Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons


Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

This report estimates that Russia has approximately 2,000 non-strategic nuclear weapons

assigned to non-strategic nuclear-capable delivery vehicles. This inventory has declined

significantly since the end of the Cold War and is likely to continue to decline in

the next decade – with or without a new arms control agreement - due to age and limited


Presidential Initiatives 106

Russian Non-Strategic Nuclear Weapons

The reduction of Russian non-strategic nuclear weapons has occurred as a result of the

unilateral Presidential Nuclear Initiatives (PNIs) by Presidents Gorbachev and Yeltsin in

1991-1992. On November 5, 1991, in response to unilateral initiatives announced by

President George W.H. Bush on September 27, 1991, President Mikhail Gorbachev announced

several steps to reduce Russian non-strategic nuclear forces:

Eliminate nuclear warheads for non-strategic missiles, artillery, and mines;

Offload non-strategic nuclear weapons from ships, general-purpose submarines,

and naval aircraft, and place in centralized storage. Some warheads

would be eliminated;

Remove nuclear warheads from operational anti-aircraft weapons and place in

central storage. Some warheads would be eliminated;

Non-strategic nuclear weapons for tactical aircraft would be moved to central

storage, if the United States did the same.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Russian President

Boris Yeltsin moved quickly on January 29, 1992, to reaffirm and broaden Gorbachev’s


All nuclear warheads for tactical missiles, artillery shells, and mines would be

eliminated. Production had recently been terminated;

All non-strategic naval nuclear weapons for surface ships and general-purpose

submarines would be offloaded and placed in storage. One-third would be


Nuclear warheads for anti-aircraft units would be removed and stored. Half

would be eliminated;

Half of non-strategic warheads for tactical aviation would be eliminated, and

the remainder would be moved to central storage if the United States did the


106 For descriptions of Russian presidential nuclear initiatives, see: Joshua Handler, Russian Nuclear Warhead Dismantlement

Rates and Storage Site Capacity: Implications for the Implementation of START II and De-alerting Initiatives, Woodrow Wilson School,

Princeton University, CEES Report No. AC-99-01, February 1999; Eli Corin, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation

Studies, Monterey Institute of International Studies, Presidential Nuclear Initiatives: An Alternative Paradigm for Arms Control,

Issue Brief, Nuclear Threat Initiative, March 2004,; Amy Woolf, Non-Strategic

Nuclear Weapons, Congressional Research Service, Order Code RL32572, September 9, 2004.

Federation of American Scientists 46

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