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– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Country Profiles

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: North Korea

September 2017

Updated: September 2017

North Korea currently has the fissile material for an estimated 10-16 nuclear weapons, as well as advanced chemical and biological weapons programs. In the past several years Pyongyang has accelerated the pace of ballistic missile testing, and twice in July 2017 tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the U.S. mainland. North Korea withdrew from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003, but its withdrawal is disputed. Beginning in 2006, the UN Security Council has passed several resolutions requiring North Korea to halt its nuclear and missile activities and imposing sanctions on Pyongyang for its refusal to comply. 

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • History and Diplomatic Initiatives
  • Delivery Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Additional Resources on North Korea

 

 

 

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

 

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

*North Korea maintains it withdrew from the NPT in 2003, but its withdrawal is questionable.

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1985*

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

---

---

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

---

---

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

---

---

Chemical Weapons Convention

---

---

Biological Weapons Convention

---

1987

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

---

---

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Not a member and has frequently exported missiles and related materials

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Not a member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Not a member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

None

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Not a participant

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Not a participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Not a participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

North Korea has not filed the requested reports on its activities to fulfill the resolution

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

  • North Korea has the fissile material for an estimated 10-16 nuclear weapons and may have as many as 20-100 warheads by 2020. 
  • North Korea has an estimated 6-8 plutonium-based warheads, based on its known plutonium production. North Korea is also known to have a uranium-enrichment program using centrifuge technology, although its enrichment capacity is unknown. It is unclear if North Korea is enriching uranium to weapons grade. If so, it could have material for an additional 4-8 warheads.
  • North Korea was party to the NPT, but withdrew in 2003. Not all states, however, recognize the legality of North Korea’s withdrawal from the treaty.
  • North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests as of September 2017. After the first test in 2006, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 1718, enacting a variety of multilateral sanctions and demanding that Pyongyang return to the NPT and halt its nuclear weapons activities.

History and Diplomatic Initiatives

The Origin of the Program

  • North Korea, with the assistance of the Soviet Union, began constructing the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center in the early 1960s and by the early 1970s, had access to plutonium reprocessing technology from the Soviet Union. 
  • In December 1985, North Korea signed the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state.
  • However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovered in 1992 that North Korea had diverted plutonium from its civilian program for weapons purposes.

U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework

  • In 1994, President Jimmy Carter and North Korean leader Kim Il Sung negotiated the U.S.-North Korea Agreed Framework, in which North Korea committed to freeze its plutonium-based weapons program at Yongbyon in exchange for two light-water reactors and other forms of energy assistance. The deal eventually broke down and North Korea withdrew from the NPT.
  • For more information, see The U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework at a Glance.

Six-Party Talks

  • In August 2003, in response to North Korea’s withdrawal from the NPT, Russia, China, Japan, the United States, and the two Koreas launched a multilateral diplomatic process, known as the six-party talks.
  • In September 2005, the six-party talks realized its first major success with the adoption of a joint statement in which North Korea pledged to abandon its nuclear weapons activities and return to the NPT in return for security assurances and energy assistance.
  • In building on the 2005 statement, North Korea took steps such as disabling its plutonium reactor at Yongbyon in 2007 and allowing IAEA inspectors into the country. In return, North Korea recieved fuel oil.
  • North Korea declared it would no longer be bound by agreements made under the six party talks in April 2009 after a period of increased tensions.
  • For more information, see: The Six Party Talks at a Glance

Nuclear tests

  • On Oct. 9, 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test with an estimated yield of about one kiloton.
  • North Korea then conducted its second nuclear test on June 25, 2009 with the underground detonation of a nuclear device estimated to have a yield of 2 to 6 kilotons.
  • On February 12, 2013, the Korean Central News Agency announced that North Korea successfully detonated a nuclear device at its underground test site. The explosive yield was estimated at approximately 15 kilotons. North Korea claimed the device was ‘miniaturized’, a term commonly used to refer to a warhead light enough to fit on the tip of a ballistic missile.
  • On January 6, 2016, Pyongyang announced its fourth nuclear test, declaring that it was a test of the hydrogen bomb design. The explosive yield was estimated at 15-20 kilotons.  Experts doubt that the test was a hydrogen bomb, but contend that the test could have used boosted fission, a process that uses lithium gas to increase the efficiency of the fission reaction for a larger explosion.
  • On September 9, 2016, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test, with an estimated explosive yield of 20-25 kilotons.
  • On September 3, 2017, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test explosion, of what experts assess could be a hydrogen bomb.

Delivery Systems

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM)

  • North Korea is actively expanding its ballistic missile arsenal and allegedly working toward developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). As of August 2017, North Korea’s operational and developing intercontinental and intermediate-range missiles include:
    • Musudan BM-25 (Hwasong-10): The Musudan BM-25 is an intermediate-range ballistic missile with an expected range of 2500-4000km. It has been flight tested six times, most recently on June 21, 2016.
    • Hwasong-12: On May 14, 2017, North Korea tested another new ballistic missile, the Hwasong-12, which appears to be an intermediate-range, single-stage missile with an estimated range of 4,500 kilometers.
    • KN-08 (Hwasong-13): The KN-08 is an intercontinental ballistic missile under development with an estimated range of 5,500-11,500km. Given that the system has not been tested, however, the range estimates are highly speculative. It was first unveiled in April 2012 and has not yet been tested, although North Korea likely tested the rocket engine for this system.
    • KN-14 (Hwasong-13, KN-08 Mod 2): The KN-14 is an ICBM under development with an estimated range of 8,000-10,000km. Given that the system has not been tested, however, the range estimates are highly speculative. It was first unveiled in October 2015 and is believed to be a variant of the KN-08.
    • Hwasong-14: The Hwasong-14 is an ICBM, first tested July 4, 2017 and tested again on July 28, 2017. The tests were conducted at a lofted trajectory. The first test showed a range of about 6,700km at a standard trajectory. The second test showed a range of 10,400km, not taking into account the rotation of the earth.
    • Taepodong-2: The inaugural flight test of North Korea’s longest-range missile, the Taepodong-2, ended in failure about 40 seconds after launch on July 5, 2006. In April 2009, the Taepodong-2 missile was tested unsuccessfully again. The Taepodong-2 is believed to be capable of reaching the United States if developed as an ICBM.

Space-Launched Vehicles (SLV)

  • Unha-3: North Korea's SLV is a three-stage liquid fueled system, likely based on the Taepodong-2.
  • In February 2012, North Korea agreed to cease long-range missile tests in exchange for food aid from the United States. North Korea stated that the agreement did not cover space launch vehicles and proceeded to launch the Unha in April 2009. The SLV exploded shortly after launch. The United States contended that the agreement did cover SLVs, causing the agreement, known as the Leap Day Deal, to fall apart.
  • On December 12, 2012, North Korea claimed that it successfully launched a satellite into space using its Unha rocket. It placed a second satellite into orbit in February 2016.

Short and Medium Range Missiles 

  • North Korea’s short-range and medium-range missiles include:
    • KN-02 (Toska): The KN-02 is an operational, short-range missile with an estimated range of 120-170km.
    • Hwasong-5: The Hwasong-5 is an operational short-range ballistic missile with an estimated range of 300km.
    • Hwasong-6: The Hwasong-6 is an operational short-range ballistic missile with an estimated range of 500km.
    • Hwasong-7: The Hwasong-7 is an operational short-range ballistic missile with an estimated range of 700-1000km.
    • KN-15 (Pukkuksong 2): On February 11, 2017, North Korea launched a new medium-range ballistic missile, the Pukguksong-2, a two-stage, solid-fueled system with an estimated range of 1200-2000km. 
    • No-Dong-1: The No-Dong is an operational medium-range ballistic missile with a range of 1200-1500km.
    • KN-18: The KN-08 is a scud variant with a maneuvering re-entry vehicle. It was first tested, successfully, on May 28, 2017. It has an estimated range of  450+ km. 

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

  • North Korea is developing a submarine-launched ballistic missile, the KN-11, also known as the Pukkuksong-1 or Polaris-1.
  • The KN-11 was first tested in December 2014, and images from the missile first emerged after a May 2015 test at the Sinpo site. Photos released by the KNCA portrayed the test as a submarine launch, but the missile was likely fired from a submerged barge.
  • The KN-11 was most recently tested on August 24, 2016. It is estimated to become operational by 2020
  • Since October 2014, activity at the Sinpo South Shipyard indicates that North Korea may be using an experimental SINPO-class submarine as a test bed for submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

Fissile Material

Plutonium

  • Experts assess that North Korea’s 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests likely used plutonium, which North Korea was known to have produced at weapons-grade levels.
  • North Korea announced its intention to restart its Yongbyon 5MWe Reactor for plutonium production in April 2013, after disabling it as a part of the six-party talks in 2007. North Korea declared the site to be “fully operational” by late August 2015. 
  • The reactor is capable of producing six kg of weapons-grade plutonium each year. 
  • Satellite imagery from April 2016 and January 2017 confirmed increased activity at the reprocessing site.

Highly Enriched Uranium

  • While Pyongyang has constructed a gas centrifuge facility, it is unknown if the facility is producing uranium enriched to weapons-grade.
  • In November 2010, North Korea unveiled a large uranium-enrichment plant to former officials and academics from the United States. The plant contained approximately 2,000 gas centrifuges that were claimed to be operating and producing low-enriched uranium (LEU) for a light-water reactor (LWR) that North Korea is constructing. This plant is estimated to be capable of producing two metric tons of LEU each year, enough to fuel the LWR reactor under construction, or to produce 40 kg of highly-enriched uranium (HEU), enough for one to two nuclear weapons.

Proliferation Record

Missiles:

  • North Korea has been a key supplier of missiles and missile technology to countries in the Middle East and South Asia including Egypt, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Syria and Yemen.
  • Such transfers are believed to be one of Pyongyang’s primary sources of hard currency.
  • Although clientele for North Korea's missile exports appear to have dwindled in recent years due to U.S. pressure and UN sanctions, Iran and Syria remain customers of North Korean missile assistance.
  • Pyongyang is widely believed to have provided missile cooperation to Burma.

Nuclear

  • North Korea has a history of circumventing sanctions to import and export dual-use materials relevant to nuclear and ballistic missile activities and to sell conventional arms and military equipment. A UN panel of exports reports annually on adherance to UN Security Council sanctions and illict trafficking. A few examples include:
    • North Korea helped Syria to build an undeclared nuclear reactor in al-Kibar based on its own Yongbyon reactor. In 2007, the reactor, which was under construction, was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike.
    • In November 2012, North Korea allegedly attempted to sell graphite rods to Syria.

Nuclear Doctrine

North Korea declared in January 2016 it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons unless its sovereignty is under threat and stated North Korea will “faithfully fulfill its obligation for non-proliferation and strive for the global denuclearization.” Kim Jong Un reiterated this policy in May 2016 when he said that North Korea will not use a nuclear weapon unless its sovereignty is “encroached upon by any aggressive hostile forces” with nuclear weapons.

North Korea’s constitution was amended in 2013 to describe itself as a “nuclear state and an unchallengeable military power.”

Given that North Korea typically does not describe its nuclear activities accurately, it is unclear to what extent Pyongyang would abide by this declared doctrine.

Biological Weapons

  • Pyongyang is believed to maintain a biological weapons capability.
  • The United States intelligence community continues to judge that North Korea has a biotechnology infrastructure to support such a capability, and has a munitions production capacity that could be used to weaponize biological agents.
  • North Korea maintains the modern Pyongyang Bio-technical Institute, purportedly a pesticide factory, equipped with dual-use equipment that can be used to maintain a biological weapons capability and is likely intended to produce “military-size” batches of anthrax.

Chemical Weapons

  • North Korea is widely reported to possess a large arsenal of chemical weapons, including mustard, phosgene, and sarin agents.
  • According to U.S. military estimates, North Korea “can deploy missiles with chemical warheads.”
  • North Korea is believed to have 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons according to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.
  • In February 2017, North Korean agents used VX, widely believed to be the most toxic known nerve agent, to assassinate Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of Kim Jong Un in Malaysia. 

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

  • In December 1991, the two Koreas signed a Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Under the declaration, both countries agreed not to “test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons” or to “possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities.” The parties also agreed to mutual inspections for verification, but they were never able to reach an agreement on implementation.
  • In light of North Korea's flagrant violations, this agreement holds little weight in Seoul, which has called for an end to the prohibition on South Korean reprocessing from its bilateral nuclear agreement with the United States.
  • North Korea formally declared the Joint Declaration void in January 2013.

Additional Resources on North Korea

  1. Factsheet: Chronology of U.S.-North Korean Nuclear and Missile Diplomacy 
  2. Factsheet: UN Security Council Resolutions on North Korea 
  3. Factsheet: The Six-Party Talks at a Glance 
  4. Factsheet: The U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework at a Glance 
  5. Issue Brief, February 2017: Recalibrating U.S. Policy Toward North Korea
Country Profiles

Country Resources:

Fact Sheet Categories:

Posted: September 3, 2017

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: India

February 2015

Updated: July 2017

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that India subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of India, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available here.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • Bilateral Talks with Pakistan
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Nuclear Cooperation Agreements
  • Civilian Nuclear Trade with India & the 123 Agreement

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

Has developed nuclear weapons outside the treaty.

- - -

- - -

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Only supports the treaty in the context of general nuclear disarmament.

- - -

- - -

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

 

*Stated it will not be bound by the dispute settlement procedures in Paragraph 2, Article 17.

- - -

2002*

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

- - -

2007

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1996

Biological Weapons Convention

1973

1974

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

 

*Stated it will not be bound by the dispute settlement procedures in Paragraph 1, Article 23.

2006

2006*

Back to Top

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Member

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Not a member, but vowed to “harmonize” its export controls with those advocated by the voluntary 45-member group. India is prohibited from importing key nuclear materials and technologies from group members because New Delhi does not subject its entire nuclear enterprise to safeguards administered by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Wassenaar Arrangement

Not a member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

IAEA approved India’s additional protocol on March 3, 2009. India ratified it in June 2014.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Partner

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Member

Proliferation Security Initiative

Not a participant.

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

Has filed reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and offered to host IAEA courses on physical security of nuclear facilities.

Back to Top

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

India developed nuclear weapons outside of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). India is estimated to have an arsenal of 120-130 nuclear warheads. India’s warheads have plutonium cores and are believed to be stored separately from their delivery systems. India is working to expand its fleet of ground-launched ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons and has several long-range ballistic missiles in development, including the Agni-V, a road- and rail-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that is expected to be in service by 2017. The Indian Navy likely introduced its first ballistic missile submarine, the INS Arihant, into service in late 2016, after it completed sea trials earlier that same year. India has conducted nuclear tests on three occasions, though it claimed the first one was a “peaceful” nuclear explosion. One test involved two simultaneous explosions while another involved three synchronized blasts.

Delivery Systems

Ballistic Missiles

The Indian Armed Services deploys nuclear-capable short-, medium- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles under the control of its Strategic Forces Command (SFC). The Agni Missile series is the mainstay of its ground-launched nuclear forces.  Many of India’s ballistic missiles have been developed as part of its ambitious Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), managed by the Indian Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). India is focused on developing longer-range ballistic missiles, including an ICBM, as well as the sea-based leg of a nuclear triad.

Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (range <1,000 km):

  • Prithvi-I – has an estimated range of 150 km. Uncertainty surrounds whether or not this missile is nuclear capable or conventional. It may have been fitted with a range of small nuclear warheads. This system may be replaced with the Prahaar short-range missile system.
  • Prahaar – is under development. It is believed to be able to carry a single nuclear or conventional payload. Its first successful test in July 2011 revealed an operational range of 150 km. This missile could be a replacement for the Prithvi-I.
  • Prithvi-II – is estimated to have a range of 250-350 km. US NASIC has estimated the range as 250 kilometers but Hans Krtistensen of the Federation of American Scientists assumes the range has probably been increased to about 350 kilometers (217 miles) as also stated by the Indian government. It can carry a single nuclear or conventional warhead. It is unclear if the Prithvi-II is still deployed as a nuclear-capable missile, given the development of the Agni series. The Prithvi-II failed some initial tests, but recent tests (2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016) have been deemed successful.
  • Prithvi-III – began development in 2000. It has an estimated range of 350+ km. When development is complete, it will be able to carry a single nuclear or conventional warhead. 
  • Dhanush - The naval version of the Prithvi-III is known as the Dhanush. Unlike the Prithvi-III, the Dhanush is liquid-fuelled and ship-launched. The Dhanush was first successfully tested on Oct. 5, 2012 and has been successfully tested on three more occasions in 2013, 2015, and 2016.
  • Shaurya – hypersonic land-based variant of the nuclear-capable K-15 submarine-launched ballistic missile; can carry a single conventional or nuclear warhead. A September 2011 test revealed a flight speed of 7.5 Mach and a range of 700 km. However, given the weight of its payload, the Shaurya’s range can be extended to well over 1,000 km, meaning it can achieve medium-range. The Shaurya has been listed as a hybrid missile. Although it is a ballistic missile, it is capable of maneuvering like a cruise missile and utilizing its air fins to cruise at sustained hypersonic speeds.  

Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (between 1,000-3,000 km):  

  • Agni-I – range between 700-1,200 km; can carry a single nuclear or conventional warhead. As of 2015, an estimated 20 launchers are deployed in western India near Pakistan and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) estimates, as of 2015, the India possesses a total of 80-100 Agni-I missilesAlthough its minimum range would classify the Agni-I as a short-range ballistic missile it can greatly extend its range by reducing its payload, thus earning it medium-range status.
  • Agni-II – an improved variant of the Agni-I; maximum range of 2,000 km + (some speculate it could, with modification, achieve a range of 3,500 km); can carry a single nuclear or conventional warhead. Around 10 launchers are estimated to be deployed in northern India as of 2015.The IISS’s 2015 estimates place India’s total number of Agni-II missiles at 20-25. The Agni-II's operational status is unclear, but it may have been inducted in 2011, and was last tested in April 2013.

Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (between 3,000-5,500 km):

  • Agni-III - approximate range of 3,200 km; can carry a single nuclear or conventional warhead. As of 2015, there are likely fewer than ten launchers. Entered military service in 2012, after performing successfully in three tests (July 2006, April 2007, and May 2008). In 2014, the Indian Ministry of Defense announced that the Agni-III was “in the arsenal of armed forces” and it was successfully test-fired in April 2015.  
  • Agni-IV- road- and rail-mobile missile; 3,500-4,000 km range; carries a single nuclear or conventional warhead. The Agni-IV is not believed to be operational and some speculate that the missile was designed as a technology demonstrator between the Agni-III and Agni-V rather than for operational deployment. The Agni-IV has been successfully test-fired on numerous occasions, most recently in January 2017. The Ministry of Defense announced after a successful 2014 test that the missile was ready for induction and production.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (>5,500 km):

  • Agni-V – under development; has a range of over 5,200 km (China claiming an operational range of 8,000 km, others claim 5,000 km [only intermediate-range]); can carry a single nuclear or conventional payload. Despite various claims to the contrary, the Agni-V is not believed to have the capability to carry multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads. Some claim the missile is intended to be operationalized in 2017. The Agni-V has been tested successfully a number of times, first in 2012 and then in 2013, 2015, and most recently in December 2016.
  • Agni-VI – nuclear-capable ICBM reportedly under development; a follow-up on the Agni-V. The Agni-VI may be armed with MIRVs, though confirmation of this does not exist. The government's Press Information Bureau website claimed in December 2016 that it will have a range of  8,000-10,000 km. 

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

Submarines:

  • The Indian Navy has developed two sea-based delivery systems for nuclear weapons: a submarine-launched system and a ship-launched system (as detailed above).
  • It is believed that, after three decades of development, India has finally deployed its first indigenously built ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), the INS Arihant, in August 2016, though this has not been publically confirmed. Development of the submarine began in 1984 and deployment of the submarine marks the successful completion of India’s triad. The first extensive sea trials of the INS Arihant began in December 2012 and it was announced in February 2016 that the submarine was fully-operational. This submarine is the first of the new nuclear-powered Arihant-class submarine. India has commissioned the construction of another 3 Arihant-class submarines of which one, the INS Aridhaman, is near completion and another is under construction.The Arihant is equipped with 12 launch tubes designed for the K-15 SLBM or can alternatively hold four K-4 SLBMs when they become deployable; the submarine will require modification to carry the K-4.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM):

  • India is currently developing its SLBM capabilities with its K-series missiles, a high-priority project of the DRDO. Against international pressure to curb its missile program, few details are available on these missiles as the SLBM program remains a tightly kept secret. India stores its warheads and delivery systems separately, but it remains unclear how India’s command and control structure will adapt to the submarine launched ballistic missiles, which require the warhead to be mated to the delivery system.
  • K-15 (Sagarika) - is a nuclear-capable SLBM under development. Once development is complete, it will be India's first SLBM. The K-15 is believed to have a 700 km range and no MIRV capabilities. The K-15 was first tested in 2004 and again in 2007, 2008 (10 total tests between 2004-08), 2013 and most recently in November 2015. It is the first of India’s K-series missiles.
  • K-4 - under development. Has been successfully flight tested at a range of 3,500 km in 2016. Some cite it can carry a conventional or nuclear payload. The first undersea launch of the K-4 was conducted in March 2014. There are claims that a K-5 missile is also under development. The K-5 missile would have a range of over 6,000 km (a high estimate of 10,000 km) with a capacity to carry 4 MIRVs. The K-5 would be the first MIRV equipped missile in India’s nuclear arsenal.   

Cruise Missiles

  • BrahMos – is a nuclear-capable land-attack cruise missile jointly developed between Russia and India. Its developers list its flight range at 290 km, however, most sources place its range at 300-500 km depending on which variant or launch platform is used. It can carry a single nuclear or conventional payload. The first successful launch of the BrahMos took place on June 12, 2001. The BrahMos is capable of being launched from land-based, ship-based, submarine-based, and now possibly air-launching systems.
  • Brahmos-II – is under development; a hypersonic version of the supersonic BrahMos. Due to Russia’s signatory status in the MTCR (limiting its ability to help other countries develop missiles with ranges over 300 km), the original striking-range of the BrahMos-II was planned at 290 km. However, now that India was inducted into MTCR in June 2016, the range of the BrahMos missiles are anticipated to be extended to 600 km. Flight tested in 2012. 
  • Nirbhay – under development; nuclear-capable land-attack cruise missile; estimated range of 800-1,000 km; can carry a single conventional or nuclear payload, although doubt surrounds its nuclear capability. Three of the last four tests (March 2013, October 2015, and December 2016) experienced difficulties and failed. It was successfully tested in October 2014 at a range of 1,000 km but even this test did not meet expectations. Following this test, it was announced that the first Nirbhays would be delivered in 2017. Four versions are reportedly being considered for development: land, air, ship, and submarine.  

Strategic Bombers

  • India’s Mirage 2000H, a French plane (also utilized by French nuclear forces), is known to be nuclear-capable and can deliver gravity-based nuclear bombs.
  • It is likely that the Jaguar IS fighter-bombers have been modified to deliver nuclear payloads, with two of the four squadrons suspected of having a secondary nuclear mission.
  • In June 2016, India’s Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet (a Russian aircraft) completed its first flight equipped with the nuclear-capable BrahMos and 40 of these aircraft are expected to be modified to carry the BrahMos.
  • India plans on upgrading its aging air force with newer aircraft that can potentially take over the air-based nuclear strike role. The prime contender is the French Rafale fighter jet. In September 2016, India signed an agreement with France for the delivery of 36 Rafale fighters by 2019 (down from its original plan to purchase 126 planes).   

Fissile Material

Plutonium

  • All of India’s nuclear weapons are plutonium-based.
  • According to material posted by the International Panel on Fissile Materials in 2016, India has approximately .59 ± .2metric tons  of plutonium available for nuclear weapons—enough to produce over 100 additional warheads—and up to another 5.1± 3 metric tons of reactor grade plutonium in spent fuel, which could be reprocessed for weapons use.
  • Much of its weapons-grade plutonium has been produced at its CIRUS reactor (shut down in 2010), and the Dhruva heavy-water reactor.
  • India has plans to build 6 fast-breeder reactors which would dramatically increase the speed at which India produces plutonium for its nuclear energy program. Two prototypes are expected to be fully functional by October 2017.
  • India agreed in 2006 to allow 14 of its 22 nuclear reactors to be monitored by the IAEA, and has since updated its plan to include an additional four reactors under safeguards.

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • India produces HEU—but not to weapons grade—to fuel the reactor cores for its nuclear submarine program. It is believed to be enriched to 30–45 percent uranium-235.
  • According to material posted by the International Panel on Fissile Materials in 2016, India’s HEU stockpile is approximately 3.2  1.1 tons. India enriches uranium at the RMP facility, which is being expanded.
  • India is planning to build an enrichment facility at Chitradurga for civilian and military purposes The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro), Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), and Indian Institute of Science (IISc) are all present in Chitradurga.

Proliferation Record

  • Under the U.S. “Atoms for Peace” initiative, India was a recipient of training and technological transfers intended for peaceful purposes but put to use in its nuclear weapons program. India’s first nuclear test was of a device derived partially from Canadian and U.S. exports designated for peaceful purposes.  That test spurred the United States and several other countries to create the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to more severely restrict global nuclear trade.
  • The U.S. helped secure a waiver for India on export restrictions of nuclear materials, causing some to allege that U.S. strategic interests lead Washington to turn a blind eye to proliferation concerns in India.
  • India’s modernization programs and general militarization has resulted in active commercial arms deals and exchanges of military technology with other countries. This has not been limited to the purchase of French and Russian fighter jets and is further exemplified by the joint Russian-Indian development of the BrahMos cruise missile.
  • Indian entities have been placed under nonproliferation sanctions numerous times. Beginning with the Indian Space Research Organization in 1992, the last entity, as of April 2017, to be placed under these sanctions was Balaji Amines in 2006 (sanctions lifted in 2008) under the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000.  
  • India is not a signatory to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Nuclear Doctrine

Indian nuclear planning has been largely based on an unofficial document released in 1999 by the National Security Advisory Board known as the draft nuclear doctrine. This document calls for India’s nuclear forces to be deployed on a triad of delivery vehicles of “aircraft, mobile land-based missiles and sea-based assets,” designed for “punitive retaliation.” Indian officials say the size of their nuclear stockpile is based on maintaining a “credible minimum deterrent” and that its abilities must enable an “adequate retaliatory capability should deterrence fail.”  However, India’s ability to retaliate with speed remains an inhibitor that they supplement by “assuring” retaliation, despite delays.  Although India reiterated in January 2003 that it would not use nuclear weapons against states that do not possess such arms and declared that nuclear weapons would only be used to retaliate against a nuclear attack, the government reserved the right to use nuclear weapons in response to biological or chemical weapons attacks.However, given the offensive restructuring of India’s nuclear forces, there has arisen recent debate whether or not India may be considering a “preemptive nuclear counterforce” doctrine.  

The expansion of India’s nuclear arsenal to the sea is expected to result in a shift in its nuclear doctrine. India’s nuclear warheads are believed to be stored in a disassembled state, with the fissile core kept separate from the warhead package. This practice greatly increases the time required to deploy the weapons. However, it remains to be seen how this command and control practice will adapt to India’s new submarine nuclear forces and whether or not this will result in a shift in its nuclear posture.

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Biological Weapons

  • India ratified the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) in 1974 and there is no evidence that suggests it has an offensive biological weapons program.
  • The Indian biotechnology private sector is highly sophisticated and the government conducts biodefense research through the DRDO.

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Chemical Weapons

  • India ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1996 and supports the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). India hosted the OPCW 12th Regional Meeting of National Authorities in Asia in 2014.
  • In 1992 India signed the India-Pakistan Agreement on Chemical Weapons for the “complete prohibition of chemical weapons.” Upon signing, both India and Pakistan declared that they did not possess chemical weapons—India lied. However, in 1999 and 2000, Pakistan accused India of launching chemical weapons into Pakistan, an accusation India has denied.  
  • In 1997, India declared 1,044 metric tons of sulfur mustard stockpiles. India completed destruction of its stockpile on schedule in 2009, becoming the third country to completely destroy its chemical weapons.
  • The State Department’s 2010 compliance report confirmed that “India completed destruction of its CW stockpile and that India is in compliance with its obligations under the CWC.” 

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Bilateral Talks with Pakistan

  • India-Pakistan non-Attack Agreement, entered into force in January 1991.
  • In 1992 India signed the India-Pakistan Agreement on Chemical Weapons for the “complete prohibition of chemical weapons.”
  • After their tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998, Pakistan and India volunteered to abstain from nuclear testing.
  • Established a hotline to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war and agreed to exchange advance notifications of ballistic missile flight tests.
  • In 2007, the fifth round of talks regarding the review of nuclear and ballistic missile-related confidence building measures took place as part of the Composite Dialogue Process.

Nuclear Security Summits
In April 2010, India attended the first Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC where participants included 47 countries, 38 of which were represented at the head of state or head of government level, and the heads of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union. At the summit, the participants unanimously adopted the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in the next four years. India has also attended the 2012 NSS in Seoul, the 2014 NSS in The Hague, and the 2016 NSS held again in Washington, DC where attendees developed action plans for five global organizations to continue the work of the summits.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
Established in 1979 as a multilateral disarmament negotiating forum by the international community, India has been a regular and active participant in the CD. India favors negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty that is “effectively verifiable,” which is a condition opposed by the United States. At the CD (and elsewhere), India has consistently called for general nuclear disarmament by all states.

Nuclear Cooperation Agreements

  • India has nuclear cooperation agreements with a number of states: the U.S., the U.K., Russia, France, Namibia, South Korea, Mongolia, Canada, Argentina, Kazakhstan, and Japan.
  • In 2014, India and Australia signed a civil nuclear agreement enabling the sale of Australian uranium to support India’s growing nuclear energy needs.

Civilian Nuclear Trade with India & the 123 Agreement
The United States signed a controversial agreement with India to repeal most U.S. and multilateral civilian nuclear trade restrictions on India. In 2006, Congress amended its own domestic legislation to allow nuclear trade with India to proceed. The two governments later concluded a “123 Agreement” (the U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement), which was approved by Congress and signed into law in October 2008 after India received a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) that September. However, current NSG guidelines include the prohibition of exports to countries that do not open all nuclear facilities to international inspections, such India and Pakistan. The United States has pushed for India to become a member of the NSG, but in January 2017, China and other countries blocked India's membership bid on the grounds that India has not yet signed the NPT.  

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Posted: July 6, 2017

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: China

November 2015

Updated: July 2017

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that China subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of China, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available here.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Six-Party Talks
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

---

1992

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

---

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

---

1989*

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

____

2009

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Biological Weapons Convention

---

1984

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

2010

*China stated that it will not be bound by the dispute settlement procedures in Paragraph 2, Article 17

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Not a member.  China, in 2004, applied for membership, but Beijing did not receive the necessary consensus approval of the group because the United States and some other countries continue to find fault with Chinese missile and technology exports. China says it abides by the MTCR guidelines.

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Not a member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Signatory, entered into force in 2002

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Participant

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Not a participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Not a participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

China has filed reports on activities to fulfill the resolutions

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
China does not publicly release information about the size of its nuclear arsenal. A July 2017 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report estimates that China possesses 270 warheads. China’s nuclear arsenal has been steadily increasing with respective figures placed at 240 in 2011 and 250 in 2013 and 260 in 2016.  China’s warheads are thought to be kept in storage under central control during times of peace. It is uncertain whether or not China possesses a non-strategic nuclear arsenal.

