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– Maura Davenport
Member
December 12, 2017
Russia

Russian Chemical Weapons Use Draws More Sanctions

Russian Chemical Weapons Use Draws More Sanctions


U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin as they gather with other leaders for a November 11 ceremony in Paris marking the 100th anniversary of the 1918 armistice that ended World War I.   (Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP/Getty Images)The United States confirmed on Nov. 6 that it will impose a second, more severe round of sanctions on Russia for its use of chemical weapons in the United Kingdom. To avoid the additional sanctions under the Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act, Russia had to provide reliable assurances that it is no longer using chemical weapons, will not do so in the future, and will allow international inspectors to verify its assurances. Russia continues to deny that it used or possesses chemical weapons. Robert Palladino, a State Department spokesman, said on Nov. 7 that the U.S. administration was considering implementation plans. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), outgoing chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a statement pressed for action, stating that “hesitation only encourages more Russian aggression.”

U.S. options for additional sanctions include banning multilateral development bank assistance or U.S. bank loans except loans for food or agricultural commodities, imposing additional export prohibitions or import restrictions, suspending diplomatic relations, and terminating air carrier landing rights. After an Aug. 6 U.S. determination that Russia had used a nerve agent in an attack against a former spy in the UK, the first round of sanctions took effect Aug. 27 and included a ban on U.S. exports to Russia related to national security, such as gas turbine engines, electronics, integrated circuits, and testing and calibration equipment that were previously allowed on a case-by-case basis. (See ACT, September 2018).—ALICIA SANDERS-ZAKRE

Getting Off the Treadmill to Catastrophe

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “[t]he Cold War is back...but with a difference. The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present.”


December 2018
By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that “[t]he Cold War is back...but with a difference. The mechanisms and the safeguards to manage the risks of escalation that existed in the past no longer seem to be present.”

Russian Topol-M ICBM crosses Red Square in Moscow during a Victory Day parade on May 9, 2008.  (Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)Indeed, the United States and Russia are planning to spend trillions of dollars to replace and upgrade their nuclear arsenals at force levels that far exceed what is required to deter nuclear attack. China is also improving its nuclear weapons capabilities.

All three countries are pursuing new strategic-range weapons systems, including hypersonic missiles, and the weaponization of other emerging technologies, such as cyberweapons, that could upset the uneasy balance of nuclear terror that exists among the world’s major nuclear actors.

Meanwhile, U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control agreements designed to reduce nuclear risks, including the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), are in serious jeopardy. Currently, there is no bilateral dialogue on strategic stability to help avoid misperception and worst-case assumptions.

President Donald Trump, unfortunately, seems to believe that if he builds up the U.S. nuclear arsenal, other nations will back down. “Until people come to their senses, we will build it up,” Trump said to reporters Oct. 22 outside the White House. His simplistic notion of getting ahead in the nuclear game is a dangerous illusion.

In a nuclear arms race, the only finish line is catastrophe. As the veteran U.S. diplomat Paul Warnke wrote in 1975 as the United States and the Soviet Union were amassing new strategic nuclear weapons, “We can be first off the treadmill. That is the only victory the arms race has to offer.”

As Democrats prepare to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives in January, there is an opportunity to check and balance Trump’s nuclear impulses. Members of Congress of both parties, along with key U.S. allies and middle powers, should encourage the United States to get off the treadmill and take the first steps to reduce the role, size, and cost of its bloated nuclear arsenal.

Rather than ape Russia’s nuclear behavior, the United States should size and orient its nuclear force on the basis of its defense requirements alone. In 2013, a Pentagon review determined that the U.S. deployed strategic nuclear force is one-third larger than necessary to deter a nuclear attack. That means the United States can reduce the number of deployed strategic warheads from roughly 1,400 today to 1,000 or fewer and challenge Russia to do the same.

A thousand deployed warheads provide far more nuclear firepower than is needed to deter any current or potential nuclear adversary. Just one U.S. nuclear-armed submarine, carrying 192 thermonuclear warheads, each with an explosive yield of 100 kilotons or greater, could devastate a large country and kill tens of millions of people.

To lock in mutual reductions, Washington and Moscow should agree to extend New START for another five years, to 2026, and call for talks on a new agreement on new limits on all types of strategic offensive and defensive, nuclear and non-nuclear weapons systems that could affect strategic stability. Such a strategy could prompt Russia to rethink its own new weapons projects and possibly reduce its nuclear arsenal.

Further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, which comprise 95 percent of global stockpiles, would increase pressure on China to halt its own slow but steady nuclear buildup and join the nuclear disarmament enterprise.

By scaling back its nuclear force to 1,000 deployed strategic warheads and making associated reductions to the hedge stockpile, the United States could trim billions of dollars from today’s excessive and unsustainable $1.2 trillion, 30-year plan to replace and upgrade its nuclear weapons delivery systems and warheads.

U.S. policymakers also need to shift away from outdated policies that increase the risk of nuclear war by accident or design. Current U.S. and Russian strategies call for the prompt launch of land-based missiles in the event of an impending nuclear attack. Each side also retains the option to use nuclear weapons first in a conflict. Worse still, the Trump administration wants new, “more-usable” low-yield nuclear weapons to counter Russia and has expanded the circumstances under which the United States would consider first use.

Instead, as Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, recommends, the United States should adopt a no-first-use nuclear policy, forgo new nuclear war-fighting weapons, and shed excessive nuclear force structure. There is no plausible circumstance that could justify legally, morally, or militarily the use of nuclear weapons to deal with a non-nuclear threat. Once nuclear weapons are employed in war, there is no guarantee the other side would not respond in kind and trigger an all-out nuclear exchange.

It is still within the power of U.S. and other world leaders to avoid a new global nuclear arms race, save billions of defense dollars on redundant and unnecessary nuclear weapons, and reduce the risk of nuclear use. The time to start is now.

 

What Can the EU Do to Reduce the Nuclear Threat?

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Remarks by Greg Thielmann for the Polis 180 Fireside Chat: Powerless Europe? The Future of Nuclear Weapons Policy in Europe, Berlin, Germany

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Remarks by Greg Thielmann
Polis 180 Fireside Chat
Powerless Europe? The Future of Nuclear Weapons Policy in Europe
Berlin, Germany
November 28, 2018

Toward the end of October, President Donald Trump announced at a political rally that the United States would be withdrawing from the 31-year old Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (“INF”) Treaty, which had banned an entire category of ground-based missiles from the U.S. and Russian arsenals. There has since been considerable discussion about what this decision portends for the entire nuclear arms control enterprise. I cannot presume to know how Germany and other European states can best protect their national security interests. But I can offer some thoughts on how Europe can help America cope with the Trump phenomenon, which I see as America’s greatest leadership crisis in my lifetime.

My first job as a diplomat in the Department of State was to help implement the 1979 “Dual-Track” decision of NATO (der Doppelbeschluss)–according to which NATO planned to deploy 572 nuclear-tipped missiles in Europe while seeking to negotiate equal but lower limits on the 600 Soviet theater missiles already deployed against NATO. The government of Chancellor Helmut Schmidt played a critical role in pushing for such action. He worried that the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Limitation Talks process had left Europe vulnerable to a growing force of Mittelstrecken Raketen for which it had no comparable counter. Indeed, the SS-20s being deployed were more mobile, longer-range, less vulnerable, and more accurate than the SS-4 and SS-5 missiles they were replacing. Moreover, they would carry three times as many warheads.

