads remain a subject
of estimations and ongoing constant discussion depending on their respective source. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that Russia possesses 4,650
active nuclear warheads, while the U.S. has 2,468.[3]
Alexander Khramchikhin, an analyst at the Institute for
Political and Military Analysis said Russia has 3,100 nuclear warheads while the U.S. has some 5,700.[10] According to 2011 data from the New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Oensive Arms facts sheet,
the United States has the largest number of deployed nuclear weapons in the world, 300 more than Russia.[11]
Mid-2007 Russia was estimated to have around 3,281
active strategic nuclear warheads in its arsenal.[12] Russia also has a large number of tactical nuclear weapons,
although there are no treaty requirements for it to publish data on these weapons so the exact numbers are
unknown.[13] An estimate by Hans M. Kristensen and
Robert Norris estimate Russia has approximately 2,000
deployed tactical warheads.[14] Strategic nuclear forces of
Russia include:[12]

Nuclear weapons

1. Land based Strategic Rocket Forces: 489 missiles

carrying up to 1,788 warheads; they employ immobile (silos), like SS-18 Satan, and mobile delivery
systems, like SS-27 Topol M.

Soviet era

Main article: Soviet atomic bomb project


2. Sea based Strategic Fleet: 12 submarines carrying

up to 609 warheads; they should be able to employ, in a near future, delivery systems like SS-N-30

Post-Soviet era

At the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Soviet

nuclear weapons were deployed in four of the new republics: Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. In
May 1992, these four states signed the Lisbon Protocol,
3. Strategic Aviation: 79 bombers carrying up to 884
agreeing to join the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of
cruise missiles.
Nuclear Weapons, with Russia the successor to the Soviet Union as a nuclear state, and the other three states
joining as non-nuclear states.
As of July 2009, Russias strategic arsenal reportedly
Ukraine agreed to give up its weapons to Russia, in ex- shrunk to 2,723 warheads, including: 367 ICBMs with
change for guarantees of Ukrainian territory from Rus- 1,248 warheads, 13 SSBNs with 591 warheads and 76
sia, the UK and the USA, known as the Budapest Mem- bombers with 884 warheads.[15]



Nuclear weapons in Russian military posals to further reduce each nations nuclear stockpiles
to 1,500. Russia, in turn, refused to discuss reduction of
tactical nuclear weapons.[21]

Main article: Military doctrine of Russia

Russia is actively producing and developing new nuclear

weapons. Since 1997 it manufactures Topol-M (SS-27)
According to a Russian military doctrine stated in 2010, ICBMs.
nuclear weapons could be used by Russia in response to There were allegations that Russia contributed to North
the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass de- Korean nuclear program, selling it the equipment for the
struction against it or its allies, and also in case of aggres- safe storage and transportation of nuclear materials.[22]
sion against Russia with the use of conventional weapons Nevertheless, Russia condemned Korean nuclear tests
when the very existence of the state is threatened.[16]
since then.[23]


Nuclear proliferation

After the Korean War, the Soviet Union transferred nuclear technology and weapons to the Peoples Republic of
China as an adversary of the United States and NATO.
According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, Khrushchevs nuclearproliferation process started with Communist China in
April 1955, when the new ruler in the Kremlin consented to supply Beijing a sample atomic bomb and to
help with its mass production. Subsequently, the Soviet
Union built all the essentials of Chinas new military nuclear industry.[17]
Russia is one of the ve Nuclear Weapons States
(NWS) under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT), which Russia ratied (as the Soviet Union) in
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, a
number of Soviet-era nuclear warheads remained on the
territories of Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Under
the terms of the Lisbon Protocol to the NPT, and following the 1995 Trilateral Agreement between Russia,
Belarus, and the USA, these were transferred to Russia,
leaving Russia as the sole inheritor of the Soviet nuclear
arsenal. It is estimated that the Soviet Union had approximately 45,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled at the time of
its collapse.

According to high-ranking Russian SVR defector Sergei

Tretyakov, a businessman told him that he keeps his own
nuclear bomb at his dacha outside Moscow.[24]

1.5 Nuclear sabotage allegations from

The highest-ranking GRU defector Stanislav Lunev described alleged Soviet plans for using tactical nuclear
weapons for sabotage against the United States in the
event of war. He described Soviet-made suitcase nukes
identied as RA-115s (or RA-115-01s for submersible
weapons) which weigh from fty to sixty pounds. These
portable bombs can last for many years if wired to an
electric source. In case there is a loss of power, there
is a battery backup. If the battery runs low, the weapon
has a transmitter that sends a coded message either by
satellite or directly to a GRU post at a Russian embassy
or consulate..[25]
Lunev was personally looking for hiding places for
weapons caches in the Shenandoah Valley area.[25] He
said that it is surprisingly easy to smuggle nuclear
weapons into the US either across the Mexican border
or using a small transport missile that can slip though undetected when launched from a Russian airplane.[25] US
Congressman Curt Weldon supported claims by Lunev,
but Weldon said later the FBI discredited Lunev, saying that he exaggerated things. [26] Searches of the areas identied by Lunev who admits he never planted
any weapons in the US have been conducted, but
law-enforcement ocials have never found such weapons
caches, with or without portable nuclear weapons in the