China's nuclear policy has been defined by possessing the minimum capabilities needed to deter a first strike from a potential aggressor.

Delivery Systems
Nuclear Modernization

  • China’s nuclear delivery systems are undergoing modernization programs, keeping with the modernization efforts of its People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Such efforts are viewed by Chinese leaders as essential for achieving great power status and advancing national interests and sovereign claims.
  • Hans M. Kristensen & Robert S. Norris report that, “The modernized force is more mobile, responsive, and accurate, and can overwhelm a limited US ballistic missile defense system." 
  • According to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), China continues to field new and more advanced nuclear delivery systems with improved range and destructive capability.
  • China’s decision to switch some of its missiles from liquid to solid fuel has improved their capabilities, in both range and promptness of launch. 

 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

  • China appears to maintain a minimal force of nuclear-armed ICBMs to ensure Beijing’s ability to execute a second strike.
  • Estimates place China as having around 143 nuclear-capable land-based missiles capable of delivering approximately 163 warheads. A 2016 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists report estimates that around 50-75 of these land-based missiles are ICBMs, whereas the DOD’s annual military power report on China in 2017  figures China's ICBM arsenal at around 75-100 ICBMs. Only 40-50 of China’s ICBMs are capable of targeting the continental United States. 
  • China’s ICBM arsenal contains:
    • DF-4 (CSS-3): ~10 missiles fixed with a single 3,300 kt warhead; 5,500+ km range. 
    • DF-5A (CSS-4, Mod 2): ~10 missiles fixed with a single 4,000-5,000 kt warhead; 13,000+ km range.
    • DF-5B (CSS-4, Mod 3): ~10 missiles fixed with three 200-300 kt multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs) warheads; ~12,000 km range. The DF-5B is a variant of the DF-5A upgraded to carry MIRVs.
    • DF-5C: on Jan. 31 2017, it was reported that China had flight tested the DF-5C, fixed with 10 warheads—a breakthrough in China’s nuclear weapons development. However, some experts are skeptical of this claim. The DF-5C is reported to be a two-stage, liquid-fueled missile with a range of around 8,000 miles (approximately 13,000 km).
    • DF-31 (CSS-10, Mod 1): ~8 missiles fixed with a single 200-300 kt warhead; 7,000+ km range.
    • DF-31A (CSS-10 Mod 2): ~25 missiles fixed with a single 200-300 kt warhead; 11,000+ km range.
    • DF-41: in development; flight-tested in 2016 with two MIRVs. It is a three-stage, solid propellant missile with an estimated range of 12,000-15,000 km and is believed to be able to carry up to ten warheads. The DF-41 is intended to replace the older liquid-fueled DF-5As.
  • China is in the process of replacing the older liquid-fueled missiles such as the DF-4 and DF-5A with the solid-fueled ICBMs.
  • In January 2017, the DF-41, never publically displayed before, was alleged to have been deployed at the Russian border, although many experts believe it has not completed development. 
  • China’s land-based missiles, both conventional and nuclear, are under the control of the PLA Rocket Force, a command of 100,000 personnel.

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

  • As of March 2017, China has a fleet of 4 Jin-class (Type 094) nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The Jin-class SSBNs are designed to carry the new JL-2 SLBMs.
  • An additional 4 Jin-class SSBNs have been commissioned and at least one is under construction.
  • China possesses two SLBM types:
    • JL-1 (CSS-NX-3): an unknown number of missiles fixed with a single 200-300 kt warhead; estimated range of 1,000+ km. JL-1 missiles are being replaced by JL-2s.
    • JL-2 (CSS-NX-14): a modified version of the DF-31 ICBM comprising around 48 missiles fixed with a single 200-300 kt warhead; estimated range of 7,000+ km but some estimates place the number at 8,000-9,000 km.
  • Five Jin-class submarines may enter service before China begins developing and fielding its next-generation SSBN, the Type 096, over the coming decade. The type 096 submarine is expected to carry both the JL-2 and a new missile, the JL-3, which is to be the JL-2’s anticipated successor.
  • Despite various claims to the contrary, it is unclear whether or not Chinese submarines have undergone any deterrent patrols. Beginning in early, 2015 it was reported that a Chinese SSBN has undergone a 95-day patrol. 

Strategic Bombers

  • China has begun to update its outdated nuclear-capable bomber fleet.
  • According to a DOD report, China continued, in 2015, to develop long-range bombers, including some that Chinese military analysts have described as “capable of performing strategic deterrence.”
  • The PLA air force was assigned a “strategic deterrence” mission in 2012.
  • As of December 2016, China’s fleet of nuclear-capable bombers consisted of about 20 Hong-6 (H-6) bombers based on Soviet designs, with a range of only 3,100+ km.  
  • The H-6 bombers are only capable of delivering an unspecified number of gravity-based bombs but are not believed to be assigned an active nuclear mission.
  • Media reports suggest that China may develop a new nuclear bomber capability in the future.
  • The PLA Air Force operates a fully redesigned H-6 variant known as the H-6k that has an extended range and is capable of carrying six land attack cruise missiles.
  • In March 2017 it was announced that the 5th generation Chengdu J-20 stealth fighter jet had entered into service, putting China one step closer to rivaling U.S. air superiority in East Asia.  

Fissile Material

  • Although China has not publicly declared a halt to the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, highly enriched uranium (HEU) and separated plutonium, general speculation is that Beijing has stopped its production. China is reported to have last produced HEU in 1989 and last produced separated plutonium in 1991.
  • The International Panel on Fissile Material's 2015 report estimates that China maintains a stockpile of 18 ± 4 metric tons of military HEU and 1.8 ± 0.5 metric tons of weapon-grade plutonium. At the present, the limited size of China’s military stockpile restricts its ability to produce more warheads.
  • China has not declared a civilian HEU stockpile and, as of 2016, maintains an estimated civilian plutonium stockpile of only 25.6 kg.

Proliferation Record

  • China has a record of assisting states with nuclear and missile programs in the past, but in 2000, China made a public commitment not to assist “in any way, any country in the development of ballistic missiles that can be used to deliver nuclear weapons.”
  • China has aided Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programs among other states. Iran, Libya, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia have also been identified as recipients of sensitive technologies and materials from China.
  • The China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC)—with government authorization—has exported Miniature Neutron Source Reactors (MNSR) to Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Ghana, and Nigeria. These reactors run on highly enriched uranium fuel, albeit a fraction of what is necessary for a nuclear warhead, which has been supplied by China to recipient states.
  • There have been efforts made by China to work with those states to convert these reactors to use low enriched uranium fuel, including a 2010 agreement between the U.S. Argonne National Laboratory and the China Institute of Atomic Energy for a new facility in China to produce LEU replacement cores in MNSR's.
  • Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) members, including the United States, saw enough improvement in China’s nuclear export behavior that they extended membership to China in 2004.
    • Nonetheless, China has sold reactors to Pakistan, as was revealed in a 2010 agreement between the two nations. This trade, however, contravenes NSG guidelines.
  • China’s bid to join the Missile Technology Control Regime failed in 2004, citing continuing concerns about Chinese missile and missile technology transactions. China, however, maintains that it voluntarily abides by the regime’s guidelines.
  • A 2016 State Department Compliance report cited that “in 2015, Chinese entities continued to supply missile programs of proliferation concern.”
  • Chinese entities have been regularly sanctioned for nonproliferation violations  by the U.S. government. For example, 2016 had seen a slew of Chinese entities sanctioned under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA) sanctions.
  • The United States has also, at various times, imposed sanctions on Chinese entities for missile and chemical weapons related transfers to Pakistan and Iran such as the provision of dual-use chemical weapons precursors and production equipment to Iran beginning in 1997.

Nuclear Doctrine
China was the first nuclear-weapon state to declare publicly that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons. Beijing has emphasized that this vow stands “at any time or under any circumstances.” However, the omission of China’s “No First Use” policy from its 2013 defense white paper caused considerable concern amongst U.S. analysts. Nevertheless, in its 2015 military strategy white paper it reaffirmed its no first use policy and further pledged not to engage in a nuclear arms race. The report also states,

China has always kept its nuclear capabilities at the minimum level required for maintaining its national security. China will optimize its nuclear force structure, improve strategic early warning, command and control, missile penetration, rapid reaction, and survivability and protection, and deter other countries from using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against China.

Regardless, some theorize that the modernization of China’s nuclear arsenal, its intent on increasing its nuclear warfare capabilities, and its posturing demonstrate a doctrine of counternuclear coercion or limited deterrence.

Testing:
China has conducted 45 nuclear tests. The first test occurred Oct. 16, 1964, and the last test took place July 29, 1996.

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Biological Weapons

  • China contends it is in compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) despite U.S. allegations asserting the contrary. U.S. State Department compliance assessment reports have said that China possessed an offensive biological weapons capability prior to joining the BWC in 1984.
  • The 2015 report indicates that China "engaged during the reporting period in biological activities with potential dual-use applications. However, the information did not establish that China is engaged in activities prohibited by the BWC."

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Chemical Weapons

  • China has declared that it has destroyed all chemical weapon agent production facilities and solely conducts defensive chemical warfare research.
  • Beijing’s official position emphasizes the complete prohibition and destruction of chemical weapons. In the past, the U.S. government has alleged that China may be violating its Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) commitments by secretly pursuing chemical weapons programs.
  • The State Department’s 2010 compliance report concluded that “Available information does not allow the United States to confirm whether China has fully declared or explained its historical CW [chemical weapon] activities, including CW production, disposition of produced CW agents, and transfer of CW agents to another country.”
  • China inherited approximately 700,000 abandoned chemical weapon (ACW) munitions from the Imperial Japanese Army at the end of World War II. Many of these ACWs are not easily located or properly stored; many of them are buried.
  • Japan, as of 2017, continues to jointly work with China to destroy these ACWs. This has been the largest chemical weapon destruction effort in history. Destruction began in March 2010. 
  • In November 2014, the Chinese Foreign Ministry urged Japan to speed up the destruction process.
  • As of December 2014, 50,800 ACWs had been recovered in China, of which 37,373 were verifiably destroyed. 

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
At the 65-member CD, China expressed support for negotiation of an “effectively verifiable” fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT) while declaring its top priority to be the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS). Chinese insistence that the conference take some action on the outer space issue in parallel with any negotiations on a cutoff treaty and the U.S. opposition to that approach has, as of 2017, stalemated the conference over the past several years. In 2003, China said it would accept discussions on outer space rather than formal negotiations but that formulation remained unacceptable to the United States. China, however, did not agree to a 2007 compromise formula, including talks on outer space, which the United States said it would not oppose. China refused to participate in Australian and Japanese-led side meetings at the CD in 2011, insisting that the CD was the only proper conduit for FMCT negotiations. The U.S. has stated that the lack of support by China and other key countries resulted in the failure of the side meetings to make progress. China believes that a FMCT should not restrict the use of existing fissile material for weapons purposes.

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
China has ratified additional protocols to the Latin American and Caribbean, South Pacific, African, and Central Asian nuclear weapons free zone treaties pledging not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the treaty’s member states. However, China maintains a reservation to additional Protocol II of the South Pacific nuclear weapons free zone. It has not ratified the Southeast Asia nuclear weapons free zone treaty.   

Nuclear Security Summits
Chinese participation in the Nuclear Security Summits includes the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC, the 2012 NSS in Seoul, the 2014 NSS in The Hague, and the 2016 NSS held again in Washington, DC. China plays an active role in these summits and in the 2014 NSS, President Xi Jinping put forward a Chinese approach to nuclear security for the first time.

Six-Party Talks
China has played a key role in hosting and helping mediate the so-called  six-party talks  to achieve North Korea’s nuclear disarmament as a direct result of its withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Although those talks broke down in 2008 and have yet to resume, China maintains that they remain an effective mechanism for achieving disarmament in North Korea.  However, amidst mounting pressure and criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration for China to take charge of the North Korean threat, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang stated, in February 2017, that “We have said many times already that the crux of the North Korean nuclear issue is the problem between the United States and North Korea,” and that “The Trump White House needs to make the first move and talk to Pyongyang.”

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Ation (JCPOA)
As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China took part in the negotiation of the July 2015 JCPOA, which limits and rolls back Iran’s nuclear program. Despite being somewhat of a “quiet negotiator” in these talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi expressed, at the conclusion of negotiation, that “at some important points when the negotiation met with the difficulties and reached the deadlocks, China had actively explored ideas and approaches to resolve the problems and put forward its own solutions from a perspective taking into consideration of the common interests of all parties.”

On Jan. 18, 2017, Deputy Permanent Representative of the People's Republic of China to the United Nations Wu Haitao reaffirmed China’s commitment to the implementation of JCPOA amid skepticism about the commitment of certain states party to the agreement. Haitao also stated that “all parties should stick to their political commitments and fend off outside interference, so as to stay the course in the implementation…they should act in good faith and properly solve technical divergences through consultations, on an equal footing, in the quest for a long-term, sustainable solution.”

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Posted: July 6, 2017

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Syria

October 2013

Updated: June 2017

Syria is a non-nuclear weapons state with an advanced chemical weapons program and a suspected biological weapons capability. Due to its past interest in acquiring a nuclear capability and since destroyed plutonium reactor, it poses a nuclear proliferation risk. It has a missile inventory of short-range ballistic and cruise missiles that has decreased significantly since the start of the civil war.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Chemical Weapons

  • The Arsenal, an Overview
  • Chemical Weapons Use and International Response

Biological Weapons

Missiles

  • Ballistic Missiles
  • Cruise Missiles

Past Nuclear Weapon Program Proliferation Record

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Additional Resources on Syria

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

1968

1969

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

---

---

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

---

---

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

---

---

Chemical Weapons Convention

____

2013*

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

---

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

---

*Syria sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General on September 12, 2013, which said that Assad signed a presidential decree allowing Syria's accession to the CWC. Normally, the treaty enters into force 30 days after the deposit of the instrument of ratification, but Syria indicated in the letter that it would begin implementation of the treaty's obligations immediately.

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Not a member

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Not a member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Not a member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Syria has not negotiated such an agreement

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Not a participant

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Not a participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Not a participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

Syria has filed reports on its activists to fulfill the resolutions

Chemical Weapons

The Arsenal, an Overview

  • In July 2012, the Syrian government publicly acknowledged the existence of its chemical stockpile for the first time. The spokesman said Syria would only use such weapons in the event of foreign intervention in the armed conflict between the government and domestic opposition forces.
  • According to a 2011 report to Congress, on the acquisition of technology relating to WMDs, the National Director of Intelligence said that Syria’s stockpile is deliverable by “aerial bombs, ballistic missiles, and artillery rockets.”
  • Syria committed to eliminate its chemical weapons stockpile when it joined the Chemical Weapons Convention in 2013 but experts are skeptical that Syria declared all of its weapons for elimination.