The only U.S. nuclear weapons based in Europe which could reach Soviet territory then were carried by medium-range bombers, themselves increasingly vulnerable to Soviet anti-aircraft weapons. And thus, the scene was set for a highly-charged contest of wills between the Soviet Union, the United States, and the five NATO countries that had agreed to station new INF missiles on their territories. Germany would have the largest and most critical contingent, including 108 very accurate and fast Pershing II ballistic missiles.

I was present in Geneva at the opening of the negotiations 37 years ago this Friday. I was also present for three years in Embassy Bonn’s Political Section, when the first U.S. deployments arrived in 1983–the “Year of the missile”–and when the Soviet negotiators walked out of the Geneva negotiations.

But with the coming to power of Mikhael Gorbachev in 1985, the mood changed and negotiations resumed the next year. By the end of 1987, the Soviet leader and Ronald Reagan had signed a “zero-zero” treaty with an even lower range floor on banned missiles than the parties had first discussed. Within three years of the treaty entering into force, nearly 2,700 missiles had been eliminated.

This saga is worth recalling–partly to appreciate how unlikely such an outcome seemed in 1979 and how much the treaty ultimately contributed to the reductions of Cold War tensions. It is also important to realize how important the treaty’s verification provisions were for establishing precedents applied to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, which followed in 1991. And to remember the creative and hard-working personnel on both sides, who conscientiously fulfilled the treaty obligations.

During the last decade, there have been voices raised in both Moscow and Washington, arguing that the treaty had outlived its usefulness in a post-Cold War world where the European situation was fundamentally different and a world where third countries were increasing their arsenals of intermediate-range missiles.

In 2014, the United States officially accused Russia of testing a cruise missile with a range in excess of that allowed by the treaty. Russia, in turn, levied three charges against the United States, the most serious being that the U.S. missile defense launchers being deployed in Romania were prohibited because they were capable of launching cruise missiles banned under the treaty.

These compliance concerns have now been subject to confidential discussions between the United States and Russia for five years without resolution. Although Trump’s announcement that the United States intended to withdraw from the INF Treaty appeared to be the beginning of the end, it was not the first step taken in that direction. Moscow appears to have decided a decade ago to ignore the treaty’s range limits on cruise missiles. Last year’s U.S. defense budget included research and development funding for new ground-based missiles, which would eventually violate the treaty when they are first flight-tested.

It is my contention, and the view of the U.S.-Russian-German “Deep Cuts Commission” (of which I’m a member) that neither side has made sufficient efforts to use the treaty’s verification mechanism to address this problem.

There is still time. The treaty requires six months notice before withdrawal can occur, and that notice has still not been officially provided.

Ironically, the U.S. revelation in public last year of the Russian manufacturer and designator of the offending missile has opened up a path to resolution, which has not yet been explored. After years of Moscow saying it did not know what the United States was talking about, it now acknowledges having developed and deployed the missile in question–the Novator 9M729—but says the United States is wrong about its capabilities. There is now a curious parallelism in the U.S. response to Russia’s complaints about the missile defense launchers in Romania and Poland. Washington contends that the Aegis Ashore Mk 41 launchers are not capable of doing what the Mk 41 launchers at sea can do.

The argument is now ripe for an invitation to experts for mutual on-site inspection and technical discussions to examine the capabilities of the systems in dispute. Yet neither side has made such a proposal! Here is where Germany and its fellow NATO members can play a constructive role. Russia’s 9M729 cruise missiles threaten the territory of NATO’s European members. The U.S. missile defense deployments in Eastern Europe have been endorsed by NATO. The alliance should press hard for Washington and Moscow to get serious about resolving this issue by conducting mutual inspections and taking necessary confidence-building steps. The onus for the dissolution of the treaty should fall heavily on the side, which refuses this obvious path on INF and fails to pursue the rejuvenation of talks on strategic arms control.

Germany can buttress its diplomatic initiatives on this and other nuclear issues by fulfilling its commitment to increase its defense budget. Russia takes seriously NATO’s policy of regarding an attack on any member as an attack on all members. The best way to increase the credibility of NATO’s mutual defense commitment is for Germany to strengthen its conventional defenses, continue hosting the deployment of U.S. troops, and participating in the modest but important defense measures in the Baltic states.

I hope Germany will remember that Trump became president through our peculiar electoral college system, which awarded him the job after losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million. Although our system may be flawed, it does self-correct, and that slow process has begun. America is, at long last, rising to the challenge that Trump poses to our institutions and our friends in the world. Our press is vibrant; our courts remain independent; and the mid-term elections have just returned control of the U.S. House of Representatives to the opposition party; even the executive branch agencies have just delivered a stinging rebuke to the administration’s shameful denial of climate change science.

I especially want to highlight the significance of the Democratic Party winning control over the House of Representatives. Defense funding must pass the Senate and the House to become law. Democratic Party leaders have been opposed to Trump’s plan to introduce new nuclear weapons and they advocate a “no-first-use” policy for the U.S. deterrent.

There will be tensions as Germany looks after its obligations and pursues its national interests. But Americans need to remember what close friends do to protect each other from folly. My model is the refusal of Germany to join the United States and Britain in their disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003. Our long-term interests were betrayed by London; not by Berlin. Likewise, when the United States violated its commitments under the 7-party Iran Nuclear Deal, Germany, Britain, and France are trying to honor theirs. A focus on our mutual long-term interests is important for the difficult days ahead.

 

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Statement of the Deep Cuts Commission on the INF Treaty Crisis and the Way Forward

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U.S., European, and Russian Nuclear Experts & Former Officials Issue Statement on the INF Treaty Crisis and the Way Forward

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For Immediate Release: November 19, 2018

Media Contacts: Daryl Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy, (202) 463-8270 ext. 104.

(Washington, Hamburg, Moscow)—In the wake of President Donald Trump’s recent announcement to “terminate” the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in response to Russian violations of the agreement, an international group consisting of high-level experts and former officials is warning of the dangers of the collapse of the treaty and urging a diplomatic resolution to the dispute.
 
Echoing the concerns of many European allies, the statement, which was published on November 16 ahead of a planned meeting between President Donald Trump and President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Argentina later this month, notes that “[t]he repercussions of a collapse of the INF treaty would be tremendous: it could trigger a new arms race, significantly increase the risk of nuclear escalation, [and] further undermine political relations between the United States, Russia and Europe.”
 
The statement was organized by the members of a 21-member German-Russian-U.S. Deep Cuts Commission, which was established in 2013 to develop proposals to overcome obstacles to sensible arms control agreements and further reductions in U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles.
 
Trump’s plan to withdraw from the INF Treaty has raised concerns about exacerbating military and political tensions with Russia and the future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The statement notes that without either of these treaties, there would be no legally-binding, verifiable limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals, or anywhere else in the world.
 
The signers of the statement urge the two nations to ”exhaust all cooperative options to solve the INF Treaty crisis instead of scrapping the treaty.”
 
