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– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Country Profiles

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+ 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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Country Profiles

Fact Sheet Categories:

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 km range, inventory includes 32 deployed RSM-50 missiles with 96 warheads.
    • RSM-54 - deployed in 2007, equipped with four 100 kt MIRVs, 8,000 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: October 2015

This profile details which 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 on the Arms Control Association’s Website at http://www.armscontrol.org.

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

 

Signed

Ratified

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

1973

Chemical Weapons Convention

1993

1997

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

1996

- - -

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)

1968

1970

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

- - -

- - -

Outer Space Treaty

1967

- - -

Ottawa Mine Ban Convention

- - -

- - -

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)*

- - -

- - -

CPPNM 2005 Amendment*

- - -

- - -

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

- - -

- - -

*Participated as observer


Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

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 on Dec. 18, 2003. Iran submitted an initial declaration consistent with the protocol in 2004 and abided by the protocol for a brief period despite the fact that it has not entered into force. But in February 2006 Iran ended its voluntary implementation in response to adoption of an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors resolution referring Tehran to the UN Security Council. As part of the July 2015 nuclear deal reached between Iran and the six countries known as the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States), Iran will implement its Additional Protocol and ratify it within eight years. Implemention of the additional protocol will likely begin formally in early 2016. 

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 Resolution 1540: Iran has filed the requested reports on its activities to fulfill the resolution.


Major Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

Biological Weapons:
The United States maintains that Iran’s biotechnology infrastructure gives it the ability to produce at least small quantities of biological weapons agents for offensive purposes. According to a U.S. Central Intelligence Agency report, Iran has previously conducted offensive biological weapons agent research and development and continues to seek dual-use biotechnology, which may support legitimate biotechnology activities, an offensive biological weapons program, or both. [1] U.S. officials have accused Iran of “probably” pursuing an offensive biological weapons capability in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention. [2] Iran denies that allegation.

Chemical Weapons:
Having suffered chemical weapon attacks during its eight-year war with Iraq, Iranian officials frequently speak about the dangers such arms pose. The United States, however, has sanctioned companies for providing dual-use chemicals to Iran.  An 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.” [3] Although an option exists for states-parties to request a challenge inspection of alleged weapons sites under the terms of the Chemical Weapons Convention, no state-party, including the United States, has called for such an inspection in Iran.

Missiles:

  • Ballistic Missiles: Iran is the only country not in possession of nuclear weapons to have produced or flight-tested ballistic missiles with ranges exceeding 2,000 kilometers. The Iranian missile program is largely based on North Korean and Russian designs and has benefited from Chinese technical assistance. With around 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, Iran has one of the largest deployed ballistic missile forces in the Middle East.[4] Its most sophisticated deployed ballistic missile is the liquid-fueled Shahab-3. Based on the North Korean Nodong missile, the Shahab-3 has a range of about 1,300 kilometers. Variations of the Shahab-3, including the Ghadr-1, are reported to have a range of almost 2,000 kilometers. Iran also tested a more-precise version of the Shahab-3, the Emad, in September 2015. Iran has consistently said its emphasis the accuracy of its medium-range systems, rather than a focus on longer rangers. Iran has made progress in developing and testing solid-fueled missile technologies, which could significantly increase the mobility of Iran’s missile force. Iran first tested a two-stage solid fuel-propelled missile, the Sajjil-2, which has a reported range of roughly 2,000 kilometers, in 2007. It conducted several more tests through February 2011. If Iran attempts to develop a nuclear bomb, it will most likely use the Sejjil as a delivery vehicle.[5] Recent reports, however, indicate that sanctions are preventing Iran from developing the capacity to domestically produce solid-fueled motors.  This may also account for Iran's not having recently tested the Sejjil II.[6] In addition, a 2013 report by a UN panel of experts charged with overseeing the implementation of sanctions on Iran noted that the Sejjil II has not been sighted in over a year. Iran has also developed a two-stage, liquid-fueled, space launch vehicle (SLV), the Safir. Between February 2009 and February 2012 Iran successfully launched four satellites into space using the Safir SLV. It is believed that Iran is also developing a larger space launch vehicle, the Simorgh, which has yet to be tested.  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 IRBM if converted to a ballistic missile.
  • Cruise Missiles: Iran has acquired a variety of anti-ship cruise missiles, both through foreign sources and domestic production. Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko confirmed in 2005 that Iran illegally procured six Kh-55 cruise missiles from Ukraine four years earlier. The Kh-55 is an air-launched nuclear-capable cruise missile with a range of up to 3,000 kilometers. China has also provided Iran with cruise missiles and technology.  A 2011 report from the Director of National Intelligence stated that despite export control legislation, Chinese firms and individuals continued to supply Iran with missile technology.[7] Iranian made missiles include the Nasr-1, claimed to be capable of destroying warships and military targets up to 3,000 tons. Iranian officials have also announced the large scale production and deployment of short-range cruise missiles including Zafar and Qader missiles. With a range of about 300 kilometers and capable of carrying a 1,000 kg warhead, the Khalid Farzh is Iran's most advanced missile.