Chemical Weapon Use and International Response

  • The Syrians have used chemical weapons including sarin, chlorine gas, and sulfur mustard, throughout the duration of the Syrian civil war. Despite international efforts to control and eliminate Syria’s stockpile, reports continue to surface of chemical weapon use.
  • In March 2013, after reports of three instances of chemical weapons use, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon established the OPCW Fact Finding Mission to investigate the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but not to determine who was responsible for the attacks.
  • On August 21, 2013, reports indicated that a large chemical weapons attack took place in the suburbs of the Ghouta region, an area controlled by rebel fighters. Estimates place the number of casualties at well over 1,000 and many of the victims as non-combatants.
  • Amid calls for military intervention in response to chemical weapons use in Ghouta, in September 2013, Russia proposed eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal and having Syria join the CWC in exchange for no U.S. military strikes.
  • In September 2013, Syria sent a letter to the UN declaring it had acceded to the CWC. It submitted a declaration of its chemical weapons stockpile, amounting to about 1,300 tons of 20 different chemicals, as well as 12 chemical weapons storage facilities, and a plan for elimination shortly thereafter.
  • The OPCW found in 2015 that Syria had not declared the entirety of its chemical weapons stockpile in 2013, after reports of chemical weapons use continued to surface in 2014.
  • UN Security Council Resolution 2235, adopted August 7, 2015, established the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism to determine the entities responsible for the use of chemical weapons in Syria. 
  • On January 4, 2016, the OPCW declared that all declared Syrian chemical weapons stockpiles had been destroyed. 
  • In August 2016, the third report of the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism found that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical weapons attacks in April 2014 and in March 2015 and that the Islamic State was responsible for a chemical weapons attack in August 2015.
  • In April 2017, chemical weapons, likely sarin-filled munitions, were used in an attack that killed dozens of people in Syria’s northern Idlib province, prompting a U.S. strike on a Syrian air base.
  • The UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism is continuing to investigate additional attacks and responsible actors.
  • See the Timeline of Syrian Chemical Weapons Activity for more information.

Biological Weapons

  • In July 2012, a spokesman for the Syrian Foreign Ministry confirmed that the country possesses biological warfare materials, but little is known about the extent of the arsenal. As a signatory of the Biological Weapons Convention, possession of biological weapons would be against customary international law.
  • The U.S. Director of National Intelligence’s annual report on the acquisition of materials related to WMD production in 2011 confirms that the country’s biotechnical infrastructure could support the development of biological weapons. 
  • On July 14, 2014, Syria declared the existence of production facilities and stockpiles of purified ricin, although little is known about the continued existence of such facilities in 2017. Ricin is a bio-toxin that is lethal if ingested or inhaled.

Missiles

Ballistic Missiles 

  • Syria’s missile inventory has decreased dramatically since the beginning of the civil war in 2012 and updated information is limited. By 2015, over 90 percent of its missile stockpile had been used, according to an Israeli source.
  • While Syria’s domestic capability to produce liquid-fueled ballistic missiles is improving, it still relies on foreign suppliers, such as Iran and North Korea, for key technology. Reportedly, in the late 1980s, Syria attempted to buy more accurate missiles from China, but there are conflicting reports as to whether or not Beijing ever delivered the weapons.
  • As of August 2012, Syria’s exclusively short-range ballistic missile inventory included:
    • SS-21-B (Scarab-B): Battlefield short-range, road mobile ballistic missile with an estimated range of 120km.
    • SS-1-C (Scud-B): Short-range road mobile ballistic missile with an estimated range of 300km.
    • SS-1-D (Scud-C): Short-range road mobile ballistic missile with an estimated range of 500-700km.
    • SS-1-E (Scud –D): Short-range road mobile ballistic missile with an estimated range of 700km.
    • CSS-8 (Fateh 110A): short-range road mobile ballistic missile with a range of 210-250km.

Cruise Missiles 

  • Syria is known to possess several highly accurate anti-ship cruise missiles that could carry chemical warheads including:
    • SS-N-3B Sepal (SS-C-1B): Submarine-launched cruise missile with an estimated range of 300-400km.
    • SS-N-2C Styx (SS-C-3): Submarine-launched cruise missile with an estimated range of 80km.
    • SS-N-26: Land-launched cruise missile with an estimated range of 300km.

Past Nuclear Weapons Program

  • Syria currently does not possess nuclear weapons or fissile material stockpiles that could be utilized for a nuclear weapons program although it covertly pursued a nuclear reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.
  • It is widely assumed that Syria cooperated with North Korea to build a reactor that could produce plutonium for weapons. However, an Israeli airstrike destroyed the Dair al Zour facility near Al Kibar in 2007 before it became operational. Syria claims that the destroyed site was not a nuclear facility.
  • Syria does possess a Chinese supplied research reactor that is currently under IAEA safeguards and is estimated to contain less than 1 kilogram of highly-enriched uranium. The IAEA still has unanswered questions about the reactor but has little access to it due first to Syrian resistance and then the civil war.

Proliferation Record

  • Given Syria’s domestic capability to produce ballistic missiles with little foreign assistance and their suspected ties with terrorist organizations, the United States has expressed concern that the country could pose a risk for proliferating its ballistic missiles and technology to others.
  • Syria has also attempted to purchase dual-use materials illicitly to advance its programs. In 2007, a shipment of U.S. origin equipment relevant for testing ballistic missile components was interdicted en route to Syria.
  • It is widely held that Syria acts as a transit country for Iranian armaments to the Shia militant group, Hezbollah, which operates out of southern Lebanon. 
  • Israel accused Syria of supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles, although this has not been confirmed.
  • Given the current armed conflict in Syria, the international community also is concerned that advanced conventional armaments or chemical weapons could be knowingly or unknowingly trafficked out of the country to non-state actors.

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty

  • In 2010, Syria was one of two countries that abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly resolution that urged the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to begin negotiations on “a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”, or Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). Syria was one of seven countries to abstain from a similar UN General Assembly resolution in 2016. 
  • At the 2012 Conference on Disarmament, Syria advocated against negotiating a FMCT, stating that the issue was not ready for negotiations, and that the CD should instead focus on nuclear disarmament.

WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East

  • Syria has consistently supported UN resolutions and NPT actions on establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East despite its use of chemical weapons and suspicions about a past covert nuclear weapons program.  

Iran Nonproliferation Act

  • In 2005, the United States added Syria to the Iran Nonproliferation Act, legislation designed to prevent Iran from obtaining technology related to weapons of mass destruction, missiles, and other conventional armaments.

Additional Resources on Syria

1) Factsheet: Timeline of Syria Chemical Weapons Activity 

2) News: U.S. Says Chemical Weapons Used in Syria 

3) News: Plan Set to Rid Syria of Chemical Arms 

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Posted: June 26, 2017

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: The United States

May 2017

Updated: May 2017

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that the United States subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of the United States, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available here.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Nuclear Doctrine
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • New START
  • Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
  • Civilian Nuclear Trade with India & the 123 Agreement
  • Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Syrian Chemical Weapons
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

1968

1970

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

- - -

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1980

1982

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

- - -

2015

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1975

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

2015

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Member

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Signed in 1998, entered into force January, 2009.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Co-founder with Russia

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Founder

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

The United States has filed reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states.

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

Under President Barack Obama, the United States began declassifying the size of its military nuclear stockpile. The most recent update provided by the Obama administration in January 2017 indicates that, as of September 30, 2016, the United States had 4,018 nuclear warheads in its military stockpile, including tactical, strategic, and non-deployed weapons. The administration also announced that an additional 2,800 retired warheads are awaiting dismantlement, putting the total size of the U.S. warhead stockpile at 6,800 warheads. While the United States and Russia maintain similarly sized total arsenals, the United States possesses a much larger number of strategic warheads and delivery systems while Russia possesses a much larger number of non-strategic (or tactical) nuclear warheads.

Under the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), the United States will reduce its deployed treaty accountable strategic warheads to 1,550 by the treaty implementation deadline of 2018. According to the April 2017 New START data exchange, the United States has 1,411 strategic nuclear warheads deployed on 673 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and strategic bombers. However, these numbers may be artificially low due to a temporary fluctuation in deployed and non-deployed weapons at the time of the exchange. The United States also deploys an additional 150-200 tactical nuclear warheads based in Europe. 

The United States has conducted 1,030 total nuclear tests, far more than any other nuclear-armed state. The United States is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons against another country, dropping two bombs (one apiece) on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Delivery Systems

(For a detailed overview of current and planned U.S. nuclear modernization programs, see our fact sheet here.)

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

  •  The United States Air Force deploys approximately 400 LGM-30G Minuteman III ICBMs.
    • The Minuteman III has a range of over 6,000 miles (9,650-13,000 km).
    • Each missile is equipped with either one 300 kt W87 warhead or one 335 kt W78 warhead.
  • In the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Obama administration decided to “de-MIRV” the missiles, removing the second and third warhead deployed on some of the Minuteman IIIs. This process was completed in June 2014.
  • Under New START, the United States plans to reduce the number of deployed ICBMs from 450 to 400. The 50 excess silos will not be destroyed but kept “warm” to accommodate missiles if necessary.
  • In 2015, the United States concluded a multibillion dollar, decade-long modernization program that will extend the service life of the Minuteman III to beyond 2030.  

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

Ohio-class submarines

  • The U.S. Navy operates 14 Ohio-class SSBNs submarines, two of which are undergoing overhaul of their nuclear reactors at any given time. The remaining 12 are available for deployment. However, since some operational SSBNs also undergo minor repairs at any given time the actual number of SSBNs at sea usually numbers at around 10.
  • 7 submarines are based out of Bangor, Washington and 5 submarines are based out of Kings Bay, Georgia.
  • The submarines have 24 missile tubes for Trident II D5 SLBMs. Under New START, the Navy has begun to deactivate 4 tubes on each submarine; a process scheduled for completion in early 2017.
  • The Ohio-class submarines have a life-span of 42 years.

Trident II D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile

  • The Trident II D5 was first deployed in 1990.
  • The Trident II D5 has an operational range of 7,400-12,000 km.
  • The Trident II D5 missile can hold up to eight warheads (but usually holds an average of four to five) and carries 3 variants:
    • the W88—a 475 kt MIRV warhead.
    • the W76-0—a 100 kt MIRV warhead.
    • the W76-1—a 100 kt MIRV warhead.
  • Under New START, the Navy will deploy 240 missiles armed with about 1,100 warheads.
  • An ongoing life extension program is expected to keep the Trident II D5 in service until  2042.
  • The Trident II D5 is the only MIRV’ed strategic missile remaining in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Bombers

  • The Air Force operates 70 nuclear-capable B-52H Stratofortress bombers and 18 nuclear-capable B-2A Spirit bombers.
  • The Air Force will deploy no more than 60 nuclear-capable strategic bombers under New START.
  • An estimated 1,038 nuclear weapons are assigned to the strategic bombers, but only about 300 are typically deployed at bomber bases.
    • B-52H Stratofortress bombers: dual-capable; can carry 20 AGM-86B cruise missiles. The AGM-86B has a range of 2,500 km and is equipped with a 5-150 kt W80-1 warhead
    • B-2A Spirit bombers: dual capable; can carry 16 B61-7, B61-11, or B83-1 gravity bombs.
  • The United States also maintains several fighter-aircraft that serve in a dual-capable role. The F-15E and F-16C have been the cornerstone of this aspect of nuclear deterrence, carrying the B61 gravity bomb. The new stealth F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, will replace the F-16 as the U.S. Air Force’s primary nuclear capable fighter-aircraft.

Nuclear Doctrine

In April 2009, President Obama declared in a speech in Prague that it was the policy of the United States “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” In the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Obama administration announced that it “will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapons states that are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and in compliance with their nuclear non-proliferation obligations.” The administration reserved the right to make any adjustments to this assurance “that may be warranted by the evolution and proliferation of the biological weapons threat.” The President was not prepared to make a declaration that the “sole purpose” of its nuclear weapons was to deter a nuclear attack, but added that it would “work to establish conditions under which such a policy could be safely adopted.”

News reports indicated that the Obama administration during its last year in office considered adjusting U.S. nuclear declaratory policy to state that the United States will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. In a January 11, 2017, speech in Washington, Vice President Joe Biden said that both he and Obama strongly believe that the sole purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons should be to deter a nuclear attack against the United States or its allies. But the President reportedly decided not to adopt a no-first-use or sole purpose policy due to concerns expressed by some members of his cabinet and close U.S. allies.

In January 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order calling on the Defense Department to initiate a new NPR in order to “ensure that the United States nuclear deterrent is modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st-century threats.”

Fissile Material

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • The United States has publicly declared that it no longer produces fissile material for weapons purposes. It stopped production of HEU in 1992.
  • In March 2016, the United States announced the declassification of its national inventory of highly enriched uranium (HEU), as of September 30, 2013.
  • The United States halted the production of HEU for weapons in 1964 and ceased plutonium separation for weapons in 1992.
  • Estimates from 2016 place the U.S. HEU stockpile at around 600 metric tons, including 253 metric tons of military HEU and 264 metric tons of fresh and spent naval HEU.
  • According to the 2015 Global Fissile Material Report, the United States has about 40 metric tons of HEU remaining to be downblended of the 187 metric tons it declared as excess to defense requirements and has committed to dispose.

Plutonium

  • The United States ended production of separated plutonium in 1988.
  • At the end of 2014, U.S. military plutonium stockpiles amounted to a total of 87.6 declared metric tons (49.3 metric tons of which are declared as excess military plutonium).
  • In October 2016, citing U.S. failure to meet its obligations under the agreement, Russia suspended its own implementation of the deal. Russia refuses to resume the agreement’s implementation until U.S. sanctions against Russia are lifted and NATO forces in Europe are reorganized along lines favorable to Russia. Russia contends that U.S. plans to abandon the conversion of plutonium into MOX fuel in favor of a cheaper and faster downblending method does not meet the terms of the deal because doing so would fail to change the composition of the plutonium from weapons grade to reactor grade. 
  • The United States possesses no separated civilian plutonium but at the end of 2014, an estimated 625 metric tons of plutonium were contained in spent fuel stored at civilian reactor sites.
  • Under the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA), finalized with Russia in 2000, the United States committed to disposing of 34 metric tons of excess weapons-grade plutonium by 2018. The agreement was amended in 2010 to change the agreed disposition methods in which Russia abandoned using mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in light-water reactors in favor or irradiating plutonium in its fast-neutron reactors. The amendment also expressed renewed U.S. commitment to provide $400 million towards the Russian disposition program.

 Proliferation Record

  • A close relationship exists between U.S. and British nuclear weapons programs. The United States supplies the United Kingdom with the Trident II D5 SLBM.
  • Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey all host U.S. tactical nuclear gravity bombs as part of NATO nuclear sharing agreements. The estimated 180 weapons remain under U.S. custody during peacetime, but some may be released to U.S. allies for delivery in times of war.
  • Beginning with President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 “Atoms for Peace” initiative, the United States has engaged in extensive worldwide trading and exchanging of fissile materials and technical information for nuclear science research and the peaceful use of nuclear technology. In 1954, an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act allowed bilateral nuclear agreements with U.S. allies to proceed, with the intent of exporting only low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel; however, this soon expanded to include HEU.
  • Under the “Atoms for Peace” program a number of former, aspiring, and current nuclear weapon-states such as South Africa, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Israel all received, directly or indirectly, training and technology transfers utilized in their nuclear weapons programs. For example, in 1967, the United States supplied Iran with a 5 megawatt nuclear research reactor along with HEU fuel. Iran admitted to using the reactor in the early 1990s for the production of small amounts of Polonium-210, a radioactive substance capable of starting a chain reaction inside a nuclear weapon.
  • Since the end of the Cold War the United States has tried to mitigate the adverse effects of the “Atoms for Peace” initiative and returned exported HEU and plutonium to the United States.

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Biological Weapons

  • In the early 1970s, the United States destroyed its entire stockpile of biological weapons, which had been developed between 1943 and 1969.
  • In 2001, the Bush administration opposed and killed an effort dating back to 1995 to augment the Biological Weapons Convention with a legally binding verification protocol. U.S. officials said the protocol would be too burdensome on legitimate governments and private biodefense programs, while at the same time failing to deter cheaters.
  • According to a 2016 State Department report, “In December 2015 at the annual Meeting of States Parties to the BWC, the delegation of the Russian Federation asserted that the United States had knowingly transferred live anthrax spores to a foreign country for use in open-air testing, and that this constituted a ‘grave violation’ of Articles III and IV of the BWC [Biological Weapons Convention].”
  • The United States maintains that these transfers were a blunder. The report also notes that, “All U.S. activities during the reporting period were consistent with the obligations set forth in the BWC. The United States continues to work toward enhancing transparency of biological defense work using the BWC confidence building measures.”