Furthermore, the signers recommend that at the planned meeting between Trump and Putin, the two leaders should:

  • acknowledge the other side’s INF concerns and direct their experts to find a solution that resolves compliance concerns;
  • agree to relaunch immediately a genuine and regular dialogue on strategic stability; and
  • commit to begin talks on the extension of New START by a period of five years, as provided for in Article XIV of the treaty. 

The full statement is available here.
 
The statement echoes similar warnings from other leading American and European experts and former officials about the dangers of terminating the INF Treaty and the need for a diplomatic solution to resolve U.S. and Russian concerns.

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Trump to Withdraw U.S. From INF Treaty

Trump cites Russian cheating while international allies and rivals decry his action.


November 2018
By Kingston Reif

President Donald Trump announced in October that he plans to “terminate” the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, raising concerns about the return of Cold War-style tensions over U.S. and Russian deployments of intermediate-range missiles in Europe and elsewhere and the future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START).

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with John Bolton, U.S. national security adviser, at the Kremlin on October 23. (Photo: Maxim Shipenkov/AFP/Getty Images )Trump’s sudden decision follows a years-long U.S.-Russian dispute about whether Moscow has developed and deployed a prohibited missile, known by its apparent Russian designation 9M729, and comes amid fears expressed by some government officials and defense policy experts that China, which is not a party to the INF Treaty, is gaining a military advantage in East Asia by deploying large numbers of treaty-noncompliant missiles.

Still, critics of Trump’s withdrawal plan argue that it recklessly removes all constraints on the deployment of Russia’s illegal missiles, lets Russia off the hook for its violation, and goes against the wishes of allies in Europe and elsewhere who want to preserve the treaty. They also claim that the administration has not exhausted all diplomatic, economic, and military options to pressure Russia to return to compliance and that the military can counter China by continuing to field air- and sea-launched cruise missiles that do not violate the accord.

The president’s decision to withdraw from the treaty appears to have come together quickly and demonstrates the strong influence of his national security adviser, John Bolton, a forceful, longtime critic of the INF Treaty and New START.

“Russia has violated the agreement; they have been violating it for many years,” Trump said after a Oct. 20 campaign rally in Elko, Nevada. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”

“We’ll have to develop those weapons,” Trump said, referring to the intermediate-range missiles prohibited by the treaty, “unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say, ‘Let’s really get smart, and let’s none of us develop those weapons.’”

“[B]ut if Russia’s doing it and if China’s doing it and we’re adhering to the agreement, that’s unacceptable,” he added.

The INF Treaty required Russia and the United States to eliminate permanently their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers.

Since 2014, Washington has accused Moscow of violating its commitment “not to possess, produce, or flight-test” a ground-launched cruise missile (GLCM) having a range prohibited under the INF Treaty. The Trump administration later identified the missile as the 9M729. In 2017, the Pentagon alleged that Russia began fielding the missile.

Moscow has denied both charges and accused the United States of violating the treaty, most notably by deploying missile defense interceptor platforms in eastern Europe that Russia claims could be used for offensive purposes. Diplomatic efforts to resolve the compliance dispute have been limited and unsuccessful.

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that the U.S. plan to withdraw from the treaty could lead to a new arms race and said that any nation that hosts U.S. intermediate-range missiles will “put their own territory under the threat of a possible counterstrike.”

Yet, some Russian officials were less harsh in their criticism. After a meeting Oct. 22 between Bolton and his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, the Russian Security Council issued a statement expressing “its readiness for the joint work aimed at eliminating mutual grievances relating to the implementation of this treaty.”

Trump’s announcement pitted him, once again, against an array of international friends and rivals. The Chinese Foreign Ministry said that Beijing opposes a U.S. withdrawal from the treaty.

U.S. allies in Europe and Asia also criticized the decision. The European Union declared in a statement that the United States should “consider the consequences of its possible withdrawal from the INF [Treaty] on its own security, on the security of its allies and of the whole world.”

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that “ending the treaty would have many negative consequences.” Likewise, Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese chief cabinet secretary, called a U.S. withdrawal “undesirable.”

Soviet inspectors and their U.S. escorts stand among Pershing II missiles dismantled in accordance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in January 1989. (Photo: U.S. Defense Department)Trump’s withdrawal plan is proving controversial in Congress, drawing a glimmer of bipartisan criticism. In an Oct. 24 letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Reps. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the ranking members on the House armed services and foreign affairs committees, respectively, said a U.S. withdrawal from the treaty “would risk an arms race, would jeopardize the security of our allies in Europe and Asia, and would significantly undermine U.S. leadership on arms control.”

Some Republican lawmakers also expressed opposition. “I hope we’re not moving down the path to undo much of the nuclear arms control treaties that we have put in place,” retiring Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said on Oct. 21. “I think that would be a huge mistake.”

Other Republicans backed Trump, including his new close ally Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), who said withdrawal is “absolutely the right move” because “the Russians have been cheating.”

Lawmakers cannot prevent the president from withdrawing from the agreement, but they could withhold funding to develop new land-based intermediate-range missiles.

The Republican-controlled Congress in September approved the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2019 budget request of $48 million for research and development on and concepts and options for conventional ground-launched, intermediate-range missile systems in response to Russia’s alleged violation of the treaty.

But the opposition of Democratic lawmakers to withdrawing from the treaty could lead to debate over whether to continue to fund such research if Democrats retake either chamber in the November midterm elections.

Even if the United States were to develop the weapons, they would need to be deployed on the territory of allies neighboring Russia and China. So far, no country has said that it would be willing to host such missiles.

Last December, before Bolton joined the administration, the State Department announced an integrated diplomatic, economic, and military strategy designed to pressure Russia to return to compliance with the INF Treaty. (See ACT, December 2017.) But it is not clear what parts of the strategy have been executed and whether the administration presented Russia with a diplomatic proposal to resolve the compliance stalemate.

When asked at an Oct. 23 press conference in Moscow following meetings with Putin and other top Russian officials whether there were options to preserve the treaty, Bolton said that “the treaty was outmoded, being violated, and being ignored by other countries.” He likened the decision to the George W. Bush administration’s decision in 2002 to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.

Bolton said the United States will deliver to Russia “in due course” a formal withdrawal notification. Once that is done, the treaty requires the United States to wait six months before it can actually leave the agreement.

In the likely event that the INF Treaty collapses, the only remaining U.S.-Russian arms control agreement would be New START, which expires in 2021 but can be extended by up to five years through agreement by both parties.

Bolton, while in Moscow, reiterated that the United States does not yet have a position on whether it favors extending the agreement. (See ACT, September 2018.) If New START is allowed to expire without a replacement, there will be no legally binding limits on the world’s two largest strategic arsenals for the first time since 1972.

Russia Charged With OPCW Hacking Attempt

Russia has denounced international agreement to empower watchdog to attribute blame for chemical weapons use.


November 2018
By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The European Union established a new mechanism for chemical weapons sanctions, days after several countries blamed Russian intelligence operatives for attempting to hack computers at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

Four Russian intelligence agents were caught in April as they allegedly tried to hack into the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons using equipment in a car parked adjacent to the OPCW headquarters in The Hague. (Photo: OPCW)The sanctions framework approved by EU foreign ministers last month reflects an effort by the Europeans to bolster international norms against chemical weapons use at a time when the legal prohibition established by the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) has been violated by Russia and Syria, both states-parties to the accord.

