Russia and weapons of mass destruction

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Weapons of
mass destruction
By Type
Biological weapons
Chemical weapons
Nuclear weapons
Radiological weapons
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China (PRC)
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See also
Dirty bomb
Radiological warfare
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Russia possesses one of the two largest stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in the world (the United States possess the other). Russia declared an arsenal of 40,000 tons of chemical weapons in 1997 and is said to have around 19,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled in 2002 with perhaps only 8,500 of them operational. Russia ratified the Geneva Protocol on January 22, 1975 with reservations. The reservations were later dropped on January 18, 2001.


Nuclear Weapons

Russia is said to have around 19,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled in 2002 with perhaps only 8,500 of them operational. [1] ( Russia is one of the five "Nuclear Weapons States" (NWS) under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Russia ratified (as the Soviet Union) in 1968.

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, a number of Soviet-era nuclear warheads were transferred to Russia from Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine, leaving Russia as the sole inheritor of the Soviet nuclear arsenal. It is estimated that the USSR had approximately 35,000 nuclear weapons stockpiled at the time of its collapse.

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.

Biological Weapons

Russia signed the Biological Weapons Convention on April 10, 1972 and ratified the treaty on March 26, 1975.

According to Ken Alibek, who was deputy-director of Biopreparat, the Soviet biological weapons agency, and who defected to the USA in 1992, weapons were developed in labs in isolated areas of the Soviet Union including mobilization facilities at Omutininsk, Penza and Pokrov and research facilities at Moscow, Stirzhi and Vladamir. These weapons were tested at several facilities most often at "Rebirth Island" (Vozrozhdeniya) in the Aral Sea by firing the weapons into the air above monkeys tied to posts, the monkeys would then be monitored to determine the effects.

There were many accidents including one at Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg) where there was an accidental anthrax release when filters were not properly installed and people across the street in a factory fell ill and died. This is still officially considered by the Russian government as an infection from rotting meat that was sold on the black market.

While developing this programme the Soviets presumed the USA was also developing an offensive programme; they were not.

Chemical Weapons

Russia signed the Chemical Weapons Convention on January 13, 1993 and ratified it on November 5, 1997. Russia declared an arsenal of 40,000 tons of chemical weapons in 1997.

Russia met its treaty obligations by destroying 1% of its chemical agents by the Chemical Weapons Convention's 2002 deadline [2] ( but requested technical and financial assistance and extensions on the deadlines of 2004 and 2007.

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