Nuclear Weapons in Russia: Safety, Security, and Control Issues [Updated December 5, 2001]   [open pdf - 105KB]

"When the Soviet Union collapsed in late 1991, it reportedly possessed more than 27,000 nuclear weapons, and these weapons were deployed on the territories of several of the former Soviet republics. All of the nuclear warheads have now been moved to Russia, but Russia still has around 6,000 strategic nuclear weapons and perhaps as many as 12,000 warheads for nonstrategic nuclear weapons. Many analysts in the United States and Russia have expressed concerns about the safety, security, and control over these weapons. Some of these concerns focus on Russia's nuclear command and control structure. Financial constraints have slowed the modernization and replacement of many aging satellites and communications links, raising the possibility that Russia might not be able to identify a potential attack or communicate with troops in the field if an attack were underway. Some fear that the misinterpretation of an ambiguous event might lead to the launch of nuclear weapons. Some also expressed concern that the year 2000 computer bug could affect Russia's command and control system, but it did not. Some concerns are also focused on the safety and security of nuclear warheads in storage facilities in Russia. Press reports and statements by Russian officials about possible missing warheads have added to these concerns. However, General Eugene Habiger, former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, stated that he had no major concerns about security at Russian nuclear storage facilities after he visited several storage sites in October 1997 and June 1998."

Report Number:
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB98038
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