Russian efforts to compromise independent investigations into its own chemical weapons use and that of Syria will be a key issue when CWC states-parties gather for the treaty’s fourth review conference in November. Russia has denounced an agreement to strengthen the OPCW’s ability to investigate and attribute blame for chemical weapons use, and Western governments say Moscow has sought to interfere with the work of the OPCW.

The Dutch Defense Ministry announced on Oct. 4 that, in April, it had disrupted an attempted Russian cyberattack on the chemical weapons watchdog agency. Dutch authorities stated that four agents from Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency were spotted in a car filled with electronic equipment “installed for the purpose of infiltrating the OPCW’s network” parked adjacent to OPCW headquarters in The Hague. The Russian agents were detained and then expelled.

“Our exposure of this Russian operation is intended as an unambiguous message that the Russian Federation must refrain from such actions,” said Dutch Defense Minister Ank Bijleveld on Oct. 10.

At the time of the attempted breach, the OPCW was investigating a chemical weapons attack against former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, United Kingdom, which the United Kingdom and other countries have accused Moscow of carrying out with use of the Russian nerve agent Novichok. (See ACT, April 2018.)

The UK seconded Dutch allegations of Russian efforts to hack into the OPCW and published additional accusations of attempted GRU cyberattacks to disrupt investigations of chemical weapons use.

The UK National Security Centre in an Oct. 4 statement identified a number of pseudonyms that GRU personnel used in cyberattacks around the world. Additional attempted Russian attacks included a so-called spear-phishing attack in March aimed at compromising UK Foreign and Commonwealth Offices and a similar May effort in which GRU agents impersonated Swiss federal authorities to target OPCW officials. Spear phishing refers to using deceptive emails that seem to be from a known or trusted sender in order to gain access to a computer or network.

“The GRU’s actions are reckless and indiscriminate,” UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Oct. 4. “This pattern of behavior demonstrates their desire to operate without regard to international law or established norms and to do so with a feeling of impunity and without consequences.”

Russia rejected the allegations, continuing a pattern of denial of chemical weapons use or possession.

“We are watching with regret how the U.S. authorities continue to poison the atmosphere of Russian-American relations by bringing ever new groundless accusations against Russia, which certain other NATO countries would hurry to repeat at the command from Washington,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov wrote on Oct. 4. “Russia is used to these U.S. methods but the purposeful fomenting of tensions in relations between nuclear powers and internationally is a dangerous path.”

The Europeans and the United States hastened to punish Russia for its alleged cybercrimes and chemical weapons use. On Oct. 4, a federal grand jury in Pennsylvania charged seven GRU agents with planning cyberattacks against various entities including the OPCW and the Spiez Swiss Chemical Laboratory, an OPCW-affiliated laboratory, which was analyzing Novichok agent, as well as U.S. and international anti-doping agencies and sports federations.

On Oct. 15, a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg adopted a new regime of restrictive measures against those who use or develop chemical weapons or those who assist to do so, regardless of nationality. The sanctions include a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze, according to an Oct. 15 press release.

No individuals have been sanctioned under the new mechanism, although the two GRU individuals identified by the UK as responsible for the UK poisonings in Salisbury and nearby Amesbury will likely be considered.

Members of the OPCW Executive Council, who met shortly after the announcement about the attempted Russian hack into the chemical weapons watchdog, and all CWC states-parties, who are scheduled to meet at the Nov. 21–30 CWC review conference, face pressure to find measures to counter the erosion of the norm against chemical weapons use and attempted Russian meddling into international investigations.

At the Oct. 9–12 OPCW Executive Council meeting, Canada, the Netherlands, and the United States proposed adding Novichok to the list of chemicals specifically prohibited by name by the CWC.

Several states also expressed support for OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias to create a new OPCW attribution mechanism approved at the June special session of CWC states-parties, which would investigate and assign blame for chemical weapons attacks. (See ACT, July/August 2018.)

Russia, in a statement by the foreign ministry, denounced the decision to provide the OPCW with the attribution authority, calling it the result of “political manipulations, direct bribery of a number of delegations, and blatant blackmail.” The June 28 statement said the action was outside the limited authority established by the CWC and “jeopardizes the integrity of the CWC.”

The previous attribution mechanism for chemical weapons attacks in Syria, the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism, was forced to shut down after Russia vetoed its continued operation at the UN Security Council. (See ACT, December 2017.) Subsequent attempts at the UN Security Council to restart attribution investigations were also blocked by Russia.

“The upcoming review conference provides an opportunity to reflect on the last five years of the work of this organization and set direction for the next five years,” Peter Wilson, UK ambassador to the Netherlands, said at the OPCW Executive Council meeting. “We must face up to the reality that our hard-won gains against the scourge of chemical weapons are being challenged like never before. We must stand together against chemical weapons use, and we must ensure that the OPCW and our new director-general have the tools they need to face the next five years.”

 

INF Termination Is Bad, but It Could Get Worse

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump told reporters that he wanted to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.” He characterized the costly nuclear weapons upgrade programs being pursued by each side as “a very, very bad policy.”


November 2018
By Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump told reporters that he wanted to work with Russian President Vladimir Putin “to discuss the arms race, which is getting out of control.” He characterized the costly nuclear weapons upgrade programs being pursued by each side as “a very, very bad policy.”

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin conclude a joint press conference following their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on July 16. (Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP/Getty Images)But now, under the influence of his national security adviser, John Bolton, Trump has announced he will “terminate” a key nuclear arms control agreement that helped end the Cold War arms race—the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The decision is an unnecessary and self-defeating wrong turn that could lead to an unconstrained and dangerous nuclear arms competition with Russia.

The Reagan-era INF Treaty banned an entire class of destabilizing U.S. and Russian nuclear weapons that were deployed in Europe. The treaty led to the verified destruction of 2,692 nuclear-armed U.S. and Russian missiles.

The treaty has been at risk since 2014, when Washington publicly charged that Moscow twice had tested a ground-launched missile having a range beyond the 500-kilometer limit set by the treaty. In 2017 the Pentagon said Russia had deployed a small number of these missiles, which the State Department identified in January 2018 as the 9M729.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the compliance issue have been limited and unsuccessful. Russian officials deny the U.S. charges and point to their own concerns that the U.S. missile interceptor launchers deployed in Romania might be used to deliver offensive missiles.

Since Trump took office, U.S. and Russian officials have met only twice to try to resolve the dispute. Neither side appears to have seriously pursued the option of reciprocal transparency measures or the option of modifying or removing the Russian missiles of concern to bring Russia back into compliance.

Trump claims that the United States is pulling out to show Russia that he will not tolerate its alleged violation of the treaty, but U.S. withdrawal does nothing to bring Russia back into compliance, and it distracts from Russian actions that precipitated the INF Treaty crisis.

Worse yet, U.S. withdrawal opens the door for Russia to produce and deploy the missile of concern in greater numbers without any constraints. This threatens to renew Cold War-style tensions over deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe and elsewhere. The last time that happened, in 1983, millions of Europeans marched in the streets in protest.