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Chemical Weapons

  • Behind Russia, the United States has declared the second-largest stockpile of chemical agents.
  • As of Nov. 30, 2014 the United States had destroyed 24,924 metric tons, or 90 percent, of its total category 1 chemical weapons stockpile. The United States has completed destruction of all its Category 2 and 3 chemical weapons. 
  • Due to environmental concerns requiring that materials at certain facilities be neutralized rather than incinerated, the United States does not expect to complete destruction until 2021, nine years after the Chemical Weapons Convention deadline. However, in March 2017, Conrad Whyne, chief of the Defense Department’s Program Executive Office, Assembled Chemical Weapons Alternatives, stated that all chemical weapons will be destroyed by 2023. Destruction of the United States’ largest remaining stockpile of chemical weapons began in March of 2015 at Colorado’s Pueblo Chemical Depot. Upon completion, the Blue Grass Army Depot in Richmond, Kentucky will have the last remaining chemical agent stockpile in the United States.

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities  

New START
In April 2010, the United States and Russia signed a successor agreement to the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) accord. The 2010 agreement, known as New START, commenced on Feb. 5, 2011. It requires that both sides reduce their arsenals to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons on no more than 700 ICMBs, SLMBs, and bombers by 2018. In addition, it contains rigorous monitoring and verification provisions to ensure compliance with the agreement. President Donald Trump has repeatedly questioned the value of New START, calling it a “one-sided” agreement.

Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
In February 2013, President Obama announced that the United States intended to engage with Russia to further reduce deployed strategic warheads by one-third below the New START limit to around 1,100 to 1,000 deployed warheads. However, there has been little progress toward achieving such reductions due to the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russia’s insistence that other issues, such as limits on U.S. missile defenses, be part of negotiations on further reductions.

Civilian Nuclear Trade with India & the 123 Agreement
In July 2005, the United States signed a controversial agreement with India to repeal most U.S. and multilateral civilian nuclear trade restrictions on India. In 2006, Congress amended its own domestic legislation to allow nuclear trade with India to proceed. The two governments later concluded a “123 Agreement,” which was approved by Congress and signed into law in October 2008. In September 2008, India received a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). The United States has pushed for India to become a member of the NSG, but in January 2017, China and other countries blocked India's membership bid on the grounds that India has not yet signed the NPT.

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
The United States has ratified a protocol to the Latin America and the Caribbean Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) treaty pledging not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the contracting parties. The U.S. has declined to ratify similar additional protocols to any of the remaining NWFZ treaties for Africa, Central Asia, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. 

Nuclear Security Summits
In April 2010, the United States hosted the first Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC. Participants included 47 countries, 38 of which were represented at the head of state or head of government level, and the heads of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union. At the summit, the participants unanimously adopted the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in the next four years. The United States also attended the NSS in Seoul, South Korea, on March 26-27, 2012 and the third NSS on Mar. 24-25, 2014. Washington hosted a fourth summit in the Spring of 2016 where attendees developed action plans for five global organizations to continue the work of the summits.

Syrian Chemical Weapons
In September 2013, in the aftermath of the large-scale use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, United States reached an agreement with Russia to account, inspect, control, and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. Before the deal was reached, the United States was planning to use airstrikes to punish the perpetrators of the attack, which the United States blamed on the Syrian government. By July 2014, Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile had been successfully removed from the country and flagged for destruction following a broad multilateral operation. However, the United States has raised concerns about the accuracy of Syria’s declaration.

In September 2014, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that chlorine gas was being used in Syria. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Mar. 6, 2015 condemning the use of chlorine gas in Syria. Secretary of State John Kerry was quick to suggest that the Assad regime was the likely perpetrator of the chlorine gas attacks; Russia, however, was hesitant to assign blame. In August 2016, the third report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism was released, finding that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical weapons attacks.

In April 2017, another chemical weapon attack was carried out in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun where Syrian government warplanes were accused of spreading a nerve agent via bombs, killing dozens. U.S. President Donald Trump responded by immediately blaming the regime of Bashar Assad and launching 59 Tomahawk missiles targeting the airfield that had allegedly launched the. Following the launches, Trump stated that “It is in this vital national security of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.” As a justification for the U.S. response, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated that “If you violate international agreements, if you fail to live up to commitments, if you become a threat to others, at some point a response is likely to be undertaken.”   

(For a detailed timeline on Syrian chemical weapons, see our fact sheet here.)

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
Under the Obama administration the United States played the central role in the brokering of the July 2015 JCPOA, better known as the “Iran deal,” which limits and rolls back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting economic sanctions. Congress in September 2015 debated a resolution that would have blocked implementation of the accord, but it failed to receive enough votes to pass the Senate. In January 2016, financial and oil sanctions on Iran were lifted along with the release of $100 billion worth of frozen Iranian assets after international inspectors confirmed that Iran had rolled back large sections of its nuclear program. In an effort to preserve the deal before leaving office, the Obama administration worked to fend off additional sanctions and encouraged American companies to conduct business in Iran.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the agreement. During the presidential campaign, he made comments about “tearing up” the deal. On Feb. 1, 2017 then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn put Iran “on notice” following its testing of a ballistic missile.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)

Established in 1979 as a multilateral disarmament negotiating forum by the international community, the United States has been a regular and active participant in the CD. At the 65-member CD, the United States has expressed support for continuing disucssions on the CD's core issues: nuclear disarmament, a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT), prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS), and negative security assurances. The United States has been a prominent supporter of a proposed FMCT.

In March 1995, the CD took up The Shannon Mandate which established an ad hoc committee directed to negotiate an FMCT by the end of the 1995 session. A lack of consensus over verification provisions, as well as desires to hold parallel negotiations on outer space arms control issues, prevented negotiations from getting underway. Later, in May 2006, the United States introduced a draft FMCT along with a draft mandate for its negotiations. However, following an impasse in negotiations on a FMCT in 2010, the United States (and others) signaled its desire to look at alternative approaches outside the CD and called for negotiations to be moved to the United Nations General Assembly where the agreement could be endorsed by a majority vote. However, the United States no longer makes comments to this effect.

 The United States does not support negotiations on PAROS, deeming it unnecessary because there are no weapons yet deployed in outer space. China and Russia continue to articulate a desre to hold parallel negotiations, a point which has further stalled efforts to begin FMCT negotiations.

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Posted: April 1, 2017

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Russia

March 2017

Updated: March 2017

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that Russia subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of Russia, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available here.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Nuclear Doctrine
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • New START
  • Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Syrian Chemical Weapons
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

1968

1970

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

2000

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1980

1983

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

---

2008

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1975

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

2007

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member, but Russia claims to adhere to the group’s rules and control list

Missile Technology Control Regime

Member

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Signed in 2000, entered into force in 2007

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Co-founder with the United States

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

Russia has filed reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

According to the April 2017 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) data exchange, Russia has 1,765 strategic warheads deployed on 523 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and strategic bombers. Under New START, Russia is required to reduce its deployed treaty accountable warheads to 1,550 by 2018. As of 2017, the Federation of American Scientists estimated that Russia possesses a nuclear arsenal consisting of a total of 7,000 warheads, including approximately 700 strategic warheads in reserve, roughly 2,000 tactical warheads, and approximately 2,510 warheads that have been retired and are awaiting dismantlement.

Delivery Systems

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

  • As of 2016, Russia’s estimated 316 ICBMs, which carry approximately 1,076 warheads, include the:
    • RS-12M - three variants: ninety RS-12M (Topol [SS-25 Sickle]), eighteen mobile RS-12M1 (Topol-M [SS-27 Mod 1]), and sixty silo RS-12M2 (Topol-M [SS-27 Mod 1]); each carries a single 800 kt warhead, 10,500-11,000 km range.
    • RS-24 Yars (SS-27 Mod 2) - mobile and silo versions, 70 mobile missiles and 12 silo missiles, each carries four 100kt MIRV warheads, 10,500 km range.
    • RS-18 (SS-19 Stiletto) – 20 missiles, each carries six 400 kt multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs), 10,000 km range.
    • RS-20V (SS-18 Satan) – 46 missiles, each carries ten 500-800 kt MIRV warheads, 10,200-16,000 km range.
    • RS-26 Rubezh - development in progress. A successful May 2012 test displayed an operational range of 5,800 km. It is unknown whether the Rubezh will carry a single warhead or MIRVs.
    • RS-28 (SS-30 Sarmat) - dubbed the “Son of Satan” or “Satan 2”, Russia is currently developing the RS-28 to replace the RS-20V by the end of the decade, with deployment expected to occur in the early 2020s. It is reportedly being developed by the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau, also known as the State Rocket Center (SRC) Makayev. The Sarmat is expected to be equipped with 10 MIRVs, though some sources list an exaggerated 15 MIRVs.
    • Barguzin - Russian defense officials have indicated that a rail-based version of the SS-27 Mod 2 (intended to revive and upstage the former Soviet nuclear trains), called the Barguzin, is in the early stages of design development. Russia successfully completed an ejection test in November 2016 and expects to that nuclear trains will enter into service between 2018 and 2020 and that they will remain in service until 2040.  
  • All of Russia’s ICBMs were developed and entered service from the 1980’s to the 1990’s with the exception of the RS-24 which entered service in 2010 and RS-26 and Rs-28 which are still under development.
  • While the number of Russian ICBMs is set to fall below 300 by the early 2020s, Russia is currently modernizing its land-based missiles and plans to increase the share of missiles equipped with multiple warheads.  

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM)

Submarines:

  • Russia is capable of delivering up to 768 warheads through 6 Delta IV submarines, 3 Delta III submarines (only two of which were operational as of 2016—the other was undergoing overhaul), and 3 of the new Borey-class submarines (Russia is developing five upgraded Borey-A class submarines to be delivered by the mid-2020s to replace ageing Delta III and IV submarines).
    • Delta IV - part of Russia’s Northern Fleet, armed with 16 RSM-54 Sineva (SS-N-23 Skiff) missiles, reportedly upgraded to carry the new R-29RMU2 Layner missiles (a modified Sineva missile).The Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau was contracted to develop the R-29RMU2.
    • Delta III - part of Russia’s Pacific Fleet, armed with 16 RSM-50 Volna (SS-N-18 Stingray) missiles.
    • Borey class and Borey-A class –armed with 16 RSM-56 Bulava missiles.

Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM):

  • Russia’s submarine-launched ballistic missiles include the RSM-50, RSM-54, RSM-56, and reportedly the R-29RMU2.
    • RSM-50 - deployed in 1978, equipped with three 50kt MIRVs, 6,500-8,000 km range, inventory includes 32 deployed RSM-50 missiles with 96 warheads.
    • RSM-54 - deployed in 2007, equipped with four 100 kt MIRVs, 8,300 km range, inventory includes 96 deployed RSM-54 missiles with 384 warheads.
    • RSM-56 (Bulava) - deployed in 2014, equipped with six 100 kt MIRVs, 8,000+ km range, inventory includes 48 deployed RSM-56 missiles with 288 warheads. Since its inaugural test in 2004, the Bulava missile has a long record of failed launches, the most recent being in 2016.  
    • R-29RMU2- several sources claim it entered service in 2014, some have speculated that the missile can be equipped with up to 10 warheads, however, other estimates put the number at 4 warheads.

Strategic Bombers

  • The Russian Air Force currently operates a total of 60-70 long-range bombers: approximately 25 Tu-95 MS6 (Bear-H6) long-range bombers, 30 Tu-95 MS16 (Bear-H16) long-range bombers, and 13 Tu-160 (Blackjack) supersonic long-range bombers.
  • All three aircraft are categorized as strategic heavy bombers and are limited by the New START Treaty. Only 50 of the bombers are believed to be deployed with an estimated carrying capacity of 616 cruise missiles and an unspecified number of gravity bombs.
  • The estimated 68 strategic bombers do not all regularly carry nuclear payloads but have the capacity to deliver up to 786 cruise missiles in total.
  • The specific carry capacity of each bomber is as follows: 
    • Tu-95 MS6 - capable of carrying 6 nuclear Kh-55 (AS-15A) strategic cruise missiles. An estimated 84 AS-15A missiles are deployed as of 2017.
    • Tu-95 MS16 - capable of carrying up to 16 nuclear Kh-55 (AS-15A) strategic cruise missiles. An estimated 400 AS-15A missiles are deployed as of 2017.
    • Tu-160 – capable of carrying up to 12 Kh-55 (AS-15B) cruise missiles or 12 Kh-15 (AS-16) short range attack missiles. An estimated 132 AS-15B missiles are deployed as of 2017.
    • All three bombers can be equipped with gravity bombs.
  • The Russian Air Force also operates a multipurpose medium-range supersonic bomber, the Tu-22M, which is considered a tactical nuclear delivery platform for various types of cruise missiles and is not limited by New START.
  • Russia has begun studying designs for a next-generation of strategic bombers meant to replace the entire fleet of Tu-95’s, Tu-160’s, and Tu-22M’s. The new bomber program is expected to develop a prototype by the early 2020’s.

Nuclear Doctrine

Under Russia’s standing Military Doctrine, most recently updated in December 2014, “The Russian Federation reserves the right to use nuclear weapons in response to the use of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction against it and (or) its allies, as well as in response to aggression against the Russian Federation that utilizes conventional weapons that threatens the very existence of the state.”

NATO and U.S. officials have expressed concern over Russian nuclear doctrine, particularly as it pertains to the limited use of nuclear weapons. Defense Department officials have said that Russian doctrine includes a so-called “escalate to de-escalate” strategy, which envisions the limited first use of nuclear weapons to attempt to end a large-scale conventional conflict on terms favorable to Russia. However, some experts have called into question whether “escalate to de-escalate” is part of Russian doctrine. 

Fissile Material

Russia has publicly declared that it no longer produces fissile material (highly enriched uranium [HEU] and plutonium) for weapons purposes.

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • The Kremlin announced a halt to HEU production for weapons in 1989 and the cessation of plutonium production for weapons in 1994.
  • At the end of 2015, Russia’s HEU stockpile was estimated at 679 metric tons, with a margin of error of 120 metric tons (making it, absent the margin of error, the largest HEU stockpile). Approximately 20 metric tons are designated for civilian use, the second largest stockpile of civilian HEU after the United States.
  • Russia concluded a joint program in 2013, the U.S.-Russia Highly Enriched Uranium Purchase Agreement, in which Moscow downblended 500 metric tons of its excess weapons grade HEU into a reactor fuel unsuitable for bombs that it then sold to the United States as light water reactor fuel.
  • A second U.S. funded program, the Material Conversion and Consolidation project (MCC), blended down 16.8 metric tons of HEU by the end of 2014.

Plutonium

  • In April 2010, Russia closed its last plutonium production facility, although it has not discounted a return to producing separated plutonium for fast-breeder reactors in the future.
  • The weapon-grade plutonium stockpile is, as of 2016, estimated at 181 metric tons, with an 8 metric ton margin of error.
    • The weapons-grade stockpile is estimated at 128 ± 8 metric tons.
    • 53 metric tons are declared for civilian use.
  • Russia committed to disposing of 34 metric tons of excess plutonium under a 2000 agreement with the United States entitled the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA).
    • The project was delayed for several years, but in April 2010 the two nations signed a protocol that amended and updated the 2000 agreement, with the goal of beginning disposition in 2018.
    • However, in October 2016, Russia, citing the U.S. failure to meet its obligations under the agreement, suspended its implementation of the deal and conditioned the resumption of implementation on the lifting of all U.S. sanctions against Russia and a restructuring of NATO’s forces. Russia contends that U.S. plans to abandon the conversion of plutonium into mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel in favor of a cheaper and faster downblending method does not meet the terms of the deal because this alternative method would not change the composition of the plutonium from weapons-grade to reactor-grade.  

