"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
Chronology of U.S.-Soviet-CIS Nuclear Relations

The following is a continuation of a chronology of key developments in nuclear relations between the United States and the former Soviet Union that first appeared in the June 1994 issue of ACT


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Telephone: (202) 463-8270; E-mail: [email protected]

August 11, 1995: President Clinton announced that the United States would support a "zero-yield" CTB treaty, which he said "would ban any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion immediately upon entry into force."

September 28, 1995: At a meeting of the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission (JCIC)—which oversees the implementation of START I—the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan signed a joint statement reaffirming that space launch vehicles using the first stages of ICBMs and SLBMs are treaty-accountable and subject to START I limitations.

October 23, 1995: During their summit meeting in Hyde Park, New York, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin affirmed their support for START II ratification, agreed to work together to achieve a zero-yield CTB treaty in 1996 and announced the continuation of cooperative efforts on nuclear security issues.

November 17, 1995: Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Mamedov agreed on a framework for establishing a "demarcation line" between permitted TMD and restricted ABM systems. Under the agreed framework, TMD systems with interceptor velocities of 3 kilometers per second or less will be considered treaty-compliant provided that they are not tested against ballistic missile targets with ranges greater than 3,500 kilometers or velocities above 5 kilometers per second.

December 12, 1995: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved the START II resolution of ratification, clearing the way for Senate floor action.

January 26, 1996: The Senate overwhelmingly approved the START II resolution of ratification by a vote of 87-4.

January 29-30, 1996: The Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission met in Washington for its sixth session, during which Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Viktor Mikhailov signed a joint statement extending nuclear material protection, control and accounting (MPC&A) controls to six Russian facilities where weapons-usable nuclear material is stored. O'Leary and Mikhailov also agreed to continue studying the feasibility of converting the reactor cores of Russia's three plutonium-producing reactors, which Moscow previously agreed to shut down by 2000.

April 1920, 1996: Leaders of the G7 industrialized countries and Russia met in Moscow for a summit on nuclear safety and security. Yeltsin reaffirmed Russia's commitment to a zero-yield CTB treaty initially announced at the Hyde Park summit in 1995. The eight leaders also agreed to a program to enhance cooperative efforts in preventing and combatting the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials; called for the strengthening of MPC&A efforts; and expressed their support for the safe and effective management of fissile material no longer required for military purposes.

April 21, 1996: In their bilateral summit meeting, which followed the nuclear safety and security summit in Moscow, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin reaffirmed their support for the START II ratification process and announced that they had made progress toward resolving the ABM-TMD demarcation dispute.

June 1, 1996: Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma announced that Ukraine had transferred the last of the former Soviet strategic nuclear warheads on its territory to Russia, thereby making it the second republic of the former Soviet Union to become completely nuclear-free. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Ukraine inherited roughly 1,900 strategic warheads and 2,500 tactical warheads—the equivalent of the world's third largest nuclear arsenal—although Kiev never had operational control over the weapons.

June 24, 1996: The Standing Consultative Commission (SCC) ended its second session of 1996, during which the United States, Russia, Belarus, Kazakstan and Ukraine reached a preliminary agreement to permit the deployment of TMD systems with interceptor speeds of 3 kilometers per second or less provided that the systems are not tested against ballistic missile targets with velocities above 5 kilometers per second or ranges that exceed 3,500 kilometers. In addition, the five states reached preliminary agreement on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would formalize the procedures by which the former Soviet republics that would like to succeed to the rights and obligations of the former Soviet Union under the ABM Treaty could do so. The United States and Russia also reached agreement on a series of confidence-building measures to accompany the agreed statement on demarcation as well as regulations to govern the multilateral operation of the SCC.

June 27, 1996: By a vote of 960, the Senate approved the "Defense Against Weapons of Mass Destruction Act of 1996," a follow-on to the Nunn-Lugar security assistance program. The legislation, commonly known as "Nunn-Lugar II," seeks to enhance U.S. preparedness in responding to incidents involving the use of nuclear, radiological, biological and chemical weapons on U.S. territory; bolster efforts to interdict the possible introduction of weapons of mass destruction to the United States; better coordinate U.S. government policy on non-proliferation issues; and continue on-going measures under the original Nunn-Lugar program to safeguard, dismantle and destroy nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union.

July 14-16, 1996: The Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission met in Moscow for its seventh session, during which Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov signed a joint statement that extends MPC&A controls to four Russian facilities where weapons-grade nuclear material is stored. In addition, they signed a follow-on statement to improve MPC&A measures over nuclear materials during their transportation. O'Leary and Mikhailov also agreed to continue studying replacement power options for three dual-purpose plutonium-producing reactors that Russia promised to shut down by 2000.

September 20, 1996: Russian and Kazak officials announced that all of the SS-18 ICBM silos located in Kazakstan had been destroyed, thereby fulfilling that country's obligations under START I. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Kazakstan possessed 104 SS-18 ICBMs and 40 Bear-H bombers. The last of these bombers was transferred to Russia in February 1994.

September 23, 1996: Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeni Primakov reaffirmed the preliminary agreement on lower-velocity TMD systems reached during the May 20-June 24 session of the SCC.

September 24, 1996: The CTB Treaty was opened for signature at the United Nations in New York. All five of the declared nuclear-weapon states signed the treaty on this day.

