Missile Last updated: February, 2013
When the Soviet Union collapsed in December 1991, Kazakhstan inherited 1,410 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on R-36M (NATO designation SS-18 "Satan") intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs); X-55 (NATO: AS-15A "Kent") air launched cruise missiles (ALCM); and an undisclosed number of tactical nuclear weapons, making it the fourth largest nuclear weapons possessing state in the world. The newly independent Kazakhstan quickly agreed to full nuclear disarmament, however, and became an active participant in the major nonproliferation treaties and regimes.
Immediate efforts included the signing of the Almaty Declaration (29 December 1991); the Lisbon Protocol (23 May 1992); ratification of START I (2 July 1992); and membership as a non-nuclear weapon state in the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) (14 February 1994). By September 1996 all of Kazakhstan's nuclear warheads, ICBM's, ALCM's, and Tu-95's were either destroyed or transferred to the Russian Federation, and by September 1999 all of Kazakhstan's ICBM missile silos had been destroyed.
Kazakhstan currently also adheres to UN Security Council Resolution 1540 (UNSCR 1540), has joined the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (the Hague Code), and has applied for membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The country retains a small arsenal of short range ballistic missiles (SRBM) tipped with conventional high explosives (HE), which are designed and employed for military support activities rather than deterrence. Additionally, Kazakhstan possesses an active space program with significant dual-use infrastructure relevant to missile development.
Table 1 shows the basic design characteristics of Kazakhstan's ballistic missile arsenal. Kazakhstan's arsenal is limited to two Soviet era SRBM's: the OTR-21 "Tochka-U" (NATO: SS-21-B "Scarab-B"; and the R-300 "Elbrus" (NATO: SS-1C "Scud-B"). The Tochka-U is a solid propellant, inertial guidance, battlefield SRBM (BSRBM) designed for tactical operations. It employs either a high explosives fragmentation or submunition warhead designed for use against troop concentrations and critical infrastructure targets such as airfields and military facilities. The combined characteristics of a solid propellant, inertial guidance, a low Circular Error Probable (CEP) (95m), and the road mobile vehicle, make the Tochka-U an adequate battlefield weapon.
The Scud-B, a liquid propellant, inertial guidance, road mobile SRBM, is one of the most proliferated ballistic missiles in existence. Fielded with high explosives, a high Circular Error Probable (450m) makes the Scud-B an imprecise and therefore ineffective battlefield weapon. Its primary function is city bombardment.
Kazakhstan inherited its ballistic missiles from the Soviet Union, and the country currently does not have an active missile program. Kazakhstan does possess significant infrastructure, through its space program, with dual-use utility for missile development and testing. This includes relevant academic and research institutions, assembly buildings, launch pads, propellant production facilities, and radar and tracking components/equipment, among others. However, Kazakhstan is not currently interested in developing a missile program.
Kazakhstan's Space Program
The National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan (KazCosmos) was officially established in March 2007. Kazakhstan has drafted a national strategy for "Development of Space Activities" through 2020. The 2020 plan is an extension of the 2011-2015 plan, which lists the following strategic goals:
- Creation and development of target space systems;
- Creation and development of ground based space infrastructure;
- Development of scientific and scientific-technological base for space activities;
- Realizing target projects in the area of space systems applications;
- Education and training of specialists; and,
- Creating a legal framework for space activities.
The foundation of Kazakhstan's space program is the Baikonur Cosmodrome, the largest and most active space complex in the world. The Cosmodrome covers an area roughly the size of Moldova. It includes 15 launch pads, 11 assembly buildings, propellant and fuel facilities, 5 tracking and control centers, 9 tracking stations, and testing facilities, among other facilities.
Currently, Kazakhstan leases the Cosmodrome to Russia, having recently extended the lease through 2050 at a price of $115 million a year. Russia uses the Baikonur complex for both civilian and military purposes, including all International Space Station (ISS) flights and ICBM tests. Russia and Kazakhstan have agreed to jointly build the Baiterek Complex, a launch facility at Baikonur, designed specifically for Russia's Angara Booster project. Construction was to be completed in 2013; however it has been postponed until 2017 due to Russian organizational and financial difficulties.