Even without the INF Treaty in force, Congress and NATO should reject Trump’s call for a new U.S. ground-launched, INF-range missile in Europe or elsewhere and instead focus on maintaining U.S. and European conventional military preparedness. The United States can already deploy air- and sea-launched systems that can threaten Russian targets and hold at risk targets in China.

Trump’s INF Treaty decision is a debacle, but things could get even worse. If the treaty collapses, as appears likely, the only remaining agreement regulating the world’s two largest nuclear stockpiles will be the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). That 2010 treaty, which limits the two sides’ long-range missiles and bombers and caps the warheads they carry to no more than 1,550 each, is due to expire in 2021 unless Trump and Putin agree to extend it by a period of up to five years, as allowed for in the accord’s Article XIV.

Key Republican and Democratic senators and U.S. NATO allies are on record in support of the treaty’s extension, which can be accomplished without further Senate or Duma approval.

Unfortunately, Bolton may try to sabotage that treaty too. Since he arrived at the White House in April, he has been slow-rolling an interagency review on whether to extend New START and refusing to take up Putin’s offer to begin extension talks.

Extension talks should begin now, in order to resolve outstanding implementation concerns that could hold up the treaty’s extension. Instead, Bolton is talking about an approach that would dispense with New START and its rigorous inspection system for warheads and missiles to ensure compliance.

Bolton’s alternative would simply set limits on deployed warheads only and without any verification, an approach Moscow is very unlikely to accept because it could give the United States a significant breakout advantage.

Without New START, there would be no legally binding limits on the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals for the first time since 1972. Both countries would be in violation of their Article VI nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligation 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....”

It is now all the more important to get a serious U.S.-Russian arms control dialogue back on track. If not, an even more dangerous phase in U.S.-Russian relations is just over the horizon.

Trump’s Counterproductive Decision to “Terminate” the INF Treaty

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Description: 

Under the influence of his new National Security Advisor, John Bolton, Trump announced Saturday at a campaign rally that he will “terminate” a key nuclear arms control agreement that helped end the Cold War race–the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in response to a long-running dispute over Russian noncompliance with the treaty. Here's why that's counterproductive.

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Volume 10, Issue 9, October 21, 2018

Under the influence of his new National Security Advisor, John Bolton, Trump announced Saturday at a campaign rally that he will “terminate” a key nuclear arms control agreement that helped end the Cold War race–the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in response to a long-running dispute over Russian noncompliance with the treaty. 
 
The decision represents a shift in the administration’s INF response strategy  which was announced in January and before Bolton joined the administration.
 
Trump’s move to blow-up the INF Treaty is unnecessary and self-defeating wrong turn that could lead to an unconstrained and dangerous nuclear arms competition with Russia.
 
The breakdown of the agreement and uncertain future of the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reductions Treaty (New START) creates the most serious nuclear arms control crisis in decades.
 
The Russian Foreign Ministry said today that the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty is “unacceptable” and “dangerous.” Russia continues to assert that there is no basis for the U.S. claim that Russia has violated the treaty, but the Russian Foreign Ministry said “there is still room for dialogue."
 
Bolton meets Monday in Moscow with President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov.
 
The INF Treaty Still Matters 

The INF Treaty, which was negotiated by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, required the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 km (300 to 3,500 miles).
 
The treaty successfully eliminated an entire class of destabilizing nuclear weapons that were deployed in Europe and helped bring an end to the spiraling Cold War arms race. It has been a cornerstone of the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control architecture. And as NATO defense ministers said earlier this month, the INF Treaty “has been crucial to Euro-Atlantic security.”
 
Without the INF Treaty, we will likely see the return of Cold War-style tensions over U.S. and Russian deployments of intermediate-range missiles in Europe and elsewhere.  

Russian Noncompliance

The INF Treaty, while very successful, has been at risk for some time. In 2014, Washington charged that Moscow had tested a weapon, which it later identified as the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile, at a range beyond the limit set by the treaty. In 2017, the Pentagon declared that Moscow had begun deploying the weapon. 

Russia denies that it has violated the treaty and asked the United States to divulge the technical details behind the charge. Moscow has expressed its own concerns about U.S. compliance with the pact, notably that U.S. missile defense interceptor platforms deployed in eastern Europe could be used for offense purposes that would violate the treaty.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue have been limited and to date unsuccessful. Since Trump took office, U.S. and Russian officials have met only twice to try to resolve the compliance dispute. 

Clearly, neither side has exhausted the diplomatic options that could resolve their concerns. 

U.S. Withdrawal Would Be An “Own Goal.” 

Trump claims that the United States is pulling out to show Russia that it will not tolerate Russia’s alleged violation of the treaty. “We’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and do weapons and we’re not allowed to,” Trump said. 

Trump may want to sound tough, but the reality is that withdrawing from the treaty weakens U.S. and allied security and does not provide the United States any military advantage in Europe or elsewhere.

  • U.S. withdrawal does nothing to bring Russia back into compliance with the INF Treaty and it distracts from the fact that it was Russia’s actions that precipitated the INF Treaty crisis. 
  • U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty opens the door for Russia to produce and deploy the missile of concern, the 9M729, in greater numbers without any constraints.
  • There is no military need for the United States to develop, as Trump has proposed, a new and costly INF Treaty-noncompliant missile. The United States can already deploy air- and sea-launched systems that can threaten the same Russian targets that ground-launched missiles that are prohibited by INF Treaty would. 
  • NATO does not support a new INF Treaty-range missile in Europe and no country has offered to host it. Attempting to force the alliance to accept a new, potentially nuclear missile would divide the alliance in ways that would delight the Kremlin.

Even without the INF Treaty in force, the U.S. Congress and NATO governments should reject Trump’s push to develop a new U.S. ground-based INF Treaty-range missile in Europe (or elsewhere), and instead focus on maintaining conventional military preparedness to deter adversaries without violating the treaty.

Does the United States Need Ground-launched, INF Treaty-Range Missiles to Counter China?

No. In 2011, long before any Russian INF compliance concerns surfaced, John Bolton proposed in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that Washington should to withdraw from the treaty in order to counter China, which is not party to the treaty. In his Oct. 20 remarks on withdrawing from the treaty, Trump also pointed to China as a reason for abandoning the INF Treaty.

When asked at a congressional hearing in July 2017 about whether withdrawal from the INF Treaty could be useful because it would allow the U.S. to develop new ground-based systems to hit targets in China, vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva said that such a move was unnecessary because the United States can already hold those targets at risk with treaty-compliant air- and sea-based assets.

In his remarks Saturday, Trump suggested he might support a ban on INF Treaty-range missiles if "Russia comes to us and China comes to us” ... "and let’s none of us develop those weapons.” Russia did approach the United States in 2007 and jointly proposed in a UN General Assembly resolution multilateralizing the INF Treaty. The idea of “multilateralizing INF has been around for more than a decade, but neither Russia nor Washington have devoted serious effort into the concept and China is highly unlikely to join an agreement that would eliminate the bulk of its missile arsenal.

Trump’s INF Treaty decision is a debacle. But without New START it will be even worse 

If the INF Treaty collapses, as appears likely, the only remaining treaty regulating the world’s two largest nuclear stockpiles will be New START. New START is due to expire in 2021 unless Trump and Putin agree to extend it by five years as allowed for in Article XIV of the agreement.