October 16-18, 1996: Secretary of Defense William Perry visited Moscow to urge Russian ratification of START II and promote greater U.S.Russian military cooperation. Addressing some 100 members of key Duma committees, Perry called for prompt Russian ratification of START II to be followed by negotiations of START III. His presentation was not well received, however, as many Duma members expressed serious concerns about various treaty provisions and the eastward expansion of the NATO alliance.

October 25, 1996: Russia announced that it was not willing to allow implementation of the "first-phase" demarcation agreement on lower-velocity TMD systems until a "second-phase" agreement covering higher-velocity TMD systems had been concluded. Opposed to this linkage, the United States called off the October 31 signing ceremony between Undersecretary of State Lynn Davis and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Georgi Mamedov in Geneva.

November 14, 1996: The United States and Russia reached an agreement in Moscow that will substantially accelerate implementation of their 1993 HEU purchase agreement. The new arrangement establishes set prices, quantities and terms for the Russian LEU shipments through 2001. At that time, Russia is expected to have converted to LEU the HEU equivalent of about 7,500 nuclear warheads. As part of this agreement, Russia was awarded an advance payment of $100 million against future deliveries of LEU and enhanced transparency measures were established.

November 23, 1996: Belarus returned the last of its strategic nuclear warheads to Russia, thereby completing the withdrawal of all nuclear weapons from the non-Russian republics of the former Soviet Union. Four days later, a ceremony was held near Lida during which Belarusan officers placed the last single-warhead SS-25 nuclear missile on a train destined for Russia. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, more than 500 strategic and tactical warheads and 81 SS-25 ICBMs were deployed in Belarus.

December 9, 1996: The Clinton administration announced that the "dual-track" approach was its "preferred alternative" for eliminating excess weapons-grade plutonium. This approach entails immobilizing plutonium in glass or ceramic and burning it as mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in civilian nuclear reactors.

January 13, 1997: Russian Atomic Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov announced that Moscow would remove by March approximately 4.3 kilograms of HEU and 0.8 kilograms of spent fuel from a former Soviet research reactor located in Tbilisi, Georgia. The United States reportedly has been concerned about the security of these nuclear materials due to Georgia's proximity to Iran.

February 67, 1997: The United States and Russia met in Washington for the eighth session of the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission. During this session, then-Acting Secretary of Energy Charles Curtis and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Viktor Mikhailov signed a joint statement that reaffirms each side's commitment to the MPC&A program and includes the Instrument Research Institute (Lytkarino) in the program beginning this year.

March 20-21, 1997: Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin reached agreement on a number of arms control issues during their summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland. In a "Joint Statement on Parameters on Future Reductions in Nuclear Forces," the presidents agreed to extend by five years the deadline for the elimination of strategic nuclear delivery vehicles under START II and to immediately begin negotiations on a START III agreement once START II enters into force. They further agreed that START III negotiations will include four basic components: a limit of 2,000-2,500 deployed strategic nuclear warheads for each side by the end of 2007; measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories as well as to the destruction of strategic warheads; conversion of the current START agreements to unlimited duration; and the "deactivation" by the end of 2003 of all strategic nuclear delivery vehicles to be eliminated under START II.

In a separate "Joint Statement Concerning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty," Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin reaffirmed the May 1995 principles for agreement on demarcation between ABM and TMD systems. The leaders also reached an agreement in principle governing the status of higher-velocity TMD systems under the ABM Treaty. Under this "phase-two" agreement, the United States and Russia are permitted to deploy high-velocity TMD systems provided they are not tested against ballistic missile targets with velocities above 5 kilometers per second or ranges that exceed 3,500 kilometers. The agreement, however, prohibits each side from developing, testing or deploying space-based TMD interceptors or components based on other physical principles that can substitute for such interceptors.

March 21, 1997: State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns announced that the United States had cut off approximately $40 million in Nunn-Lugar assistance to Belarus due to its poor human rights record.

April 9, 1997: Aleksei Mitrofanov, chairman of the Duma's Geopolitics Committee, announced that the Duma has "put off" discussion of START II.

May 16, 1997: In Washington, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma announced that Kiev had decided to start eliminating its 46 SS-24 missiles—a measure that would go beyond its obligations under START I. Vice President Al Gore noted that U.S. funds (under the Nunn-Lugar program) would support this effort.

May 22, 1997: Dissatisfied with the state of the Russian armed forces and the pace of military reforms, President Yeltsin fired Defense Minister Igor Rodionov and replaced him with General Igor Sergeyev, then-Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces. Sergeyev has been a consistent advocate of the START process and will have substantial credibility with the Duma as it considers START II.

May 27, 1997: President Yeltsin announced in Paris, during the signing of the NATO-Russian Founding Act, that Russia would remove the "warheads" from strategic nuclear missiles targeted against NATO member states. His aides quickly corrected the "mistranslation" to say that Russia would no longer target its strategic missiles against NATO countries—a less ambitious measure.

June 20, 1997: At their bilateral summit meeting in Denver, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed that the United States and Russia would attempt to complete the phase-two demarcation agreement pertaining to higher-velocity TMD systems during the July session of the SCC. Yeltsin also pledged to push for Russian ratification of START II.