The collapse of the Soviet Union allowed for a warming of relations with NATO. Fears of a nuclear holocaust
lessened. In September 1997, the former secretary of
the Russian Security Council Alexander Lebed claimed
100 suitcase sized nuclear weapons were unaccounted
for. He said he was attempting to inventory the weapons
when he was red by President Boris Yeltsin in October
1996.[18] In 2005, Sergey Sinchenko, a legislator from the
Yulia Tymoshenko Bloc, said 250 nuclear weapons were 2 Biological weapons
unaccounted for. When comparing documents of nuclear
weapons transferred from Ukraine to weapons received
by Russia, there was a 250-weapon discrepancy.[19] In- Main article: Soviet biological weapons program
deed, several US politicians have expressed worries and
Soviet program of biological weapons was initially develpromised legislation addressing the threat.[20]
Defense of the Soviet Union (beIn 2002, the United States and Russia agreed to reduce oped by the Ministry of[28]
their stockpiles to not more than 2,200 warheads each in
the SORT treaty. In 2003, the US rejected Russian pro- The Soviet Union signed the Biological Weapons Con-


Novichok agents

vention on April 10, 1972 and ratied the treaty on

March 26, 1975. However, it subsequently augmented
its biowarfare programs. After 1975, the program of
Biological weapons was run primarily by the civilian
Biopreparat agency, although it also included numerous
facilities run by the Soviet Ministry of Defense, Ministry
of Agriculture, Ministry of Chemical Industry, Ministry
of Health, and Soviet Academy of Sciences.[28]
According to Ken Alibek, who was deputy-director of
Biopreparat, the Soviet biological weapons agency, and
who defected to the USA in 1992, weapons were developed in labs in isolated areas of the Soviet Union including mobilization facilities at Omutininsk, Penza and
Pokrov and research facilities at Moscow, Stirzhi and
Vladimir. These weapons were tested at several facilities most often at Rebirth Island (Vozrozhdeniya) in the
Aral Sea by ring the weapons into the air above monkeys tied to posts, the monkeys would then be monitored
to determine the eects. According to Alibek, although
Soviet oensive program was ocially ended in 1992,
Russia may be still involved in the activities prohibited
by BWC.[28]

2011, Russia has destroyed 57% of its stockpile. Russia also destroyed all of its declared Category 2 (10,616
MTs) and Category 3 chemicals.[6]
Russia has stored its chemical weapons (or the required
chemicals) which it declared within the CWC at 8 locations: in Gorny (Saratov Oblast) (2.9% of the declared stockpile by mass) and Kambarka (Udmurt Republic) (15.9%) stockpiles already have been destroyed.
In Shchuchye (Kurgan Oblast) (13.6%), Maradykovsky
(Kirov Oblast) (17.4%) and Leonidovka (Penza Oblast)
(17.2%) destruction takes place, while installations are
under construction in Pochep (Bryansk Oblast) (18.8%)
and Kizner (Udmurt Republic) (14.2%).[4]

3.1 Novichok agents

Main article: Novichok agent
In addition to the chemical weapons declared under the
convention, Russia is expected to be in possession of a
series of nerve agents developed in the 1970s and 1980s,
some of which are one order of magnitude more lethal
(based on LD50 exposure testing) than VX (the agent
with the lowest LD50 in the US arsenal).[30] The agents
are termed Novichok (newcomer) agents.

In 1993, the story about the Sverdlovsk anthrax leak was

published in Russia. The incident occurred when spores
of anthrax were accidentally released from a military facility in the city of Sverdlovsk (formerly, and now again,
Yekaterinburg) 900 miles east of Moscow on April 2,
1979. The ensuing outbreak of the disease resulted in
94 people becoming infected, 64 of whom died over a 3.2 Disposal facilities
period of six weeks.[28]
Russia has a number of factories for destruction of its
chemical weapons arsenal: Gorny in Saratov Oblast,
Kambarka in Udmurtia, Leonidovka Penza Oblast,
3 Chemical weapons
Maradykovsky in Kirov Oblast, Shchuchye in Kurgan
Oblast and the latest one Pochep in the Bryansk Oblast 70
Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention on Jankm from the border with Ukraine, built with funds from
uary 13, 1993, and ratied it on November 5, 1997.
Italy in accordance with the agreement signed between
Russia declared an arsenal of 39,967 tons of chemical
the two countries.[31][32] On July 2013, Minister of Inweapons in 1997 consisting of:
dustry and Trade Denis Manturov in Dmitry Medvedevs
Cabinet said the last Russian chemical disposal facility in
blister agents: Lewisite, mustard, Lewisite-mustard- Kizner, Udmurtia, should be built in due time in Decemmix (HL)
ber 2013.[33]
nerve agents: Sarin, Soman, VX
Ratication was followed by three years of inaction on
chemical weapons destruction because of the August
1998 Russian nancial crisis.
Russia met its treaty obligations by destroying 1% of its
chemical agents by the Chemical Weapons Conventions
2002 deadline,[29] but requested technical and nancial
assistance and extensions on the deadlines of 2004 and
2007 due to the environmental challenges of chemical
disposal. This extension procedure spelled out in the
treaty has been utilized by other countries, including the
United States. The extended deadline for complete destruction (April 2012) was not met.[5] As of October

