Nuclear Disarmament Russia

NPT Nuclear Weapon State


The Komsomolets, a Soviet nuclear-powered large attack submarine, www.cia.gov

Estimated Arsenal Size

Total stockpile size is uncertain because there is no accurate count of non-strategic nuclear weapons.

  • Approximately 7,000 warheads in the total inventory [1]
  • Active and operational warheads: estimated 4,200 [2]
  • Launchers of strategic delivery system: 523 [3]
  • Operational strategic warheads: approximately 1,765 [4]
  • Non-strategic and defensive nuclear forces: estimated ~1,850 [5]
  • Non-deployed warheads (in reserve or awaiting dismantlement): 2,700 [6]

Key Weapon Systems

Strategic
  • Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs): (SS-18, SS-19, SS-25, SS-27 Mod. 1, (also referred to as Topol-M), SS-27 Mod. 2 (also referred to as RS-24 Yars)) [7]
  • Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs): (SS-N-18, SS-N-23, SS-N-32 (entered service in 2014)); for delivery by six Delta IV (one of which is being overhauled) and three Delta III SSBNs (ballistic nuclear submarines). [8] The Russian navy is in the process of constructing eight Borey-class SSBNs to supplement other submarines and replace the aging Delta IIIs over the next decade. [9] Three of the submarines have entered into service, and 5 more are currently under construction. [10]
  • Bombers: (Tu-95 MS6, Tu-95 MS16, Tu-160, Tu-22 M3) [11]
Non-strategic


RSD-10 "Pioneer" - Soviet medium-range ballistic missile with warhead, Leonidl, commons.wikimedia.org

  • One estimate from 2012 states that Russia may have only 334 warheads for its air force, 330 for the navy, 210 for its army, and 166 for defense systems. [12] Another estimate from 2017 suggests much larger numbers. The report states that Russia has approximately 760 non-strategic warheads assigned to the Russian Navy, 570 to the Air Force, 150 to the Army, and 380 to other defense systems (air, missile, and coastal) for a total of approximately 1,850 non-strategic warheads. The available delivery systems include cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles, torpedoes, depth bombs, air-to-surface missiles, and surface-to-surface missiles. [13]
  • Non-strategic warheads are typically kept in central storage facilities, and therefore are not actively deployed. [14]

3. Estimated Destructive Power

  • Between 607 megatons and 1,273 megatons [15]

4. Military Fissile Material Stockpile (estimated)

5. Disarmament and Commitments to Reduce Arsenal Size

  • Legal obligation to pursue global disarmament under Article VI of the NPT. [18]
  • Under the New START treaty that entered into force on February 5, 2011, the United States and Russia agreed to reduce their deployed strategic warheads by 2018 to no more than 1,550 each; to deploy no more than 700 ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers; and to limit ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and heavy bombers to no more than 800 (whether deployed or not). [19]
  • U.S.-Soviet INF Treaty eliminated all ground-launched intermediate and short-range ballistic missiles and their launchers. [20]
  • Reduced arsenal to less than 6,000 warheads and 1,600 delivery vehicles under START I. [21]
  • Reduced strategic nuclear warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 (counted according to treaty guidelines) under SORT by 2012. [22]
  • The number of nonstrategic weapons is currently less than 25% of the 1991 amount. [23]
  • As of January 1, 2010, Russia had eliminated about 1,600 ICBM and SLBM launchers, 3,100 ICBMs and SLBMs, 47 nuclear submarines, and 67 heavy bombers. [24]
  • Russia currently deploys 1,765 warheads on 523 strategic delivery systems. [25]
  • At the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the Russian delegation stated that multilateral negotiations between all states possessing nuclear military capabilities are needed to advance disarmament. [26]


Russian HEU from nuclear weapons downblended into LEU, nnsa.energy.gov

Future commitments
  • Russia supports a verifiable Fissile Materials Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), provided that it does not cover existing stockpiles. [27]
  • Russia is not ready to set a target date to start negotiations with the United States on reducing tactical nuclear weapons, while the United States is seeking negotiations within a year after the entry into force of the New START treaty. Russia has indicated that it will not negotiate further non-strategic arms reductions unless NATO withdraws its non-strategic nuclear forces from Europe (approximately 200 U.S. supplied warheads). [28]
  • Russia, along with the other NPT nuclear weapon states (NWS), is against the initiative of an open-ended working group (OEWG) adopted by the 67th United Nations General Assembly to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for a world free of nuclear weapons. [29]
  • Russia, along with several other NPT NWS, takes the stance that discussions on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons will divert efforts away from practical steps to create conditions for further nuclear disarmament. [30]
  • Russia has reportedly deployed a new cruise missile with a range well in excess of 500 kilometers, allegedly violating the INF Treaty, which bans land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers. [31]
  • In June 2015 President Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian Federation would increase the size of its nuclear arsenal. Concerned over the placement of anti-missile defense systems near Russia’s border, Russia will add 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal. [32]

Nuclear Weapons Policy

Nuclear testing
Use of nuclear weapons
  • Retains first use policy. [36]
  • Negative Security Assurances to Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (NWFZ) treaty members: committed not to use nuclear weapons against members of the Tlatelolco and Rarotonga treaties. Ratified Protocols I and II of the Pelindaba treaty in 2011. [37] Has not signed the Bangkok treaty. [38] Has completed ratification of the Central Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (CANWFZ) treaty. [39]
  • Acknowledged the commitments of the nuclear weapon states to negative security assurances in UN Security Council Resolution 984 (1995). [40]
  • In the new Military Doctrine issued in February 2010, the criteria for the use of nuclear weapons have become tighter. The doctrine allows the use of nuclear weapons when "the very existence of Russia is under threat." The 2000 Doctrine allowed the use of nuclear weapons "in situations critical for the national security." [41]
  • The new Military Doctrine signed in December 2014 continues to support the country's right to use nuclear weapons to counter aggression that "threatens the very existence of Russia. [42]