Proliferation Record

  • The United States and independent analysts have long cited Russia as a key supplier of nuclear and missile-related goods and technology to a variety of countries, including states of proliferation concern such as Iran and Syria.
    • In response, the United States has often levied sanctions on Russian entities believed to be involved in such proliferation activities.
    • Beginning in the mid-2000s, the number and frequency of Russian entities placed under U.S. proliferation sanctions declined, possibly as a result of an increasing Russian commitment to controlling sensitive exports; however, that number has greatly increased since 2014.
  • Russia remains a source of illicit sensitive technology pertaining to missile proliferation.
  • The vast former Soviet biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons complexes, including their former scientists, have also been seen as a potential source of arms, materials, and knowledge for other regimes or non-state actors.
    • The United States and other countries have pursued programs dedicated to mitigating this potential threat by helping Russia and other Soviet states secure or destroy facilities, materials, and weapon systems, and gainfully employ former scientists in non-arms related work.
    • However, there has been a significant decline in U.S.-Russian nonproliferation cooperation since 2013, despite continued cooperation in cleaning out weapon-grade material from third countries such as Poland in 2016.
  • After suspending the PMDA, Russia likewise suspended its participation in a 2013 cooperative agreement on nuclear and energy related research and terminated a third agreement from 2010 on exploring options for converting research reactors from weapons-usable fuel.

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Biological Weapons

  • The Soviet Union maintained an extensive offensive germ weapons program, including research into plague, anthrax, smallpox, tularemia, glanders, and hemorrhagic fever.
  • The United States has repeatedly voiced concern over the status of Russia’s inherited Soviet germ warfare program. However, in 2011, Russia maintained that it is in compliance with the BWC.
  • Nonetheless, the State Department in April 2016 maintained that Russia’s annual BWC confidence-building measures submissions since 1992 have “not satisfactorily documented whether this program [the inherited Soviet offensive biological research and development program] was completely destroyed or diverted to peaceful purposes in accordance with Article II of the BWC.” 
  • The lack of transparency surrounding this program prevents the U.S. from reaching more concrete conclusions.

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Chemical Weapons

  • Upon entry into force of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) on Dec. 5, 1997, Russia declared that it possessed approximately 40,000 metric tons of chemical agents, the largest amount in the world at the time. A dispute lingers over whether Russia has fully declared all of its chemical weapons-related facilities and past production.
  • In August 2016, Russia declared that it had destroyed 94 percent of its stockpile and would destroy the rest by the end of 2017. 
  • The State Department stated in 2016 that it “cannot certify that Russia has met its obligations under the Convention: for declaration of its CWPFs [chemical weapons production facilities]; its CW development facilities; or its CW stockpiles.”
  • Russia has destroyed all of its Category 2 and 3 chemical weapons.

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty
The 1987 INF Treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union requires the United States and Russia to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty resulted in the United States and the Soviet Union destroying a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles by the treaty’s implementation deadline of June 1, 1991.

However, in July 2014 the U.S. State Department officially assessed Russia to be in violation of the agreement citing Russian production and testing of an illegal ground-launched cruise missile. The State Department reiterated this conclusion in 2015 and 2016.

For its part, Russia has raised concerns about U.S. compliance with the treaty. 

New START
In April 2010, the United States and Russia signed a successor to the original START accord. The new treaty, known as New START, entered into force on Feb. 5, 2011 and requires that both sides reduce their arsenals to 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear weapons on no more than 700 ICMBs, SLBMs, and bombers by 2018. In addition, the treaty contains rigorous monitoring and verification provisions to ensure compliance with the agreement.

Nuclear Reduction Beyond New START
In February 2013, President Obama announced that the United States intended to engage with Russia to further reduce deployed strategic warheads by one-third below the New START limit to around 1,100 to 1,000 deployed warheads. However, there has been little progress toward achieving such reductions due to the deterioration of U.S.-Russia relations in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Russia’s insistence that other issues, such as limits on U.S. missile defenses, be part of negotiations on further reductions.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
Established in 1979 as a multilateral disarmament negotiating forum by the international community, Russia has been a regular and active participant in the CD. Russia, along with China, has attached significant priority in the CD to negotiating an agreement on the prevention of an arms race in outer space (PAROS). However, the United States and other countries have opposed this initiative. In keeping with its official stance in support of a ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes, Russia submitted a draft program of work to the CD in March 2016 calling for the establishment of a working group to recommend “effective measures to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and other nuclear explosive devices.” In 2016, Russia also proposed that the CD should negotiate a new convention, the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Chemical Terrorism, in order to fill several gaps it claims exist in the CWC.

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
The Russian government has signed and ratified protocols stating its intent to respect and not threaten the use of nuclear weapons against states-parties to the Latin America and South Pacific nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties. In 2011 Russia signed and ratified Protocol I and II for the African zone. In 2014, it ratified the protocols for the Central Asian zone but has yet to ratify the protocols for the Southeast Asian zone.

Nuclear Security Summits
Russian participation in Nuclear Security Summits includes the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC, the 2012 NSS in Seoul, and the 2014 NSS in The Hague. Russia did not participate in the most recent NSS, held in Washington, DC in 2016. The Russian boycott of the 2016 NSS came amid continued souring of U.S.-Russian relations. At the time, Moscow declared, “We do not see added value coming out of these meetings.”

Syrian Chemical Weapons
In September 2013, in the aftermath of the large-scale use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government, Russia reached an agreement with the United States to account, inspect, control, and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. By July 2014, Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpile had been successfully removed from the country and flagged for destruction following a broad multilateral operation. However, concerns have been raised about the accuracy of Syria’s declaration.

In September 2014 the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) confirmed that chlorine gas was being used in Syria. The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Mar. 6, 2015 condemning the use of chlorine gas in Syria. Russia has officially supported the UN resolution but maintained that only the OPCW can determine violations of the CWC and that it did not accept the use of sanctions under Chapter VII of the charter against Syria without confirming the use of chemical weapons. In August 2016, the third report of the OPCW-UN Joint Investigative Mechanism was released, finding that the Syrian government was responsible for chemical weapons attacks.  

In April 2017, another chemical weapon attack was carried out in the Syrian town of Khan Shaykhun where Syrian government warplanes were accused of spreading a nerve agent via bombs, killing dozens. U.S. President Donald Trump responded by immediately blaming the regime of Bashar Assad and launching 59 Tomahawk missiles targeting the airfield that had allegedly launched the attack. Russia stood by the Assad regime, claiming that the airstrike had hit an opposition depot housing chemical weapons. 

(For a detailed timeline on Syrian chemical weapons, see our fact sheet here.)

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia took part in the negotiation of the July 2015 JCPOA, which limits and rolls back Iran’s nuclear program. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that the accord "will favorably affect the general situation in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf." Russia backed the JCPOA on the grounds of supporting nonproliferation especially since its borders fall well within the range of Iranian ballistic missiles. Furthermore, Russia stands to accrue significant economic gains in Iran with the lifting of nonproliferation sanctions. For example, in 2016 Russia concluded the delivery of an S-300 air defense missile system worth $800 million to Iran in a deal that had been suspended since 2010. In response to threats arising from the Trump administration to discontinue the JCPOA, Vladimir Voronkov, Russia’s ambassador to international organizations in Vienna, stated in January 2017 that it is “necessary to do everything possible to avoid damage” to the nuclear deal.

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Posted: April 1, 2014

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Iran

October 2015

Updated: July 2017

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that Iran subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of Iran, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available here.

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

1968

1970

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

- - -

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

- - -

- - -

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

 

- - -

- - -

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1973

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

- - -

- - -

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Not a member

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Not a member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Not a member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Signed an additional protocol in Dec. 2003 and implemented it voluntarily until February 2006 after the IAEA Board of Governors resolution referring Tehran to the UN Security Council. As part of the July 2015 nuclear deal, Iran will implement its Additional Protocol and seek to ratify it within eight years.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Not a participant

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Not a participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Not a participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540

Iran has filed the requested reports on its activities to fulfil the resolution.

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

Iran does not possess nuclear weapons but it conducted activities in the past relevant to developing a nuclear warhead, including uranium enrichment and studies on ballistic missile mating and re-entry. In July 2015, after a decade of intermittent negotiations, Iran along with the “P5+1” (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) concluded the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), frequently referred to as the Iran nuclear deal. The Iran nuclear deal restricts Iran’s nuclear activities and puts in place monitoring and verification measures in addition to Iran’s safeguards. For more on the deal see the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action at a Glance.   

Delivery Systems

Ballistic Missiles

  • Iran’s missile program is largely based on North Korean and Russian designs and has benefitted from Chinese technical assistance.
  • With approximately 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, the program is one of the largest deployed ballistic missile forces in the Middle East.
  • Iran’s current focus is on enhancing the accuracy of medium-range systems - not increasing range.
  • UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the JCPOA in 2015, annulled a 2010 resolution that prohibited Iranian tests of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and “calls upon” Iran not to test any ballistic missiles that are “designed to be nuclear capable.” Resolution 2231 also kept in place sanctions preventing Iran from buying materials and technologies relevant to developing ballistic missiles.
  • Iran has continued ballistic missile testing in the wake of the nuclear deal. In response, the United States has designated additional entities for contributing to Iran’s ballistic missile program.
  • Iran’s short-range and medium-range missiles include:
    • Shahab-1: The Shahab-1 is an operational, short-range missile with an estimated range of 300km.
    • Qiam: The Qiam is a short-range missile with an estimated range of 500-1000km.
    • Dongfeng-15: The Dongfeng-15 is a short-range missile with an estimated range of 600-800km.
    • Shahab-2: The Shahab-2 is a short-range missile with an estimated range of 500km.
    • Shahab-3: The Shahab-3 is an operational missile with an estimated range of 800-1,000km. A liquid-fueled missile based on the North Korean No-Dong, it is Iran’s most sophisticated missile.
    • Emad-1: The Emad-1 is a single-stage medium-range ballistic missile with a range of up to 2,000 km. First tested in 2015, Iran claims the Emad-1 is a high-precision missile.
    • Ghadr-1: The Ghadr-1 is a medium-range missile under development with an estimated range of up to 2,000 km. The missile is a modified version of the Shahab-3.
    • Sejjil-2: The Sejiil is a intermediate-range missile under development with an estimated range of 1,500-2,500km. First tested in 2007, the Sejill is a two-stage solid fuel-propelled missile. The Sejjil-2 has not been tested since 2011 and reports indicate Iran has a hard time producing the solid-fueled motors because of sanctions. This technology could help improve the mobility of Iran’s missile force. 

Space-Launched Vehicles (SLV)

  • Safir: The Safir is a two-stage, liquid-fueled space launch vehicle (SLV) that Iran has used to successfully launch four satellites into space between February 2009 and February 2012. Two Safir launches subsequently failed, once in 2013 and again in 2014. In February 2015, Iran successfully launched a satellite for the fifth time. A 2009 report by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) assessed that the Safir “can serve as a test bed for long-range ballistic missile technologies” and could serve as an ICBM if converted to a ballistic missile.
  • Simorgh: The Simorgh is a two-stage SLV that Iran has displayed, but not launched. It is larger than the Safir. The first Simorgh launch was announced for 2010.

Cruise Missiles

  • Iran possesses the following cruise missiles:
    • Kh-55: An air-launched nuclear-capable cruise missile with a range of up to 3,000 km which was illegally procured from the Ukraine in 2001.
    • Khalid Farzh: Iran’s most advanced missile with a range of about 300 km capable of carrying a 1,000 kg warhead.
    • Nasr-1: A domestically produced missile which is claimed to be capable of destroying warships and military targets up to 3,000 tons.

Fissile Material

  • During the latter half of 2002, the IAEA began investigating two secret Iranian nuclear facilities: a heavy-water production plant near Arak and a gas centrifuge uranium-enrichment facility near Natanz.
  • In September of 2009, the discovery of Fordow, a secret nuclear facility under construction near Qom, deepened international suspicions about Iran’s uranium enrichment activities.
  • In 2010, Iran scaled up some of its uranium enrichment from less than 5 percent to 20 percent, the level required for Iran’s research reactor.
  • Under the Iran deal, Iran’s enriched uranium is capped at 3.67 percent.
  • Much of the uranium-enrichment program is based on equipment and designs acquired through former Pakistani nuclear official A.Q. Khan’s secret supply network.
  • Iran relies on its IR-1 centrifuge, a variant of Pakistan’s P-1 centrifuge, known to be crash-prone and unreliable. 
  • Under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran is permitted a strictly limited amount of R&D on advanced centrifuges.  

The Road to the JCPOA

  • In 2006, the Security Council adopted a number of resolutions calling on Iran to suspend uranium enrichment-related activities and cooperate fully with the IAEA.
  • When Iran refused to comply, the UNSC introduced four rounds of sanctions targeting Iranian entities and individuals believed to be involved in Iran’s proliferation-related activities.
  • In 2009, Russia, France, and the United States negotiated a fuel swap deal with Iran to transfer low-enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country in exchange for fuel for a reactor that produces medical isotopes. The deal fell through when Iran tried to change the terms.
  • In 2012, the P5+1 continued diplomatic efforts and met with Iran on four separate occasions. These talks were suspended for the 2013 Iranian elections though they did lay the groundwork for what would become the JCPOA.
  • After President Rouhani was elected in June of 2013, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met for a bilateral exchange. A day later, President Obama called President Rouhani, marking the highest level contact between the U.S. and Iran since 1979.
  • Negotiations to curb the Iranian nuclear program took place in October and November 2013 and an interim agreement was reached November 24. Implementation of the interim agreement began on January 20, 2014. The interim agreement was extended twice before the comprehensive agreement was finalized. Along the way all parties implemented changes and did not violate the interim agreement. Learn more about the interim agreement here.
  • The final agreement is known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and was finalized on July 14, 2015. The implementation schedules and enforcement options are governed by UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which was adopted on July 20, 2015. Learn more about the JCPOA.   
  • According to U.S. government estimates, under the JCPOA, for well over a decade, it will take Iran 12 months to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb.
  • Since implementation day, six quarterly IAEA reports have verified Iran’s adherence to the JCPOA. Two reports noted slight excesses in heavy-water. Iran rectified this by selling or shipping abroad part of its stocks.

Proliferation Record

  • In 2000, Iran exported rockets and several ballistic missile components to Libya.
  • Iran has been accused of violating a Security Council resolution barring arms transfers to Hezbollah.
  • Since 2007, the Security Council has barred Iran from selling conventional arms and also prohibits any country from importing arms from Iran without prior UN Security Council approval. Under UN Security Council Resolution 2231 the embargo on Iran’s export of conventional arms will remain in place for five years from JCPOA Adoption Day (October 2015). This embargo may be lifted earlier if the IAEA reaches a “Broader Conclusion” that Iran’s nuclear program remains peaceful.
  • According to a 2012 report by a designated panel of experts, Iran has been a major supplier of weapons to the Syrian government. The report describes three illegal transfers, two to Syria and one to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
  • Unit 190, a branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, is responsible for smuggling arms to Iranian proxies in Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere.

Biological Weapons

  • Iran has ratified the Biological Weapons Convention but the United States maintains Iran’s biotechnology infrastructure gives it the ability to produce small quantities of biological weapons agents for offensive purposes.
  • According to a 2004 CIA report, Iran has previously conducted offensive biological weapons agent research and development and continues to seek dual-use biotechnology.
  • U.S. officials have accused Iran of “probably” pursuing an offensive biological weapons capability in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention in 2011. Iran denies the allegation.

Chemical Weapons

  • Iran has signed and ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • A 2009 unclassified U.S. intelligence report says that “Iran maintains the capability to produce chemical warfare agents” as well as the ability “of weaponizing [chemical weapons] agents in a variety of delivery systems."
  • Having suffered chemical weapon attacks during the eight year Iran-Iraq war, Iranian officials frequently speak about the dangers of chemical weapons.
  • The United States has sanctioned companies for providing dual-use chemicals to Iran.