Nuclear Weapons:
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. Since that time, the agency has discovered a series of clandestine nuclear activities, some of which violated Iran’s safeguards agreement with the agency. Much of Iran’s uranium-enrichment program is based on equipment and designs acquired through former Pakistani nuclear official A.Q. Khan’s secret supply network.

After the revelations of Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom launched negotiations with Iran to address international concerns about the intent and scope of its nuclear program. These negotiations collapsed in 2005. Subsequently, the IAEA Board of Governors declared Iran in noncompliance with its safeguards obligations and referred the matter to the UN Security Council. In 2006, China, Russia, and the United States joined the three European countries in diplomatic efforts to address Iran’s nuclear program. The six-country bloc is generally known as the P5+1, comprising the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany.

Since 2006, the Security Council has adopted a number of resolutions calling on Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment-related activities and cooperate fully with the IAEA investigation. In response to Iran’s refusal to comply with these demands, the council has introduced four rounds of sanctions targeting Iranian entities and individuals believed to be involved in Iran’s proliferation-related activities.

It relies on a variant of Pakistan's P-1 centrifuge, which is known to be crash-prone and unreliable. Iran has been developing more advanced designs capable of enriching uranium three times faster, but its efforts have been hampered by sanctions that prevent Iran from importing the necessary materials that it cannot produce domestically, such as a high-quality carbon fiber. In February 2013, the IAEA reported that Iran had begun installing IR-2M centrifgues at its Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz. Experts assess that when operational, these machines will be 3-4 times more efficient that the IR-1 models. Other advanced centrifuges are undergoing testing. In September 2009, the revelation of Fordow, a secret nuclear facility under construction near Qom, deepened international suspicions about Iran’s uranium enrichment activities. Iran has also refused to provide the IAEA with timely design information and access to nuclear facilities and persons or discuss outstanding concerns regarding a potential military dimension to its nuclear program.

In an unclassified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) released Dec. 3, 2007, the U.S. intelligence community concluded with “high confidence” that Iran had “halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003” and expressed “moderate confidence” that the program had not been restarted.[8] The 2007 NIE defined “nuclear weapons program” as weapons design and weaponization activities, as well as covert uranium conversion and enrichment work. Since that time, Western intelligence agencies have reportedly assessed that Iran has resumed research related to weaponization, but has still not restarted all of the weapons-related activities shelved in 2003. An update of the 2007 NIE finished in 2011 appears to have maintained many of its core conclusions. Iran has consistently rejected allegations that it is pursuing nuclear weapons.

In October of 2009, Russia, France and the United States negotiated a draft agreement with Iran to transfer a portion of Iran’s low-enriched uranium (LEU) out of the country in exchange for fuel for a rector that produces medical isotopes. Widely referred to as the fuel swap deal, the agreement fell through when Iran tried to amend the terms of the LEU transfer. During 2010 Iran scaled-up a portion of its uranium enrichment from 4 percent to 20 percent, the level required for the medical reactor fuel. An effort by Brazil and Turkey to mediate a similar arrangement in May of 2010 was met with skepticism by the United States, Russia, and France who expressed doubts over the terms of the announcement as well as its timing. The P5+1 group has continued its diplomatic efforts, meeting with Iran on four separate occasions in 2012. These negotaitions did not produce any significant agreements. The proposals from 2012 served as the basis for the 2013 talks, which took place in February and April in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Talks were supsended for the Iranian elections after no progress was made during the April meetings.