Unfortunately, Bolton may try to sabotage that treaty too. Since he arrived at the White House in May, he has been slow-rolling an interagency review on whether to extend New START and refusing to take up Putin’s offer to begin talks on its extension. 

Key Republican and Democratic Senators are on record in support of New START extension, which can be accomplished without further Senate or Duma approval.

Instead, one option Bolton is talking about is a “Moscow Treaty" approach that would dispense with New START and its rigorous inspection system on warheads and missiles to ensure compliance. This option would simply set limits on deployed warheads only and without any verification—an approach Moscow is very unlikely to accept because it could give the United States a significant breakout advantage.

The current crisis makes it all the more important to get a serious U.S.-Russian arms control dialogue back on track. 

Trump and Putin should agree to relaunch their stalled strategic stability dialogue and commit to reaching an early agreement to extend New START by five years to 2026 – which is essential if the two sides are to meet their legal commitment under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty "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 …."

If they fail to extend New START, an even more dangerous phase in U.S.-Russian relations is just over the horizon.—DARYL G. KIMBALL, executive director, and KINGSTON REIF, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy

Country Resources:

Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces Under New START

April 2019

Contact: Kingston Reif, Director for Disarmament and Threat Reduction Policy, 202-463-8270 x104

Updated: April 2019

On April 8, 2010, Russia and the United States signed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START). The treaty requires both sides to limit the number of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550 and fielded delivery platforms to 700. The treaty also permits the United States and Russia to conduct 18 annual on-site inspections of facilities operated by the other country. Biannual data exchanges indicate the current state of their strategic forces.

As of March 2019, Russia had 524 deployed strategic delivery systems and 1,461 deployed strategic nuclear warheads, and 760 deployed and non-deployed strategic launchers. Russia is in the process of both retiring many of its older strategic systems and replacing them with new systems.

For a factsheet on U.S. nuclear forces, click here.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs)

The following tables are based on public source data given that Russia does not release official statistics for specific New START accountable delivery systems.

Missile system

Number of systems

WarheadsTotal warheads

Deployment

R-36M2 (SS-18)

46

10

460

Dombarovsky, Uzhur

UR-100NUTTH (SS-19)

30

0

0

Kozelsk, Tatishchevo

Topol (SS-25)

36

1

36

Yoshkar-Ola, Nizhniy Tagil, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Barnaul, Vypolzovo

Topol-M silo (SS-27)

60

1

60

Tatishchevo

Topol-M mobile (SS-27)

18

1

18

Teykovo

RS-24 mobile

84

4

336

Teykovo

RS-24 silo

12

4

48

Kozelsk

Total

286

 

958

 

All tables are from http://russianforces.org.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs) and Submarines

Submarines

As of early 2017, the Navy had 12 functional strategic submarines of three different types, 11 of which are functional and one is being overhauled. They are deployed with the Northern Fleet and the Pacific Fleet. Bases of the Northern Fleet host six 667BDRM (Delta IV) submarines. The Delta IVs are undergoing overhaul in which they are being equipped with new missiles. The Pacific Fleet base hosts three 667BDR (Delta III) submarines but these are being withdrawn from service. Project 955 (also known as Borey or Yuri Dolgorukiy) is the newest class of submarines. Construction began in 1996 and the first joined the Northern Fleet in 2013, though subsequent submarines of this class will join the Pacific Fleet. As of January 2016, three Project 955 submarines have been accepted into service. When the missiles on Project 941 (Typhoon) class submarines reached the end of their service lives, these submarines were withdrawn from service. The one exception is the lead ship of the class, TK-208 Dmitry Donskoy, which was refitted for the new missile system, R-30 Bulava, which is designed for deployment on the Borev-class nuclear submarines The Borey class submarines are expected to constitute the core of the Russian strategic submarine fleet, replacing the aging Project 941 and Project 667 boats. Russia is planning to build eight Borey and Borey-A class subs by 2020.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles

RIA News reported, in June 2012, that the Bulava sea-based ballistic missile had entered service. The Bulava (SS-NX-30) SLBM, developed by the Moscow Institute of Thermal Technology, carries up to 6 MIRV warheads and has a range of over 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles). Borey class strategic submarines will carry up to 16 Bulava ballistic missiles, each with multiple warheads.

Strategic submarines

Number of submarines

Number of SLBMs and their type

Warheads

Total warheads

Project  667BDR (Delta III)

3*

32 R-29R (SS-N-18)

3

96

Project  667BDRM (Delta IV)

6*

96 R-29RM (SS-N-23)

4

384

Project 941 (Typhoon)

1**

- - -

- - - 

- - -

Project 955 (Borey)

3

48 R-30 Bulava

6

288

Total

12

160

 

768

[a] One submarine is undergoing overhaul and those missiles are not counted.
[b] One submarine of the Project 941 type has been refitted as a test bed for the Bulava missile system. It is not counted in the total number of operational submarines.

Strategic bombers

Russian Long-range Aviation Command consists of six divisions, two of which are the heavy-bomber divisions made up of Tu-160 and Tu-95MS aircraft. As of early 2017, the Command is estimated to have 66 strategic bombers. The bombers can carry various modifications of the Kh-55 (AS-15) cruise missile and gravity bombs.

Bomber

Number of bombers

Number of cruise missiles and their type

Total cruise missiles

Tu-95MS (Bear H)

55

Up to 16 Kh-55 (AS-15A)

No estimates available

Tu-160 (Blackjack)

11

12 Kh-55SM (AS-15B)

No estimates available

Total

66

 

~200

Strategic Arms Control and Policy

Country Resources:

Subject Resources:

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Russia

October 2018

Updated: October 2018

As of early 2018, Russia’s entire nuclear arsenal is estimated to comprise 6,850 warheads, including approximately 2,500 that have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement. As of the September 2018 New START data exchange, Russia had 1,420 strategic deployed warheads and 517 deployed ICBMs, SLBMs, and strategic bombers. U.S.-Russian nonproliferation cooperation has declined since 2013, though some bilateral efforts to secure nuclear material still continue. The number of Russian entities under U.S. nonproliferation sanctions has increased since 2014, which marks the start of a decline in U.S.-Russian relations. Beginning in June 2014, the State Department has alleged that Russia produced and tested a missile in violation of the 1987 INF Treaty, and Russia has responded with its own allegations of U.S. violations. Russia completed destruction of its chemical weapons, as obligated by the Chemical Weapons Convention in September 2017. It is party to the Biological Weapons Convention, but the United States maintained as recently as 2016 that it cannot be certain that Russia is complying with the treaty.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Nuclear Doctrine
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • New START
  • Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Syrian Chemical Weapons
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

 

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

1968

1970

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

2000

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1980

1983

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

---

2008

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1975

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

2007

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member, but Russia claims to adhere to the group’s rules and control list

Missile Technology Control Regime

Member

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Signed in 2000, entered into force in 2007

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Co-founder with the United States

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

Russia has filed reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

As of 2018, the Federation of American Scientists estimated that Russia possesses a nuclear arsenal consisting of a total of 6,850 warheads, including approximately 920 strategic warheads in storage, roughly 1,830 tactical warheads, and approximately 2,500 warheads that have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement. Under New START, Russia can deploy no more than 1,550 treaty accountable warheads until February 2021 when the treaty expires. As of September 2018, Russia deploys 1,420 strategic warheads on 517 strategic delivery systems.

