Russia possesses the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the world. Russia declared an arsenal of 40,000 tons of chemical weapons in 1997 and is said to have had around 6681 nuclear weapons stockpiled in 2005, making its stockpile the largest in the world. The Soviet Union ratified the Geneva Protocol on January 22, 1975 with reservations. The reservations were later dropped on January 18, 2001.
Nuclear arsenal of Russia
Russia was estimated to have around 6681 active strategic nuclear warheads in its arsenal. Russia also has a large but unknown number of tactical nuclear weapons . Strategic nuclear forces of Russia include:
- Land based Strategic Rocket Forces: 489 missiles carrying up to 1,788 warheads; they employ immobile (silos), like SS-18 Satan, and mobile delivery systems, like SS-27 Topol M.
- Sea based Strategic Fleet: 12 submarines carrying up to 609 warheads; they employ delivery systems like SS-N-30 Bulava.
- Strategic Aviation: 237 bombers(16 Tu-160,63 Tu-95,and 158 Tu-22m) carrying up to 884 Cruise missiles.
Doctrine of limited nuclear war
According to a Russian military doctrine stated in 2003, tactical nuclear weapons (Strategic Deterrence Forces) could be used to "prevent political pressure against Russia and her allies (Armenia, Belarus, Serbia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan)."
Thus, the Russian leadership "is officially contemplating a limited nuclear war".
After the Korean War,
Soviet Union transferred nuclear technology and weapons to the People's Republic of China as an adversary of the United States and NATO According to Ion Mihai Pacepa, "Khrushchev’s nuclear-proliferation process started with Communist China in April 1955, when the new ruler in the Kremlin consented to supply Beijing a sample atomic bomb and to help with its mass production. Subsequently, the Soviet Union built all the essentials of China’s new military nuclear industry."
Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, a number of Soviet-era nuclear warheads remained on the territories of Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Under the terms of the Lisbon Protocol to the NPT, and following the 1995 Trilateral Agreement between Russia, Belarus, and the USA, these were transferred to Russia, leaving Russia as the sole inheritor of the Soviet nuclear arsenal. It is estimated that the USSR had approximately 39,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled at the time of its collapse.
The collapse of the Soviet Union allowed for a warming of relations with NATO. Fears of a Nuclear holocaust lessened. Recently, however, a new threat has gained attention, both in politics and in popular culture: Nuclear terrorism. Movies such as The Peacemaker and True Lies depict terrorist organizations obtaining nuclear weapons from Post-Soviet states and smuggling them into the US. In September of 1997, the former secretary of the Russian Security Council Alexander Lebed claimed 100 "suitcase sized" nuclear weapons were unaccounted for. He said he was attempting to inventory the weapons when he was fired by President Boris Yeltsin in October 1996. In 2005, Sergey Sinchenko, a legislator from the Bloc of Yulia Timoshenko (a Ukrainian reformist party) said 250 nuclear weapons were unaccounted for. When comparing documents of nuclear weapons transferred from Ukraine to weapons received by Russia, there was a 250 weapon discrepancy. Indeed, several US politicians have expressed worries and promised legislation addressing the threat.
In 2002, the United States and Russia agreed to reduce their stockpiles to not more than 2200 warheads each in the SORT treaty. In 2003, the US rejected Russian proposals to further reduce both nation's nuclear stockpiles to 1500 each. Many say that this refusal was a sign of US aggression and accuse the US of thus leaving the danger of US and Russia's mutual destruction. Russia is actively producing and developing new nuclear weapons. Since 1997 it manufactures Topol-M (SS-27) ICBMs.Russia refused to discuss reduction of tactical nuclear weapons and allegedly transferred nuclear technology to North Korea.[7
The United States is one of the five recognized nuclear powers under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ("NPT"). It maintains a current arsenal of around 9,960 intact warheads, of which 5,735 are considered active or operational, and of these only a certain number are deployed at any given time. These break down into 5,021 "strategic" warheads, 1,050 of which are deployed on land-based missile systems (all on Minuteman ICBMs), 1,955 on bombers (B-52, B-1B, and B-2), and 2,016 on submarines (Ohio class), according to a 2006 report by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Of 500 "tactical" "nonstrategic" weapons, around 100 are Tomahawk cruise missiles and 400 are B61 bombs. A few hundred of the B61 bombs are located at seven bases in six European NATO countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom), the only such weapons in forward deployment.Around 4,225 warheads have been removed from deployment but have remained stockpiled as a "responsible reserve force" on inactive status.