Sources:
[1] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2017," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73.2 (March/April 2017), pp 115, www.thebulletin.org.
[2] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2017," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73.2 (March/April 2017), pp 116, www.thebulletin.org.
[3] U.S. Department of State, "New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms," Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, April 1, 2017, www.state.gov.
[4] U.S. Department of State, "New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms," Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, April 1, 2017, www.state.gov.
[5] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2017," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73.2 (March/April 2017), pp 116, www.thebulletin.org; see "Non-strategic" section for notes on disputing report results.
[6] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2017," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73.2 (March/April 2017), pp 115, www.thebulletin.org.
[7] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2017," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73.2 (March/April 2017), pp 116, www.thebulletin.org.
[8] Pavel Podvig, "Strategic fleet," Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, April 8, 2016, www.russianforces.org.
[9] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2017," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73.2 (March/April 2017), pp 121, www.thebulletin.org.
[10] Pavel Podvig, “The eighth Project 955 Borey submarine laid down at Sevmash,” Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, December 23, 2016, www.russianforces.org.
[11] Pavel Podvig, "Strategic Aviation," Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces, updated March 2, 2017, www.russianforces.org.
[12] Igor Sutyagin, “Atomic Accounting: A New Estimate of Russia’s Non-Strategic Nuclear Forces,” RUSI Publications, November 7, 2012, pp 2, www.rusi.org.
[13] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2017," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73.2 (March/April 2017), pp 116, www.thebulletin.org.
[14] Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2017," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 73.2 (March/April 2017), pp 123, www.thebulletin.org.
[15] Eliminating Nuclear Threats, ICNND Report, www.icnnd.org; 607 megatons is an estimate based on calculations from information presented in Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "Russian Nuclear Forces, 2012," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, March 5, 2012, www.thebulletin.org.
[16] "Countries: Russia," International Panel on Fissile Materials, August 5, 2016, www.fissilematerials.org.
[17] "Countries: Russia," International Panel on Fissile Materials, August 5, 2016, www.fissilematerials.org.
[18] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[19] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[20] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, INF Treaty, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, updated August 5, 2011, www.nonproliferation.org; Statement by the Delegation of the Russian Federation at the First Session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, Cluster 1: Disarmament, May 4, 2012, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[21] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, START I, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, updated July 12, 2010, www.nonproliferation.org.
[22] Statement by the Delegation of the Russian Federation, first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference: Cluster 1 (Nuclear Disarmament), May 4, 2012, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[23] Anatoly Diakoy, Eugene Miasnikov, Timur Kadvshev, "Nuclear Reductions After New START: Obstacles and Opportunities," Arms Control Today, Vol. 41. May 4, 2011, pp. 15-22, www.armscontrol.org.
[24] Russian Statement at Main Committee I of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, May 7, 2010, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[25] U.S. Department of State, "New START Treaty Aggregate Numbers of Strategic Offensive Arms," Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, April 1, 2017, www.state.gov.
[26] Russian Statement at Main Committee I of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, May 1, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[27] Ambassador Valery Loshchinin, Statement to the Conference on Disarmament, May 16, 2006, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[28] "Russia Rejects Immediate Talks on Tactical Nuke Cuts," NTI Global Security Newswire, February 8, 2011, www.nti.org/gsn.
[29] Beatrice Fihn, "Disarmament Machinery," First Committee Monitor, Reaching Critical Will, November 12, 2012, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[30] "P5 announcement not to attend the Oslo conference," Oslo 2013: Humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, Reaching Critical Will, March 2013, www.reachingcriticalwill.org; Alexander Kmentt, “The development of the international initiative on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and its effect on the nuclear weapons debate,” International Review of the Red Cross 97 (2015), pp 696.
[31] Sokov, Nikolai, and Miles Pomper, "Russia's Actions Resolve NATO Nuclear Dilemma — for Now," September 2014, www.nonproliferation.org.
Michael R. Gordon, “Russia Deploys Missile, Violating Treaty and Challenging Trump,” New York Times, February 14, 2017, www.nytimes.com.
[32] Maria Tsvetkova, "Putin says Russia beefing up nuclear arsenal, NATO denounces 'sabre-rattling,'" Reuters, June 16, 2015, www.reuters.com.
[33] Nuclear Testing, Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), www.ctbto.org.
[34] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[35] Inventory of International Nonproliferation Organizations & Regimes, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[36] Nikolai Sokov, "The New 2010 Russian Military Doctrine: The Nuclear Angle," James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[37] International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program (IONP), "Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (NWFZ) Clearinghouse," James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[38] Mikhail I. Uliyanov, General Debate Statement at the first session of the Preparatory Committee for the 2015 NPT Review Conference, April 30, 2012, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[39] Russian Statement at Main Committee I of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, May 1, 2015, www.reachingcriticalwill.org.
[40] International Organizations and Nonproliferation Program (IONP), "Nuclear-Weapon-Free-Zone (NWFZ) Clearinghouse," James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, www.nonproliferation.org.
[41] Nikolai Sokov, "The New, 2010 Russian Military Doctrine: The Nuclear Angle," James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, February 5, 2010, www.nonproliferation.org.
[42] Carol J. Williams, "Russia revises military doctrine to name NATO as chief threat," LA Times, December 26, 2014, www.latimes.com.

April 6, 2017
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The Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection contains information and analysis of nuclear weapons disarmament proposals and progress worldwide, including detailed coverage of disarmament progress in countries who either possess or host other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.