Delivery Systems

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

  • As of 2018, Russia’s estimated 318 ICBMs, which carry approximately 1,138 warheads, include the:
    • RS-12M (three variants)
      • RS-12M (Topol [SS-25 Sickle])
      • RS-12M1 (Topol-M [SS-27 Mod 1]) (mobile)
      • RS-12M2 (Topol-M [SS-27 Mod 1]) (silo)
      • Each variant carries a single 800 kt warhead, 10,500-11,000 km range.
    • RS-24 Yars (SS-27 Mod 2)
      • Mobile and silo versions.
      • Each carries four 100kt MIRV warheads, 10,500 km range.
    • RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto)
      • Each carries six 400 kt multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), 10,000 km range.
    • RS-20V (SS-18 Satan) 
      • Each carries ten 500-800 kt MIRV warheads, 10,200-16,000 km range.
    • RS-26 Rubezh
    • RS-28 (SS-30 Sarmat)
      • Also known as the “Son of Satan” or “Satan 2.”
      • Russia is currently developing the RS-28 to replace the RS-20V by the end of the decade, with deployment expected to occur in the early 2020s.
      • It is reportedly being developed by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau, also known as the State Rocket Center (SRC) Makayev.
      • The Sarmat is expected to be equipped with 10 MIRVs, though some sources list an exaggerated 15 MIRVs.
    • Barguzin (rail-based version of SS-27 Mod 2)
      • Russian defense officials have indicated that it is intended to revive and upstage the former Soviet nuclear trains and is in the early stages of design development.
      • Russia successfully completed an ejection test in November 2016 and expects to that nuclear trains will enter into service between 2018 and 2020 and that they will remain in service until 2040.  
  • All of Russia’s ICBMs were developed and entered service from the 1980’s to the 1990’s with the exception of the RS-24 which entered service in 2010 and RS-26 and Rs-28 which are still under development.
  • While the number of Russian ICBMs is set to fall below 300 by the early 2020s, Russia is currently modernizing its land-based missiles and plans to increase the share of missiles equipped with multiple warheads.  

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM)

Submarines:

  • Russia is capable of delivering up to 768 warheads through Delta IV submarines, Delta III submarines and the new Borey-class submarines (to replace aging Delta III and IV submarines).
    • Delta IV
      • ​​​​​​​Part of Russia’s Northern Fleet.
      • Armed with 16 RSM-54 Sineva (SS-N-23 Skiff) missiles. 
      • Reportedly upgraded to carry the new R-29RMU2 Layner missiles (a modified Sineva missile).
    • Delta III
      • Part of Russia’s Pacific Fleet.
      • Armed with 16 RSM-50 Volna (SS-N-18 Stingray) missiles.
    • Borey class and Borey-A class
      • Armed with 16 RSM-56 Bulava missiles.
      • Russia is developing five upgraded Borey-A class submarines to be delivered by the mid-2020s.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM):

  • Russia’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles include the RSM-50, RSM-54, RSM-56, and reportedly the R-29RMU2 and include a total of 176 missile launchers on all SSBNs.
    • RSM-50 (SS-N-18 M1 Stingray)
      • ​​​​​​​Deployed in 1978.
      • Equipped with three 50kt MIRVs, 6,500-8,000 km range
    • RSM-54 (SS-N-23 M1 Sineva)
      • ​​​​​​​Deployed in 2007.
      • Equipped with four 100 kt MIRVs, 8,300 km range. 
    • RSM-56 (SS-N-32 Bulava)
      • Deployed in 2014.
      • Equipped with six 100 kt MIRVs, 8,000+ km range.
      • Since its inaugural test in 2004, the Bulava missile has a long record of failed launches, the most recent being in 2016.  
    • R-29RMU2
      • ​​​​​​​Several sources claim it entered service in 2014, some have speculated that the missile can be equipped with up to 10 warheads, however, other estimates put the number at 4 warheads.

Strategic Bombers

  • As of 2018, the Russian Air Force operates 68 long-range bombers which can carry a total of 616 warheads.
    • Tu-95 MS6
      • Capable of carrying nuclear Kh-55 (AS-15A) strategic cruise missiles. 
    • Tu-95 MS16
      • Capable of carrying nuclear Kh-55 (AS-15A) strategic cruise missiles.
    • Tu-160
      • Capable of carrying Kh-55 (AS-15B) cruise missiles or 12 Kh-15 (AS-16) short range attack missiles. 
  • All three aircraft are categorized as strategic heavy bombers and are limited by New START. 
  • All three bombers can be equipped with gravity bombs.
  • The Russian Air Force also operates a multipurpose medium-range supersonic bomber, the Tu-22M, which is considered a tactical nuclear delivery platform for various types of cruise missiles and is not limited by New START.
  • Russia has begun studying designs for a next-generation of strategic bombers meant to replace the entire fleet of Tu-95’s, Tu-160’s, and Tu-22M’s. The new bomber program is expected to develop a prototype by the early 2020’s.

Nuclear Doctrine

Under Russia’s military doctrine, most recently updated in December 2014, it “reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in response to aggression against the Russian Federation that utilizes conventional weapons that threatens the very existence of the state.”

U.S. Defense Department officials have said that Russian doctrine includes a so-called “escalate to de-escalate” strategy, which envisions the limited first use of nuclear weapons to attempt to end a large-scale conventional conflict on terms favorable to Russia. However, some experts have called into question whether “escalate to de-escalate” is part of Russian doctrine. 

Fissile Material

Russia has publicly declared that it no longer produces fissile material (highly enriched uranium [HEU] and plutonium) for weapons purposes.

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • The Kremlin announced a halt to HEU production for weapons in 1989 and the cessation of plutonium production for weapons in 1994.
  • At the end of 2016, Russia’s HEU stockpile was estimated at 679 metric tons, with a margin of error of 120 metric tons (making it, absent the margin of error, the largest HEU stockpile). Approximately 20 metric tons are designated for civilian use, the second largest stockpile of civilian HEU after the United States.
  • Russia concluded a joint program in 2013, the U.S.-Russia Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement, in which Moscow downblended 500 metric tons of its excess weapons grade HEU into a reactor fuel unsuitable for bombs that it then sold to the United States as light water reactor fuel.
  • A second U.S. funded program, the Material Conversion and Consolidation project (MCC), blended down 16.8 metric tons of HEU by the end of 2014.

Plutonium

  • In April 2010, Russia closed its last plutonium production facility, although it has not discounted a return to producing separated plutonium for fast-breeder reactors in the future.
  • Its total plutonium stockpile is, as of the end of 2016, estimated at 185.2 metric tons, with an 8 metric ton margin of error.
    • The weapons-grade stockpile is estimated at 128 ± 8 metric tons.
    • 57.2 metric tons of separated reactor-grade plutonium are declared for civilian use.
  • Russia committed to disposing of 34 metric tons of excess plutonium, beginning in 2018, under a 2000 agreement with the United States entitled the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA).
    • However, in October 2016, Russia, citing the U.S. failure to meet its obligations under the agreement, suspended its implementation of the deal and conditioned the resumption of implementation on the lifting of all U.S. sanctions against Russia and a restructuring of NATO’s forces. Russia contends that U.S. plans to abandon the conversion of plutonium into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in favor of a cheaper and faster downblending method does not meet the terms of the deal because this alternative method would not change the composition of the plutonium from weapons-grade to reactor-grade.  