4 See also
Father of all bombs
United States and weapons of mass destruction
Nuclear weapons and the United States
List of Russian weaponry makers
Defence industry of Russia
Military doctrine of Russia


[2] Status of World Nuclear Forces. Federation of American Scientists. July 16, 2009. Retrieved 23 July 2009.
[3] Federation of American Scientists :: Status of World Nuclear Forces
[4] Russia prole. 2009. Retrieved 2010-09-17.


[23] Russia expresses serious concern over DPRK nuke issue. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
[24] Pete Earley, Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russias
Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War,
Penguin Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0-399-15439-3, pages
[25] Stanislav Lunev. Through the Eyes of the Enemy: The Autobiography of Stanislav Lunev, Regnery Publishing, Inc.,
1998. ISBN 0-89526-390-4.

[5] Global Campaign to Destroy Chemical Weapons Passes

60 Percent Mark. OPCW. 8 July 2010 (Accessed 19 August 2010)

[26] Nicholas Horrock, FBI focusing on portable nuke threat,

UPI (20 December 2001).

[6] Opening Statement by the Director-General to the Conference of the States Parties at its Sixteenth Session.
OPCW. 28 November 2011. Retrieved 1 May 2012.

[27] Steve Goldstein and Chris Mondics, Some Weldonbacked allegations unconrmed; Among them: A plot to
crash planes into a reactor, and missing suitcase-size Soviet atomic weapons. Philadelphia Inquirer (15 March
2006) A7.

[7] Robert S. Norris and Hans M. Kristensen, "Global nuclear

stockpiles, 1945-2006, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
62, no. 4 (July/August 2006), 64-66.
[8] Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved October 24,
[9] The Budapest Memorandum and Crimea. VOA. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
[10] What the Russian papers say | What Russian papers say |
RIA Novosti

[28] Alibek, K. and S. Handelman. Biohazard: The Chilling

True Story of the Largest Covert Biological Weapons Program in the World Told from Inside by the Man Who Ran
it. Delta (2000) ISBN 0-385-33496-6
[29] News
[30] Tucker, J. B.; War of Nerves; Anchor Books; New York;
2006; pp 232-233.

[11] U.S. has 'nuclear superiority' over Russia. RIA Novosti.


[31] ""Russia opens new chemical weapons destruction plant,

RIA Novosti, November 2010. RIA Novosti. Retrieved
October 24, 2014.

[12] Russias nuclear capabilities by Adrian Blomeld,

Telegraph, 5 June 2007

[32] ""Italy to help Russia destroy chemical weapons"". RIA

Novosti. Retrieved October 24, 2014.

[13] Russia prole Nuclear Threat Initiative

[33] Last Russian chemical disposal facility in Udmurtia to be

built in December. Itar Tass. Retrieved 10 July 2013.

[14] Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris, Russian nuclear

forces, 2012, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
[15] Russian strategic nuclear forces (November 2009)
[16] Russian military doctrine (in Russian)
[17] Tyrants and the Bomb - by Ion Mihai Pacepa, National
Review, October 17, 2006
[18] Russian Ocials Deny Claims Of Missing Nuclear
Weapons. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
[19] Russian and Ukrainian Ocials Deny New Allegations
That Nuclear Warheads Were Lost in the 1990s
[20] Nuclear Dangers: Fear Increases of Terrorists Getting
Hands on 'Loose' Warheads as Security Slips. October
19, 1997. Retrieved October 24, 2014.
[21] Russias Nuclear Policy in the 21st Century Environment analysis by Dmitri Trenin, IFRI Proliferation Papers n13,
[22] Russia secretly oered North Korea nuclear technology
- by a Special Correspondent in Pyongyang and Michael
Hirst, Telegraph, September 7, 2006.

6 External links
Video archive of the Soviet Unions Nuclear Testing
New Video: A World Without Nuclear Weapons
Abolishing Weapons of Mass Destruction: Addressing Cold War and Other Wartime Legacies in the
Twenty-First Century By Mikhail S. Gorbachev
Russias Nuclear Policy in the 21st Century Environment - analysis by Dmitri Trenin, IFRI Proliferation
Papers n13, 2005
Nuclear Threat Initiative on Russia by National
UK statement on the chemical weapons convention
- Link is not available now
1999 Nuclear stockpile estimate

Nuclear Notebook: Russian nuclear forces, 2006,
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March/April
Nuclear Current information on nuclear
stockpiles in Russia
Chemical Weapons in Russia: History, Ecology,
Politics by Lev Fedorov, Moscow, Center of Ecological Policy of Russia, 27 July 1994
History of the Russian Nuclear Weapons Program
The Arsenals of Nuclear Weapons Powers
Nuclear pursuits, 2012


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