A senior Russian defense official last week said his country could only make additional cuts to its strategic or nonstrategic nuclear arsenals if conditions pose no threat to the state, ITAR-Tass reported (see GSN, Jan. 3).
"Russia is fulfilling its commitments under Article 6 of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It favors the continuation of the process of nuclear disarmament in the world, whose final goal is an all-out liquidation of nuclear weapons, with the observance of the principle of equal security for all," Col. Yuri Sych, leader of the Russian Defense Ministry's 12th Main Directorate, told ITAR-Tass on Tuesday. He was addressing a call by Washington for Moscow to eliminate a number of its nonstrategic nuclear armaments.
Article 6 of the nuclear accord states that "each of the parties to the treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."
The U.S.-Russian New START nuclear arms control pact entered into force nearly one year ago. It requires both nations by 2018 to reduce deployments of strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads and 700 delivery systems.
The Obama administration has said it wants to pursue negotiations on additional nuclear arms cuts, including tactical weapons. Moscow, meanwhile, remains opposed to existing U.S. plans for a European missile shield.
"More perceptible reductions and restrictions of nuclear weapons will be possible on condition of the careful taking into consideration of all the factors, which influence strategic stability and affect Russia's national security interests. If the destabilizing factors continue to exist in the foreseeable future, Russia will maintain its nuclear potential, both in terms of its quality and quantity, in the interests of its security," Sych said.
"So far as the reliability of the guarding of tactical nuclear weapons is concerned, the requirements to it, as well as the equipment of the facilities for stockpiling tactical nuclear weapons, are the same and are as reliable as those used for strategic nuclear weapons. We make no distinctions between them on that matter," he said.
The 12th Main Directorate is charged with protection and oversight of the Russian nuclear arsenal (ITAR-Tass I, Jan. 17).
Sych said the office "seeks to keep up with the times, so the technical systems and security methods, ways to counter any threats, including terrorism, are constantly being improved" (ITAR-Tass II, Jan. 17).
A recently released nuclear-security index ranked Russia 24th among 32 nations that possess at least 1 kilogram of nuclear-weapon material.
"The United States, Canada, and Germany, within the scope of intergovernmental agreements on technical military cooperation, allocate funds for enhancing the physical protection of Russian military nuclear facilities," Sych said. "Protective systems' construction proper is carried out by Russian companies. Domestically developed products and technologies are used in the process."
Previously planned collaborative efforts are slated to wrap up this year, the official said (ITAR-Tass III, Jan. 17).
A senior Russian defense official last week said his country could only make additional cuts to its strategic or nonstrategic nuclear arsenals if conditions pose no threat to the state, ITAR-Tass reported.