Proliferation Record

  • The United States and independent analysts have long cited Russia as a key supplier of nuclear and missile-related goods and technology to a variety of countries, including states of proliferation concern such as Iran and Syria.
    • In response, the United States has often levied sanctions on Russian entities believed to be involved in such proliferation activities.
    • Beginning in the mid-2000s, the number and frequency of Russian entities placed under U.S. proliferation sanctions declined, possibly as a result of an increasing Russian commitment to controlling sensitive exports; however, that number has greatly increased since 2014.
  • Russia remains a source of illicit sensitive technology pertaining to missile proliferation.
  • The vast former Soviet biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons complexes, including their former scientists, have also been seen as a potential source of arms, materials, and knowledge for other regimes or non-state actors.
    • The United States and other countries have pursued programs dedicated to mitigating this potential threat by helping Russia and other former Soviet states secure or destroy facilities, materials, and weapon systems, and gainfully employ former scientists in non-arms related work.
    • However, there has been a significant decline in U.S.-Russian nonproliferation cooperation since 2013, despite continued cooperation in cleaning out weapon-grade material from third countries such as Poland in 2016.
  • After suspending the PMDA, Russia likewise suspended its participation in a 2013 cooperative agreement on nuclear and energy related research and terminated a third agreement from 2010 on exploring options for converting research reactors from weapons-usable fuel.

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Biological Weapons

  • The Soviet Union maintained an extensive offensive germ weapons program, including research into plague, anthrax, smallpox, tularemia, glanders, and hemorrhagic fever.
  • The United States has repeatedly voiced concern over the status of Russia’s inherited Soviet germ warfare program. However, in 2011, Russia maintained that it is in compliance with the BWC.
  • Nonetheless, the State Department in April 2016 maintained that Russia’s annual BWC confidence-building measures submissions since 1992 have “not satisfactorily documented whether this program [the inherited Soviet offensive biological research and development program] was completely destroyed or diverted to peaceful purposes in accordance with Article II of the BWC.” 
  • The lack of transparency surrounding this program prevents the U.S. from reaching more concrete conclusions.

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Chemical Weapons

  • Upon entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on Dec. 5, 1997, Russia declared that it possessed approximately 40,000 metric tons of chemical agents, the largest amount in the world at the time. A dispute lingers over whether Russia has fully declared all of its chemical weapons-related facilities and past production.
  • On September 27, 2017, the OPCW announced that Russia had completed the destruction of its full chemical weapons arsenal.
  • The State Department stated in 2016 that it “cannot certify that Russia has met its obligations under the Convention: for declaration of its CWPFs [chemical weapons production facilities]; its CW development facilities; or its CW stockpiles.”
  • The UK accused Russia of assassinating a former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter Yulia, in the UK using the chemical agent Novichok on March 4, 2018.

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
The 1987 INF Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union requires the United States and Russia to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty resulted in the United States and the Soviet Union destroying a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.

However, in July 2014 the U.S. State Department officially assessed Russia to be in violation of the agreement citing Russian production and testing of an illegal ground-launched cruise missile. The State Department reiterated this conclusion in 2015 and 2016.

For its part, Russia has raised concerns about U.S. compliance with the treaty. 

New START
In April 2010, the United States and Russia signed a successor to the original START accord. The new treaty, known as New START, entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011 and requires that both sides reduce their arsenals to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons on no more than 700 ICMBs, SLBMs, and bombers by 2018. Both sides met the limits by the Feb. 5, 2018 deadline, and the limits will hold until the treaty's expiration in February 2021. In addition, the treaty contains rigorous monitoring and verification provisions to ensure compliance with the agreement.

Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
In February 2013, President Obama announced that the United States intended to engage with Russia to further reduce deployed strategic warheads by one-third below the New START limit to around 1,100 to 1,000 deployed warheads. However, there has been little progress toward achieving such reductions due to the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russia’s insistence that other issues, such as limits on U.S. missile defenses, be part of negotiations on further reductions.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
Russia, along with China, has attached significant priority in the CD to negotiating an agreement on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS). However, the United States and other countries have opposed this initiative. In keeping with its official stance in support of a ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, Russia submitted a draft program of work to the CD in March 2016 calling for the establishment of a working group to recommend “effective measures to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.” In 2016, Russia also proposed that the CD should negotiate a new convention, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Chemical Terrorism, in order to fill several gaps it claims exist in the CWC.

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
The Russian government has signed and ratified protocols stating its intent to respect and not threaten the use of nuclear weapons against states-parties to the Latin America and South Pacific nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties. In 2011 Russia signed and ratified Protocol I and II for the African zone. In 2014, it ratified the protocols for the Central Asian zone but has yet to ratify the protocols for the Southeast Asian zone.

Nuclear Security Summits
Russian participation in Nuclear Security Summits includes the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC, the 2012 NSS in Seoul, and the 2014 NSS in The Hague. Russia did not participate in the most recent NSS, held in Washington, DC in 2016. The Russian boycott of the 2016 NSS came amid continued souring of U.S.-Russian relations. At the time, Moscow declared, “We do not see added value coming out of these meetings.”

Syrian Chemical Weapons
In September 2013, in the aftermath of the large-scale use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, Russia reached an agreement with the United States to account, inspect, control, and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. By July 2014, Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile had been successfully removed from the country and flagged for destruction following a broad multilateral operation. However, concerns have been raised about the accuracy of Syria’s declaration.

In September 2014 the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that chlorine gas was being used in Syria. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Mar. 6, 2015 condemning the use of chlorine gas in Syria. Russia has officially supported the UN resolution but maintained that only the OPCW can determine violations of the CWC and that it did not accept the use of sanctions under Chapter VII of the charter against Syria without confirming the use of chemical weapons. In August 2016, the third report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism was released, finding that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical weapons attacks.  

In April 2017, another chemical weapon attack was carried out in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun where Syrian government warplanes were accused of spreading a nerve agent via bombs, killing dozens. Russia stood by the Assad regime, claiming that the airstrike had hit an opposition depot housing chemical weapons. In November 2017, Russia blocked investigations into identifying who has used chemical weapons in Syria from continuing.

(For a detailed timeline on Syrian chemical weapons, see our fact sheet here.)

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia took part in the negotiation of the July 2015 JCPOA, which limits and rolls back Iran’s nuclear program. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the accord "will favorably affect the general situation in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf." Russia backed the JCPOA on the grounds of supporting nonproliferation especially since its borders fall well within the range of Iranian ballistic missiles. Furthermore, Russia stands to accrue significant economic gains in Iran with the lifting of nonproliferation sanctions. For example, in 2016 Russia concluded the delivery of an S-300 air defense missile system worth $800 million to Iran in a deal that had been suspended since 2010. Russia has continued to support the JCPOA following the Trump administration's violation and withdrawal from the deal in May 2018.

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