On June 14, 2013 Hassan Rouhani was elected president of Iran. A former nuclear negotiator, he asserted that Iran will maintain its nuclear program, but Tehran is willing to be more transparent.

On September 26, 2013 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, the P5+1 foreign ministers met with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who presented the P5+1 with a new proposal that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described as “very different in the vision” of possibilities for the future. Zarif and Kerry then met for a bilateral exchange after the larger group meeting.

Zarif said he and Kerry agreed to move “first, on the parameters of the end game.” Zarif says Iran and the P5+1 will think about the order of steps that need to be implemented to “address the immediate concerns of [the] two sides” and move toward finalizing a deal within a year. The following day, President Barack Obama called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, marking the highest level contact between the U.S. and Iran since 1979. While President Obama said that there will be significant obstacles to overcome, but he believes a comprehensive resolution can be reached.

The parties met again on October 15-16 in Geneva. U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman said that the Oct. 15-16 talks were more substantive and candid than any of the past rounds of negotiations with Iran. Iran presented its proposal during these talks. The proposal lays out a path forward based on a broad framework that outlines the end-state of a deal and a first phase that addresses some of the most urgent proliferation concerns of both sides.

Iran and P5+1 continued negotiations November 7-10, 2013 in Geneva. During this round, Secretary Kerry joined the talks on the second day in anticipation of a deal being reached. The other P5+1 foreign ministers also flew to Geneva. No agreement was announced when the negotiations ended, but Kerry said that significant progress was made and the sides narrowed the areas of differences.

Talks resumed in Geneva on November 20. Again, the Foreign Ministers flew in to join the negotiations, and on November 24, the parties announced that they reached an agreement. The agreement spelled out steps for each side to take in a first-phase six month deal, and laid out the parameters for a final agreement. The full text of the November 24, 2013 deal, the Joint Plan of Action, is available here.

Amongst other provisions, in the first-phase deal, Iran committed to halt uranium enrichment to 20 percent, blend down to 3.5 percent half of its stockpile of uranium enriched to 20 percent and oxidize the remaining half, halt construction at the Arak Reactor, and committed not to install further centrifuges, or operate its advanced centrifuges. Iran's nuclear facilities would also be subject to more stringent monitoring by the IAEA.

In return, Iran would receive limited sanctions relief from petrochemical, precious metals, and automotive sanctions, and approximately $4.2 billion in oil money held up in other countries. The money would be paid out over the course of the six months.

After three rounds of technical meetings to discuss the details of implementation, the parties announced on Jan. 12 that the six month timeframe for the initial deal would begin on Jan. 20. The IAEA issued a report on Jan. 20 which found that Iran halted 20 percent enrichment and adhering to other provisions in the agreement. On the same day, the United States and the European Union issued statements confirming the suspension of sanctions outlined in the agreement.

For more information on the proposals, see ACA's factsheet "History of Official Proposals on the Iranian Nuclear Issue," available here.

Implementation of the interim deal continued through July 14, 2015, when the parties arrived at a comprehensive agreement. Under that deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran would recieve sanctions relief in return for limitin uranium enrichment to reactor grade levels, about 3.67 percent, for 15 years and operate only 5,060 centrifuges for 10 years. Iran also agreed to transform the Fordow facility to a research purpose and modify the Arak reactor so that its spent fuel contains less weapons-grade plutonium.

Iran also agreed to more stringent inspections, application of its additional protocol, and agreed to cooperate with the IAEA's investigation into the past military dimensions of its nuclear program.

For more details on the deal, click here.  

Nuclear Capabilities

Under the July 2015 nuclear deal, it would take Iran over 12 months to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for one bomb for well over a decade. That timeframe is a combination of the limits on Iran's stockpile of enriched uranium, less than 300 kg of uranium enriched to 3.67 percent for 15 years, and its centrifuge restrictions, 5,060 IR-1s. Given that Iran's enrichment facility, Natanz, will be under continual surveillance, any move by Iran will be quickly detected. 

In May 2011, Iran’s first nuclear power reactor at its Bushehr plant began operations. This light-water reactor does not produce weapon-grade plutonium, but its operation does raise concerns regarding Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities. Russia provides fuel for the reactor and takes back the spent fuel. The safety and security of the reactor will also be upgrade under the July 2015 nuclear deal with the P5+1. 

