Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Russia Considers Nuclear-Armed Cruise Missiles for Submarines
Russia might modify its sea-based deterrent by deploying nonstrategic nuclear-armed cruise missiles on submarines in addition to long-range ICBMs, RIA Novosti reported yesterday (see GSN, Dec. 17, 2008).
"Probably, tactical nuclear weapons (on submarines) will play a key role in the future," said Vice Adm. Oleg Burtsev, deputy chief of the Navy General Staff. "Their range and precision are gradually increasing."
"There is no longer any need to equip missiles with powerful nuclear warheads. We can install low-yield warheads on existing cruise missiles," he added (RIA Novosti, March 23).
In reciprocal moves taken toward the end of the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to remove most tactical nuclear weapons from active service, although the United States continues to deploy hundreds of such weapons in Europe (see GSN, June 26, 2008). In 2005, Russia stated that none of its tactical nuclear weapons were deployed outside the nation's borders, and less than one year ago the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists' authoritative Nuclear Notebook said that "tactical naval nuclear weapons are not thought to be carried on board [Russian] ships and submarines under normal circumstances" (Greg Webb, Global Security Newswire, March 24).
In 2006, however, then-Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Russian submarines were operating with tactical nuclear weapons, the Associated Press reported yesterday (Associated Press/International Herald Tribune, March 23).
Burtsev also reported that Russia plans to build six Borei-class submarines to carry the new Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile (see GSN, Feb. 13).
One boat, the Yuri Dolgoruky, has begun sea trials. Two others are under construction, with one expected to be completed this year and the other in 2011 (RIA Novosti).
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