Russia might someday need to increase the size of its arsenal of nuclear weapons to counter developing dangers, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Monday (see GSN, Jan. 23).
“New challenges emerge, including missile and nuclear proliferation. Look at how unstable the situation in the Middle East is. That’s why Russia’s military doctrine envisages the use of nuclear weapons in specific cases. I do not rule out than under certain circumstances we will have to boost, not cut, our nuclear arsenal,” Antonov told the Kommersant newspaper.
Russia as of Sept. 1, 2011, had 1,566 nuclear warheads deployed on ICBMs, bombers and submarines, according to data released by the U.S. State Department.
The New START arms control accord requires Russia and the United States by 2018 to reduce their arsenals of deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery systems (see related GSN story, today).
The Obama administration's plan for missile defense in Europe is among the dangers to Russia, Antonov said. Washington has sought to persuade Moscow to join the U.S.-NATO effort, but significant disagreements persist after more than a year of talks (see related GSN story, today). Chief among them is the Kremlin's demand for a legally binding pledge that the system would not target Russian nuclear forces. Brussels and Washington say the system is aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from the Middle East, but have rejected calls for a binding agreement.
Antonov renewed the Russian threat to withdraw from the New START pact if the missile shield dispute continues.
"This is one of possible variants of our retaliation measures. We have warned about it beforehand," he said (RIA Novosti I, Feb. 6).
Meanwhile, Russia intends to maintain the current duty life of third-generation strategic nuclear submarines longer than planned, RIA Novosti reported on Thursday.
“The most successful projects will undergo two repairs instead of one. The subs' period of service will be extended to 30-35 years instead of the current 25,” according to Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin.
Extending the vessels' operational life will serve to cover Russia's strategic needs until its full fleet of eight Borei-class submarines is put to sea by 2020, Rogozin said (RIA Novosti II, Feb. 2).
“On June 1 or a bit later we will resume constant patrolling of the world’s oceans by strategic nuclear submarines,” Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky, head of the Russian navy, said on Friday.
There are now 12 Russian strategic submarines in service that are powered by atomic energy, RIA Novosti reported (RIA Novosti III, Feb. 4).
Russia might someday need to increase the size of its arsenal of nuclear weapons to counter developing dangers, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Monday.