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Middle East Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone

  • Iran was one of the first states to formally call for a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, joining with Egypt to propose the goal to the UN General Assembly in 1974. Tehran consistently makes statements at disarmament fora expressing its support for the zone concept.  

Conference on Disarmament

  • At the 2012 Conference on Disarmament, Iran said it was not opposed to negotiations of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) but that it should not infringe on any state’s right to use fissile material for peaceful purposes or naval propulsion.

Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons

  • Iran played an active role in the negotiations for a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in March and June-July 2017, calling often for a comprehensive and verifiable treaty.

 

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Posted: January 21, 2014

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Pakistan

October 2015

Updated: April 2017

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that Pakistan subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of Pakistan, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available here.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • Bilateral Talks with India
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)


Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

---

---

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

---

---

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

---

2000*

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

---

2016

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1974

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

---

---

*Pakistan stated that it will not be bound by the provisions of Paragraph 2, Article 2, or by the dispute settlement procedures in Paragraph 2, Article 17

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Not a member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Not a member. Pakistani entities have been sanctioned by the United States for engaging in trade involving missiles and missile technologies controlled by the regime.

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Not a member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Not a member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

No, Pakistan has not negotiated such an agreement.

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Participant

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Not a participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Not a participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

Pakistan has filed the requested report on its activities to fulfill the resolution and volunteered to provide assistance to other states.

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

Pakistan developed nuclear weapons outside of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Pakistan’s nuclear program dates back to the 1970s and was spurred on by India’s first nuclear test in 1974. Pakistan is believed to house a nuclear arsenal of 130-140 warheads. Pakistan is currently expanding its nuclear arsenal faster than any other country and developing new delivery systems for its warheads. Pakistan may also be working on the sea-based leg of a nuclear triad.

Delivery Systems

Short-Range Ballistic Missile (<1,000 or less km)

  • Haft-1: Short-range, solid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of 70-100 km.
  • Adbali (Haft-2): Flight-tested six times; entered service in 2005. Nuclear role ambiguous; 180-200 km range; single warhead. 
  • Ghaznavi (Haft-3): ~16 nuclear missiles; 290 km range.
  • Shaheen-1 (Haft-4): ~16 nuclear missiles; 750 km range.
  • Shaheen-1A (Haft-4): Under development, an improved variant of the Shaheen-1. First tested in 2012, may see deployment in 2017. Listed by Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris as having a 900 km range, but following its first test it was reported to be a medium range missile.
  • Nasr (Hatf-9): Under development; 60 km range. Each NASR launcher, however, contains 4 missile tubes primarily for conventional payloads. 

Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (1,000-3,000 km)

  • Shaheen-2 (Haft-6): ~12 nuclear missiles; 1,500-2,000 km range.
  • Shaheen-3 (Hatf-10): Under development; underwent two successful tests in 2015; may see deployment in 2018. The Pakistani government said the missile was capable of delivering a nuclear or conventional warhead for 2,750 km.  
  • Ghauri-1 (Hatf-5): ~24 nuclear missiles; 1,250 km range.
  • Ghauri-2 (Haft-5a): Medium-range liquid propellant missile under development with an expected range of at least 1,800 km.

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

It is speculated, albeit loosely, that the Taimur missile, with a range of 7,000 km, is an ICBM under development.

Cruise Missiles

  • Babur (Hatf-7): ~12 ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles; 350 km range (Pakistani government claims 700 km).
  • Ra’ad (Haft-8): Nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missile; status unknown; may be deployed in 2017

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

  • Pakistan does not currently possess SLBMs. Following the launch of India’s INS Arihant submarine in 2009, the Pakistan Navy announced its intention to build a nuclear submarine of its own, and in 2012 the Navy announced it would start construction. According to the Navy, the submarine is an ambitious project, will be designed and built indigenously, and will take between 5 and 8 years. It not yet clear if Pakistan is attempting to complete the nuclear triad.
  • According to Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris, there are indications that Pakistan is developing a nuclear weapon for deployment on submarines. Pakistan’s announcmenet that it would stand up a Naval Strategic Force Command in 2012 also points to an interest in developing sea-based capabilities.   
  • There was been a confirmed test of the nuclear-capable Babur cruise missile from a mobile underwater platform in January 2017. It may be converted for use on submarines.

Strategic Bombers

  • Pakistan’s available delivery vehicles include dual-use fighter aircraft, reportedly the U.S.-origin F-16A/B and French-origin Mirage 2000 fighter jets. The planes were not transferred for the purpose of delivering nuclear bombs, but Pakistan is believed to have modified them for that mission. Both were deployed in 1998.
  • F-16A/B: ~24 nuclear-capable F-16A/Bs; ~24 nuclear bombs; plane has a 1,600 km range.
  • Mirage III/V: ~12 nuclear-capable Mirage III/Vs; ~12 nuclear bombs or Ra’ad cruise missiles; plane has a 2,100 km range.  

Fissile Material

  • Specific estimates of Pakistan's stockpiles of fissile material are difficult to determine, given uncertainty about Pakistan's uranium enrichment capacity.
  • Pakistan continues to produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons purposes.
  • Pakistan is currently estimated to possess approximately 3.1 ± 0.4 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and approximately 190 kg of weapons-grade plutonium.
  • By the end of 2015, Pakistan was operating four reactors that produce plutonium for weapons at Khushab. Khushab-I began operations in 1997/98, Khushab-II in 2009/10, Khushab-III in early 2013, and Kushab-IV in 2015.
  • Pakistan separates the plutonium from the spent reactor fuel at the Rawalpinki New Labs facility, which has two reprocessing plants. Another reprocessing facility may be being constructed at Chashma as of 2015.
  • In contravention of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has supplied Pakistan with 4 nuclear power reactors, the Chasnupp-1,-2,-3, and-4. The fourth reactor, the Chasnupp-4, went critical in March 2017. In addition, China has supplied Pakistan with Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) for use in these reactors.

Proliferation Record

  • The foundation of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program was aided by the theft of nuclear technology and know-how from the European company URENCO by scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who became a leading figure in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons establishment. Khan is also believed to have received a nuclear weapon design from China. Although U.S. intelligence was aware of Pakistan’s illicit program, the United States continued to provide military assistance and foreign aid to Islamabad up until 1990 when President George H. W. Bush decided that he could no longer certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device. U.S. sanctions related to Pakistan’s nuclear program were dropped after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when the United States decided to pursue closer relations with Pakistan as part of the U.S. declared “war on terror.”
  • Abdul Qadeer Khan had also developed a black market network of suppliers to procure technology and know-how for Pakistan’s secret nuclear weapons program and then transformed that network into a supply chain for other states. Iran, Libya, and North Korea were all clients and other states might have been as well. After the interception of one of his shipments to Libya in October 2003, Khan appeared on Pakistani television in February 2004 and confessed to running the network, which transferred items ranging from centrifuges to bomb designs.
  • The Pakistani government denied any complicity in or knowledge of the network and confined Khan to house arrest. Although reportedly serving as an intermediary to foreign governments, the Pakistani government has not made Khan available to direct interviews by other states. General concern exists that remnants of the network might still be functioning.
  • Pakistan instituted new export control laws following the public exposure of Khan’s network in 2004, including the establishment of the Strategic Export Control Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Pakistan's control list now includes dual-use materials in an effort to meet the regulatory standards of export control regimes.
  • Numerous Pakistani entities and—more recently—individuals, including Abdul Qadeer Khan himself, have been placed under U.S. nonproliferation sanctions, many of which are still active.  

Nuclear Doctrine

Pakistan has pledged no first use against non-nuclear weapons states. Pakistan’s policy on first use against states that possess nuclear weapons, particularly India, remains vague. Although Pakistani officials have claimed that nuclear weapons would be used only as a matter of last resort in such a conflict with India, Islamabad’s development of battlefield nuclear weapons to counter Indian conventional forces raises questions as to how central Pakistani nuclear weapons are in its security doctrine.

In a 2015 statement, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is one-dimensional, that is it “not for starting a war.” He also said in 2015 that Pakistan is capable of answering aggression from India due to Islamabad’s development of short-range tactical nuclear weapons. According to Hans Kristensen, “Pakistan is modifying its nuclear posture with new short-range nuclear-capable weapon systems to counter military threats below the strategic level.” 

Pakistan’s nuclear warheads are believed to be stored in a disassembled state, with the fissile core kept separate from the warhead package. This practice greatly increases the time required to deploy the weapons.

Due to severe political instability from extremist groups in Pakistan, there is unease regarding the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, materials, and facilities from both insurgent threats and insider collusion. Pakistan has shared critical information about its nuclear activities with the U.S., and both Pakistani and U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that Pakistani nuclear assets are secure from such threats.

Testing

Pakistan has conducted two nuclear weapon tests, although one of those involved five simultaneous explosions. The first test occurred May 28, 1998, and the last took place May 30, 1998. In 1990, China is believed to have tested a Pakistani derivative of the nuclear design Beijing allegedly gave to Khan.

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Biological Weapons

  • No government has alleged that Pakistan is violating its Biological Weapons Convention commitments. Islamabad has not filed a voluntary BWC confidence-building declaration.
  • Pakistan has increased its regulation of its biological industry. It has issued a set of biosafety rules in 2005 which established a National Biosafety Committee.

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Chemical Weapons

  • Pakistan has no known chemical weapon stockpiles.
  • Pakistan has, in the 1990s, been accused of procuring large quantities of dual-use chemicals and supplying chemical weapons or chemical substances to non-state actors in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Bilateral Talks with India

  • Signed the India-Pakistan non-Attack Agreement which entered into force in January 1991.
  • In 1992 India, signed the India-Pakistan Agreement on Chemical Weapons for the “complete prohibition of chemical weapons.”
  • After their tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998, Pakistan and India volunteered to abstain from nuclear testing.
  • Established a hotline to reduce the risk of accidental nuclear war and agreed to exchange advance notifications of ballistic missile flight tests.
  • In 2007, the fifth round of talks regarding the review of nuclear and ballistic missile-related confidence building measures took place as part of the Composite Dialogue Process.

Nuclear Security Summits
In April 2010, Pakistan attended the first Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC where participants included 47 countries, 38 of which were represented at the head of state or head of government level, and the heads of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the European Union. At the summit, the participants unanimously adopted the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in the next four years. Pakistan has also attended the 2012 NSS in Seoul, the 2014 NSS in The Hague, and the final 2016 NSS held again in Washington, DC where attendees developed action plans for five global organizations to continue the work of the summits. Pakistan claimed, in its 2016 NSS National Statement, that “As a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan takes nuclear security very seriously and accords it the highest priority in its security construct. Our nuclear security paradigm, evolved over the years, is effective and responsive against the entire range of possible threats. Nuclear security regime in Pakistan is dynamic and regularly reviewed and updated.”

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
Established in 1979 as a multilateral disarmament negotiating forum by the international community, Pakistan has been a regular and active participant in the CD. Pakistan has blocked the start of negotiations on a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) at the 65-member CD. Islamabad has insisted that an FMCT must cover existing stocks of fissile material due to concerns about India's current stockpile, and is preventing the body from reaching consensus on an agenda that would allow negotiations on the treaty to begin. In an interview with Arms Control Today, Pakistani permanent representative to the UN Office at Geneva Zamir Akram indicated that the decision by the Nuclear Suppliers Group to remove the ban on sales of nuclear material to India was a major barrier to Pakistani support for an FMCT. He said that Pakistan would support negotiations if it, too, received a waiver from the NSG.

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Posted: July 12, 2013

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: France

June 2013

Updated: April 2017

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that France subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of France, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available here.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • Open Skies Treaty
  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

---

1992

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

1998

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1980

1991

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

---

2013

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1995

Biological Weapons Convention

---

1984

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

---

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Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Member

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Signatory, entered into force in April 2004

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Participant

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

France has filed reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
France maintains the third largest nuclear weapons force in the world. As of 2017, France is estimated to possess approximately 300 nuclear warheads, most of which are designed for delivery by submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with the remainder affixed to air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) carried by strategic bombers.

French President François Hollande publically affirmed the size of the arsenal in February of 2015, when he said that France’s stockpile included 300 warheads for 48 SLBMs and 54 cruise missiles. Estimates place France’s deployed strategic warhead numbers at around 290, with a remaining 10 in reserve.  Although France has reduced the size of its nuclear arsenal by half its Cold War numbers, the current stockpile has remained relatively stable over the last few decades. In 2008, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy stated that France’s arsenal would be reduced below 300 warheads but also reaffirmed France’s commitment to its nuclear deterrent, declaring it as a “life-insurance policy.”

In 2009, France declared that its aircraft carrier, the nuclear-powered Charles de Gaulle, no longer deployed nuclear weapons, marking the end of peacetime deployments of short-range nuclear weapons at sea. France continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal and develop new missiles. According to the French Ministry of Defense (MoD), the nuclear deterrence budget in 2016 was 3.6 billion euros.  

Delivery Systems

Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

  • In 1996, France decided to eliminate its nuclear-armed land-based ballistic missiles.

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)
Submarines

  • France’s nuclear submarine force consists of 4 Triomphant- class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) known as the FOST (La Force Océanique Stratégique).This fleet forms the backbone of the France’s nuclear deterrence and is responsible for approximately 80 percent of its nuclear arsenal. It is based at the Île Longue peninsula, south of Brest in the Brittany region of France.
  • At least one submarine remains out at sea at all times on deterrent patrol while another two remain fully operational and can be rapidly put to sea. The fourth submarine, as per the Triomphant-class’ extensive maintenance cycle, will be undergoing overhaul at any given time; as a result, France only maintains three sets of SLBMs and warheads.  
  • Beginning in 2010 with the Vigilant, two of the SSBNs have been upgraded to carry the M51.1 missile while the remaining two are to be upgraded with the M51.2 missile. All four SSBNs are expected to be upgraded with M51 missiles by 2019. The M51.3 is anticipated to be deployed on the Terrible in 2020.
  • In 2013, France was beginning preliminary work for the development of a third generation SSBN to replace the Triomphant-class by 2030.   

SLBMs

  • France fields 2 types of SLBMs:
    • M45 – 16 missiles carrying around 80 warheads, each missile can carry a total of six 100 kt TN-75 multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) warheads, 4,000-6,000 km range. The M45, deployed in 1997, is an improved version of the M-4 missile, its predecessor.
    • M51.1 – 32 missiles carrying around 160 warheads, each missile can carry a total of six 100 kt TN-75 MIRVs, 6,000+ km range. With greater range and accuracy, the M51.1 was developed in 2010 to replace the ageing M45 missiles; replacement is still in progress as of 2017.
    • M51.2 – an unspecified number of missiles and warheads, capable of carrying up to six new 150 kt TN MIRVs, 6,000+ km range. Develepment of the M51.2 is ongoing; a test of the missile failed in 2013.
    • M51.3 – in 2014, Airbus was contracted by the French government (now a joint venture between Airbus and Safran) to produce a new generation M51 missile, the M51.3. Details are unknown but it is expected to be tipped with the TNO (tête nucléare océanique) warhead and enter service in 2020 and to arm the successor to the Triomphant-class SSBN.
  • French SLBMs do not carry the maximum number of nuclear warheads. Former President Jacques Chirac stated in 2006, that "The number of nuclear warheads has been reduced in certain of the missiles in our submarines." This decision was supposedly made to improve targeting flexibility against regional powers.  