In addition to the Baikonur contract, Russia has involved Kazakh scientists in design and construction projects, and trained Kazakh astronauts for participation in the International Space Station. In June 2006, Kazakhstan launched its first satellite, KazSat, in an official ceremony with Russia's President Vladimir Putin and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev present. The KazSat, built by Russia's Khrunichev Institute, was launched on a Russian Proton booster rocket. On 8 June 2008, however, KazSat stopped broadcasting due to a malfunction of its on-board digital computing system. Attempts to restore the work of the satellite failed, and it was declared inoperative in November 2008. The second KazSat satellite, KazSat-2, is in orbit and has been operating since November 2011. KazSat-3 is under development, and expected to launch in 2014.
To further facilitate development of its space industry and technological exchange, Kazakhstan has applied to become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime. However, the MTCR has not accepted new members since the 2004 accession of Bulgaria.
Kazakhstan is working closely with Russia in air and missile defense. On 4 March 2009 Kazakhstan signed an agreement with Russia to purchase 10 batteries of S-300PS (NATO designation SA-10D "Grumble") surface-to-air (SAM) defense systems, with deliveries to take place from 2009 to 2011. In August 2008, Russia and Kazakhstan expanded cooperation by agreeing to the establishment of a joint regional air and missile defense system. The agreement calls for free-of-charge deployments of S-300PMU-1 (NATO: SA-20 "Gargoyle") SAM systems throughout Kazakhstan. The S-400 "Triumf" (NATO: SA-21 "Growler") SAM is to become the centerpiece of Russia's air defense system by 2020. The S-400 will be deployed to Kazakhstan in 2015. 
Kazakhstan is home to the Sary-Shagan missile range, Russia's primary anti-ballistic missile (ABM) testing site. Sary-Shagan is strategically located 1,600km from Kapustin Yar, Russia's primary ICBM test site, and is equipped with advanced tracking and radar equipment. Sary-Shagan is currently under lease to the Russian Ministry of Defense. A few kilometers away from Sary-Shagan, in Balkhash, is a Russian early warning missile defense radar system.
ICBM Force and Silo Dismantlement
The ICBM force deployed in Kazakhstan consisted of 104 SS-18 ICBMs tipped with 1,040 warheads, deployed at two missile bases: Zhangiz-Tobe (also known as Solnechnyy), Semipalatinsk Oblast; and Derzhavinsk, Turgay Oblast. A total of 148 silos and other structures, including 104 SS-18 launch silos, 16 launch control centers, two SS-18 training silos, and 26 other silo structures were located at four sites: Zhangiz-Tobe missile base; Derzhavinsk missile base; Leninsk test range, Kzyl-Orda Oblast; and Balapan test range, Semipalatinsk Test Site. By 25 April 1995, all 1,040 nuclear warheads associated with the SS-18 ICBMs were transferred to Russia. All 104 SS-18 ICBMs were removed to Russia for dismantlement by 5 September 1996. Destruction and dismantlement of all 148 missile silos and silo structures was carried out in a two-phase program, ending on 30 September 1999. In Phase I, the United States awarded contracts through the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) program to two Kazakh firms to remove silo equipment deemed valuable to the government of Kazakhstan. Russian strategic missile forces then destroyed silo headworks from April 1994 to August 1996 under an agreement between the governments of Kazakhstan and Russia. In Phase II, from July 1996 to September 1999, U.S. Department of Defense contractors helped Kazakhstan with clean-up and final dismantlement of the destroyed silos.