Conventional Weapons Trade:
In a September 2011 arms trade report, the U.S. Congressional Research Service reported that Iranian weapons purchases have largely focused on air defense systems, presumably to protect their territory and nuclear sites from possible U.S. or Israeli air attack. In September of 2010, Russia announced that it was canceling the 2007 sale of the S-300 air defense missile systems. This decision followed the introduction of the UN arms embargo in Security Council Resolution 1929. Even though the S-300 system was not covered by UN Security Council sanctions in 1929, Russia was under pressure to cancel the sale as part of an effort by the international community to push Iran to negotiate over its nuclear program. In April 2016, after implementation of the July 2015 nuclear deal began, Moscow announced it would complete the sale and shipped initial components to Iran. Iranian news outlets reported that Russia completed the shipment in October 2016. 

Iran is still prohibited from importing heavy arms through 2020 without Security Council approval under Resolution 2231. However, the S-300 system is not covered by that resolution. That prohibition could be lifted earlier if the IAEA reaches a rigorous finding on peaceful nature Iran's nuclear activities known as the Broader Conclusion. 


Proliferation Record

In 2000, Iran exported rockets and several ballistic missile components to Libya. It also has been accused of violating a Security Council resolution barring arms transfers to the anti-Israel militia Hezbollah operating in Lebanon. A 2007 UN Security Council resolution bars Iran from selling conventional arms and prohibits any country from importing arms from Iran. Iran has been a major supplier of weapons to the Syrian government according to a 2012 report by a designated panel of experts to the UN Security Council. The report describes three illegal transfers that took place in the prior year, two of which were to Syria and the third to Taliban members in Afghanistan. Illegal transfers to Syria included "assault rifles, machineguns, explosives, detonators, 60mm and 120mm mortar shells and other items."

While a number of Secuirty Council sanctions were lifted under the nuclear deal, Resolution 2231 still prohibits Iran from transfering arms or related materials outside its terrority without prior approval. In a July 2015 report on implementation of resolution 2231, the UN Secretary General said it was reviewing information provided by the United States about an interdiction by the US Navy of a shipment of weaponry from Iran likely bound for Yemen. 


Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

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.

During the 1996 Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference, Iran proposed an amendment to the convention to expressly prohibit the use of biological weapons.

Beginning in 1999, Iran sponsored a UN General Assembly resolution establishing an intermittent panel of governmental experts to consider the issue of missiles “in all its aspects.” The panel, which held three sessions in 2001-2002, 2004, and 2007-2008, has explored several topics, including missile proliferation, missile defenses, and confidence-building measures. Meanwhile, Iran has elected not to participate in the voluntary Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation, which calls upon states to provide pre-launch notifications of their missiles and to annually report on their missile holdings.

At the 2012 Conference on Disarmament, Iran said that 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.

 

 


ENDNOTES

1. Central Intelligence Agency, Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January-31 December 2004, http://www.dni.gov/reports/2004_unclass_report_to_NIC_DO_16Nov04.pdf.

2. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation John C. Rood’s presentation to the Sixth Biological Weapons Convention Review Conference, November 20, 2006, http://geneva.usmission.gov/Press2006/2011Rood.html.

3. Central Intelligence Agency, Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions http://www.dni.gov/reports/2009_721_Report.pdf.

4. Department of Defense, Unclassified Report on Military Power of Iran April 2010, http://www.fas.org/man/eprint/dod_iran_2010.pdf.

5. Crail, Peter, "Progress Seen in Iranian Missile Test," Arms Control Today, June 2009, http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2009_6/IranMissile

6. International Institute for Strategic Studies "Iran sanctions halt long-range ballistic-missile development," July 2012, http://www.iiss.org/publications/strategic-comments/past-issues/volume-18-2012/july/iran-sanctions-halt-long-range-ballistic-missile-development/.

7. Director of National Intelligence, Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January Through 31 December 2011, February 2012, http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/wmd-acq2011.pdf.

8. National Intelligence Estimate, “Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities,” November 2007, http://www.fas.org/irp/dni/iran120307.pdf.