Strategic Bombers

  • The French Air Force currently operates Mirage 2000N and Rafale aircrafts which are capable of carrying and delivering nuclear payloads.
  • According to a French MoD “Defense Key Figures” report in 2016, the French Air Force possesses 23 Mirage 2000N nuclear and conventional assault planes and a further 81 Rafale omnirole aircraft. Of these, France deploys only around 20 nuclear-capable Mirage 2000Ns (though some sources cite 23) and 20 nuclear-capable land-based Rafale F3 aircraft.
  • Each of these planes carries a single 300 kt TNA warhead on an Air-Sol Moyenne Portée (ASMP) ALCM. The ASMP has a range of around 300 km or 500 km for the ASMP-A, an improved variant carried by most of the bombers.
  • By 2018, all of the Mirage 2000N fighters will be replaced by the Rafale fighters, completing the ongoing upgrading process.
  • The French Navy also operates 10 new nuclear-capable Rafale MF3 fighters that have replaced its Super Éntendard aircrafts, retired in 2016, that were also capable of carrying and delivering nuclear payloads. These aircraft also carry a single 300 kt TNA warhead fired from an ASMPA-A missile.

Fissile Material

Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU)

  • After ending its production of HEU in June 1996, President Jacques Chirac announced in February 1996 that France no longer produced fissile material for weapons purposes and that would it would dismantle its fissile material production facilities.
  • As of 2016 estimates, France is believed to possess an HEU stockpile of around 31± 6 metric tons.
  • France holds approximately 26 ± 6 metric tons of military HEU. There exists significant uncertainty over this figure due to a lack of public information about French HEU production.
  • As of December 2014, France had declared a 4.6 metric ton stockpile of civilian HEU to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). A large percentage of this civilian stock is believed to be of U.S. and Russian origin for use in research-reactor fuel.

Plutonium

  • France ceased its production of separated plutonium in 1992.
  • As of 2016, France is estimated to possess a military plutonium stockpile of 6±1 metric tons.
  • At the end of 2014, France reported holding 61.9 tons of domestic unirradiated plutonium, the second largest stockpile globally, and 16.9 metric tons of reprocessed foreign unirradiated plutonium, mostly belonging to Japan.
  • France is one of the few countries that continues to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, and it accepts fuel from foreign countries for that purpose. Its AREVA La Hague plant has a commercial reprocessing capacity of about 1,700 tons of used nuclear fuel per annum (around half of the world’s light water reactor fuel reprocessing capacity as of 2009).  France uses separated plutonium to fabricate mixed oxide (MOX) fuel that is used in light water reactors.

 Proliferation Record

  • France officially maintains a long-standing position in support of nonproliferation activities.
  • In 1957, France signed a major nuclear cooperation agreement with Israel even though it was generally understood that Israel was interested in potentially developing a nuclear arsenal. France halted the agreement in 1960.
  • France built the Osirak reactor in Iraq despite warnings from other governments that the reactor might be used to support a secret Iraqi nuclear weapons program. Paris declined to rebuild the reactor after Israel bombed the plant in 1981.
  • France remains among the world’s top suppliers of peaceful nuclear facilities and expertise.

Nuclear Doctrine

French nuclear policy is one of calculated ambiguity regarding first-use of nuclear weapons.  France adheres to its principle of “strict sufficiency” whereby it keeps its nuclear arsenal at the lowest possible level in accordance with the strategic context. In its 2013 White Paper on Defence and National Security, France claims that its deterrence strategy is strictly defensive and that “The use of nuclear weapons would only be conceivable in extreme circumstances of legitimate self-defense” and that nuclear deterrence “protects France from any State-led aggression against its vital interests, of whatever origin and in whatever form” including terrorism. France has reaffirmed a 1995 negative security assurance to the UN not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) unless it is facing an invasion or sustained attack against its territories, armed forces, or states with which it has security agreement and the attack is in alliance with a nuclear-weapon state.

Paris declared that it took steps in 1992 and 1996 to extend the time it takes to launch nuclear weapons. It is believed that France needs several days in order to launch nuclear weapons.

Testing:

France conducted 210 nuclear tests. The first test occurred Feb.13, 1960, and the last test took place Jan. 27, 1996. France was the fourth country to conduct a nuclear weapon test.

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Biological Weapons

  • Little is known about past French biological weapons activities, which reportedly included research on anthrax, botulinum toxin, cholera, ricin, rinderpest, and salmonella.
  • France is not suspected of having a current offensive biological weapons program, and under France’s 1972 Law on the Prohibition of Biological Weapons, it is illegal to produce or stockpile these weapons. They are believed to have stopped their program after WWII.
  • France’s 2004 Code of Defense states that “The development, production, possession, stockpiling, acquisition, and transfer of microbiological agents, other biological agents and biological toxins, whatever their origin and mode of production, which are of a kind and quantity not suited for prophylactic, protection or other pacific purposes, are prohibited.”
  • France acceded to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) on Sep. 27, 1984, and is also member of the Australia Group.
  • France annually submits reports as confidence-building measures under the BWC and encourages other states to follow suit. It also hosts the annual plenary meeting of the Australia Group.
  • France maintains a biodefense program that it claims is in strict compliance with the BWC.

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Chemical Weapons

  • During World War I, France produced and used mustard gas and phosgene. France maintained stockpiles of these weapons at the beginning of World War II but did not use them.
  • After World War II, France resumed offensive chemical weapons research and testing, and in the 1960s they manufactured Sarin and VX nerve agents.
  • France destroyed its stockpiles of chemical weapons prior to 1988. President François Mitterrand claimed, in a 1988 speech to the United Nations, that France no longer had any chemical weapons and ended production.
  • France signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in Paris in 1993 and ratified it in 1995. It also holds that it displays “exemplary” cooperation with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Open Skies Treaty
France is a state-party to the Open Skies Treaty, which enables unarmed reconnaissance flights over all states-parties territories.

Conference on Disarmament (CD)      
The CD was formed in 1979 as a multilateral disarmament negotiation forum for the international community. France has regularly participated in its meetings. On April 9th, 2015, France formally deposited a draft fissile material cutoff treaty at the CD. 

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
France has signed and ratified additional protocols pledging not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against any of the contracting parties to the African, Central Asian, Latin American and Caribbean, and South Pacific nuclear weapons free zone treaties. However, France maintains reservations to each of these protocols. No states have signed or ratified the Southeast Asian nuclear weapons free zone treaty protocol.

Nuclear Security Summits
In keeping with its official stance in support of securing nuclear material around the world, France has  participated in the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) held in Washington, DC, the 2012 NSS held in Seoul, the 2014 NSS Held in The Hague, and the 2016 NSS held again in Washington, DC.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
Since its initiation of nuclear talks with Iran in 2003, France has engaged in multilateral diplomacy with Tehran over its nuclear program, including the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. After its conclusion, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that the deal would be sufficiently “robust” for another 10 years.

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Posted: March 21, 2013

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: The United Kingdom

February 2015

Updated: March 2017

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that the United Kingdom subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of the United Kingdom, as well as its proliferation record. This profile is one of a series focused on the arms control record and status of key states, all of which are available here.

Contents

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

  • The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
  • Delivery Systems
  • Fissile Material
  • Proliferation Record
  • Nuclear Doctrine

Biological Weapons

Chemical Weapons

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

  • Conference on Disarmament (CD)
  • Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
  • Nuclear Security Summits
  • Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)


Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

Signed

Ratified

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

1968

1968

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

1998

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

1980

1981

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

---

2010

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1996

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1975

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

2005

2009

Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

Group

Status

Australia Group

Member

Missile Technology Control Regime

Member

Nuclear Suppliers Group

Member

Wassenaar Arrangement

Member

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol

Signatory, entered into force in 2004

Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

Participant

Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

Participant

Proliferation Security Initiative

Participant

UN Security Council Resolutions 1540 and 1673

The United Kingdom has filed the requested reports on its activities to fulfill the resolutions and volunteered to provide assistance to other states

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Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview
The United Kingdom (UK), as of 2017, maintains a military stockpile of 215 nuclear weapons and has reduced its deployed strategic warheads to 120, of which no more than 40 are at sea on the Vanguard-class submarines at any given time. The UK announced that it had achieved its commitment to reduce deployed warheads to 120 in January 2015.

The UK has the smallest deployed arsenal of the nuclear weapons states and has committed to reducing its nuclear stockpile. In October 2010, the UK government announced plans to reduce its total nuclear weapons stockpile to 180 weapons by the mid-2020s. It reaffirmed this commitment in its 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR).

Upon successful reduction down to 180 nuclear warheads, the UK will have achieved a 65 percent reduction in the size of its overall nuclear stockpiles since the height of the Cold War. Plans to modernize the UK’s nuclear arsenal were introduced in 2006 but have, presently (March 2017), been deferred. The cornerstone of modernization plans surrounds the introduction of a new nuclear-capable submarine to replace the Vanguard-class.

Delivery Systems
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

  • The United Kingdom’s does not possess ICBMs.

Submarines and Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM)

  • British nuclear warheads are only deployed on SLBMs.
  • The United Kingdom maintains one type of ballistic missile system in its arsenal for delivering nuclear warheads: the U.S.-leased Trident II (D5) SLBM, which has an estimated range of roughly 7,400-12,000 kilometers. The UK’s Trident D-5 missiles are equipped with British warheads similar to the United States’ W76 100 kt warheads.
  • The Trident D5 is planned to remain in service until the early 2040s following a life extension program. Decisions for a replacement warhead have been deferred until later this decade and the current warhead is expected to last into the late 2030s.   
  • The British military currently operates four Vanguard-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). Each submarine is capable of carrying 16 Trident D5 missiles and each of these missiles carry up to three 100 kt warheads. Currently each submarine only carries up to eight Trident D5s.
  • One submarine is always out at sea on deterrent patrol. The missiles aboard the Vanguard, however, are not alert and require several days of preparation prior to launching.
  • The Vanguard SSBNs are housed at Her Majesty's Naval Base (HMNB) Clyde off the shore of Gare Loch in Scotland.
  • At the cornerstone of the UK’s nuclear weapons modernization ambitions, the British government declared it intentions in 2015 to replace the Vanguard-class submarines in what is known as the Successor submarine program. This program entered its design phase as early as 2011. It is estimated that the production of four Successor submarines will cost £31 billion. In keeping with an anti-Trident campaign, there exists debate over whether or not to carry out this program.  
  • In June 2012, the British government awarded a contract to Rolls-Royce to build two new nuclear submarine reactor cores. The second of these cores is for the first Successor class vessel.  In October 2016, construction of the first Successor submarine began under BAE Systems and has been named the HMS Dreadnought. The Dreadnought will be the Royal Navy’s largest-ever submarine at 17,200 metric tons, 1,300 metric tonnes heavier than the Vanguard. It will be only be fitted with 12 missile tubes for the Trident D5 instead of 16.
  • The Vanguard-class is expected to leave service by the early 2030s.
  • Although the UK’s nuclear modernization plans enjoy strong support from the government, particularly from the Conservative Party, there are those in the government, mainly in the Labour Party—with current Opposition Leader Jermey Corbyn at the forefront, who oppose these plans amid rising public skepticism about the need to possess nuclear weapons. Opposition to modernization plans are chiefly due to its high cost (it is slated to be the largest British military project in history), time commitment, prevailing pro-disarmament sentiments, and safety concerns.
  • Scottish, Welsh, and Irish nationalist parties are also generally pro-disarmament. In addition, the future of the UK’s nuclear weapons was jeopardized by the Scottish independence referendum in 2014 as its nuclear submarines are housed at HMNB Clyde in Scotland and the Scottish Nationalist Party vowed to scrap the Vanguard submarines if Scotland obtained independence.

Strategic Bombers

  • The United Kingdom does not possess nuclear capable aircraft.
  • Britain’s dismantlement of the Royal Air Force’s gravity based nuclear bombs in 1998 marked the beginning of its maritime-only deterrence strategy.

Fissile Material
Military

  • In April 1995, the UK ceased production of separated plutonium and the British government declared that it no longer produces fissile material for weapons. The UK halted the production of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in 1963. As of 2016, the British government is estimated to maintain a military stockpile of approximately 3.2 metric tons of plutonium and 19.8 metric tons of HEU.

Civilian

  • The United Kingdom possesses the world’s largest stockpile of civilian plutonium, with over 103.3 metric tons designated for this purpose.
  • In 2014, the UK announced that it will shut down its B205 plutonium reprocessing plant around 2020. The plant reprocessed spent fuel from the UK’s Magnox power reactors.
  • The country stores approximately 23 metric tons of foreign owned plutonium, the majority of which belongs to Japan.
  • The UK’s civilian stockpile of HEU is roughly 1.4 metric tons.

Proliferation Record
The UK is not known to have deliberately or significantly contributed to the spread of biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons to other states. The UK is, officially, an active promoter of nonproliferation and is a leading member in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the Zangger Committee as well as the Proliferation Security Initiative. The UK has been involved in both Iranian and Libyan nonproliferation processes and continues to support the creation of an effective and verifiable chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.   

Nuclear Doctrine
In its 2015 Strategic Defense and Security Review document, the British government reaffirmed a commitment not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states-parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) subject to certain conditions regarding their behavior and alliances. Nevertheless, this 2015 document notes that the government reserves the right to “review this assurance if the future threat, development or proliferation of these weapons make it necessary.” The document also states that “We will continue to keep our nuclear posture under constant review in the light of the international security environment and the actions of potential adversaries.” London refuses to rule out the first use of nuclear weapons, but has stated that it would only employ such arms in self-defense and “even then only in extreme circumstances.”

The UK’s 2006 defense white paper states that “we deliberately maintain ambiguity about precisely when, how and at what scale we would contemplate use of our nuclear deterrent.”

The British government’s standard practice is to have one submarine on deterrent patrol at any given time. The government claims the missiles aboard the submarine are not on alert and that launching a missile would take several days of preparation.

Testing
The United Kingdom has conducted 45 nuclear weapon tests. The first test occurred on October 3, 1952, and the last took place November 26, 1991.

Biological Weapons

  • The United Kingdom had an active biological warfare program from 1934 to 1956.
  • As part of that program, the United Kingdom weaponized anthrax and researched plague, typhoid fever, and botulinum toxin.
  • The United Kingdom ratified the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) in March 1975 and has reaffirmed its support for the BTWC in 2005.
  • Today, the British government operates an extensive and sophisticated defensive program that includes research on potentially offensive pathogens.

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Chemical Weapons

  • During World War I, the United Kingdom produced an arsenal of chlorine and mustard gases.
  • In 1957 the UK abandoned its chemical weapons program and has since eradicated its stockpiles.
  • The UK ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in 1996 and has provided financial assistance to countries such as Russia, in 2001, to destroy their chemical weapons stockpiles.

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Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

Conference on Disarmament (CD)
The United Kingdom regularly participates in the CD, established in 1979 by the international community as a multilateral disarmament negotiating forum. In July 2009, the British government announced its report on nuclear nonproliferation entitled “The Road to 2010” at the CD. In 2010, the UK called for negotiations on an Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) to be moved to the United Nations General Assembly where it could be endorsed by a majority vote.  

Nuclear Weapons Free Zones
The United Kingdom has ratified additional protocols to the Latin American and the Caribbean, South Pacific, African, and Central Asian nuclear weapons free zone treaties pledging not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against the treaty's member states. However, the UK maintains reservations to each of these protocols. It has not ratified the Southeast Asia nuclear weapons free zone treaty.   

Nuclear Security Summits
British participation in the Nuclear Security Summits includes the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) in Washington, DC, the 2012 NSS in Seoul, the 2014 NSS in The Hague, and the 2016 NSS held again in Washington, DC.

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)
London has engaged in nonproliferation negotiations with Iran such as the most recent rounds of the P5+1 talks over Iran’s nuclear activities. The British government supported ratcheting up sanctions on Iran to persuade it to halt certain activities, particularly uranium enrichment. This included a European Union-wide ban on importing Iranian oil that went into effect July 1, 2012. The UK participated in negotiations on the JCPOA in July 2015 which both limits and rolls back Iran’s nuclear program. Then Prime Minister David Cameron said that the deal would "make our world a safer place."

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Posted: November 29, 2007

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