Heavy Bombers/ALCM Force
A squadron of 40 TU-95 heavy bombers equipped with X-55 [NATO Designation AS-15A 'Kent'] ALCMs, tipped with 370 warheads, was stationed at Shagan Aerodrome, Semipalatinsk Test Site. Russia removed the 40 Tu-95 bombers and ALCMs from Shagan Aerodrome in February 1994. All 370 warheads associated with the Tu-95 bombers were removed by 25 April 1995. Seven obsolete 1955-vintage bombers left behind by Russia were dismantled by August 1997 under the CTR program.
Recent Developments and Current Status
Kazakhstan continues to show no interest in pursuing a missile program, instead using its legacy missile related infrastructure and expertise to develop its space program. Kazakhstan continues to actively pursue MTCR membership as a means to ensure access to dual-use rocket technologies, and to demonstrate its commitment to nonproliferation to the international community. Currently, Kazakhstan's MTCR application remains under review.
Kazakhstan considered making the Baikonur Cosmodrome a purely commercial facility, and in 2009 imposed a ban on test launches of Russian ICBM's. However, Kazakhstan lifted this ban in October 2010 in deference to the defense needs of its Russian partner.  On 27 December 2011, Russia successfully test launched an RS-18 (NATO: SS-19 "Stiletto") ICBM. With the signing of a new Baikonur lease agreement, valid through 2050, Kazakhstan has closely aligned its space program's development with Russia for the next 38 years. Russia will continue to use Baikonur for both civilian and military purposes, while Kazakhstan will receive access to Russian technologies, training, and equipment to further develop its space program.
 "The Republic of Kazakhstan Space Activity," Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum, www.aprsaf.org.
 Decree of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan, "Strategicheski Plan Natsialnova Kosmicheski Agyenstva Respublika Kazakhstana na 2011-2015 [Strategic Plan of the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2011-2015]," National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kazcosmos.gov.kz, 17 February 2011.
 "Centers: Baikonur: Regions and Facilities," Russian Space Web, www.russianspaceweb.com.
 "Baikonur Tekhnicheskoye Opisaniye [Baikonur Technical Writings]," www.atlasaerospace.net.
 Vladimir Karnozov, "Russia and Kazakhstan extend space deal," Flight International, 20 January 2004, p. 25, www.lexis-nexis.com.
 "Baikonur Cosmodrome," NASA: Space Station Assembly, www.nasa.gov.
 "Kazakhstan's Vice PM commissioned to negotiate space launch complex with Russa." Tengri News, 29 February 2012, En.tengrinews.kz.
 Frank Mooring Jr., "KazSat-1 Launched," Aviation Week & Space Technology, 26 June 2006, p. 17, www.lexis-nexis.com
 "Kazakhstan admits losing satellite," Ria Novosti, 2 December 2008, en.rian.ru.
 "Kazakhstan admits losing satellite," Ria Novosti, 2 December 2008, en.rian.ru.
 "Khrunichev Loses KazSat-1," Satellite Today, 4 December 2008, www.lexisnexis.com.
 "Kazakhstan namyeren zapustit 'KazSat-3' v 2014 godu [Kazakhstan Intends to Launch 'KazSat-3' in 2014]," Novosti VPK, 1 January 2012, http://vpk.name.
 "Russia to deliver S-3oo air defense system to Kazakhstan," Ria Novosti, 8 December 2010, en.rian.ru.
 "Kazakhstan poluchit bezplatna do dyesati kompleksov S-300 [Kazakhstan to receive up to 10 S-300 complexes free of charge]," Vesti, 10 December 2010, Vesti.kz.
 "Kazakhstan to get first S-400 air defense system after 2015," Tengri News, 1 February 2012, En.tengrinews.kz.
 "Kazakhstan lifts ban on launches of Russian ballistic missiles," Ria Novosti, 8 November 2011, en.rian.ru.
 "Russia test launches Stiletto missile," Ria Novosti, 27 December 2011, en.rian.ru.
This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright © 2011 by MIIS.
Get the Facts on Kazakhstan
- Transferred 1,410 nuclear warheads to Russia following the Soviet collapse
- Over 10,000 kg of HEU and 3,000 kg of Pu leftover from the Soviet era remain on Kazakh territory
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