 

http://www.dni.gov/reports/2011_report_to_congress_wmd.pdf
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Posted: January 21, 2014

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: Syria

October 2013

Updated: October 2013

This profile summarizes the major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that Syria subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of Syria, 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 on the Arms Control Association’s website at http://www.armscontrol.org.

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

 

 

Signed

Ratified

Geneva Protocol 1925 1968

Biological Weapons Convention

1972

- - -

Chemical Weapons Convention

- - -

2013*

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

- - -

- - -

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)

1968

1969

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

- - -

- - -

Outer Space Treaty

- - -

1968

Ottawa Mine Ban Convention

- - -

- - -

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)

- - -

- - -

CPPNM 2005 Amendment

- - -

- - -

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

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 activities to fulfill the resolutions.

 

Major Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

Biological Weapons: Syria signed the Biological Weapons Convention in 1972, but has not ratified the treaty. 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. The U.S. Director of National Intelligence 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.[1]

Chemical Weapons: Until September 12, 2013, Syria was one of five countries that had neither signed nor ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC.) Under growing pressure from the international community after the use of chemical weapons against opposition forces on multiple occasions in 2013 and the threat of a U.S. military strike, Assad passed a presidential decree allowing the country to accede to the CWC. Two countries, Israel and Myanmar, have signed but not completed ratification. However, in 1968, Syria ratified the 1925 Geneval Protocol, which prohibits the use "of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices" in war.

Syria is believed to possess hundreds of tons of mustard gas, blister agents, and nerve agents, which could include sarin and the agent VX. In July 2012, the Syrian government publically 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 has had a chemical weapons program for many years and its stockpile is deliverable by “aerial bombs, ballistic missiles, and artillery rockets.”[2] It is dependent, however, on foreign sources for key elements of its program.

On March 21, 2013, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon announced that the United Nations would begin an investigation into alleged uses of chemical weapons at the request of the Syrian authorities. He requested the full cooperation of all parties involved and said that any party responsible for the use of chemical weapons must be held accountable.

In an April 25, 2013 letter from the White House to Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), said that the nerve agent sarin may have been used “on a small scale” in Syria but that the United States cannot confirm “how exposure occurred and under what conditions” because the “chain of custody” for the evidence, which included “physiological samples,” is “not clear.” Further investigation is needed, the letter said.

On June 13, the White House released a statement saying that the United States government had high confidence that the Syrian regime used chemical weapons against opposition forces on several occasions. Samples from multiple sources within Syria indicated exposure to the nerve agent sarin.

On August 21, reports indicated that a larger chemical weapons attack took place in an area of Damascus controlled by rebel fighters. Estimates place the number of casualties at well over 1,000 and many of the victims as non-combatants. Syrian armed forces denied the allegations, but officials from the United States, United Kingomd, France, and several other governments issued statements saying that the Assad regime was likely responsible for the attack.

An emergency session of the Security Council was held on August 21, and produced a statement demanding further clarity regarding the incident. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said on August 23 that any use of chemical weapons, under any circumstances, is a violation of international law, and such a "crime against humanity" should result in "serious consequences." President Obama convened a meeting of the National Security Council on August 24 to review evidence about the attack and a range of potential response options.

On August 25, the Assad regime said it would allow UN inspectors to visit the site of the August 21 attack. A UN team arrived in Damascus the following week after several months of negotiations with the Assad regime as to the scope of their investigations into past chemical weapons attacks. However, on August 26, when the inspectors began their investigations the team was not able to reach several of the main areas affected due to "security concerns" cited by the Syrian armed forces.

In a August 26 statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that while investigations are still underway, initial evidence and reports "strongly indicate" that chemical weapons were used and that the Syrian regime has the capacity to launch an attack of this nature. He also strongly criticized the Assad regime for refusing to allow the UN inspectors access to the site for five days, and attempting to "cover up" its actions through further shelling. Kerry said that there would be "accountability for those who would use the world’s most heinous weapons against the world’s most vulnerable people."

On August 30, the White House released the U.S. Government Assessment on the use of chemical weapons in Syria during the August 21 attacl. The report says that the intelligence community has "high confidence" that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against the opposition elements in Damascus. Secretary Kerry, in an address, also said that the regime used chemical weapons "multiple times" over the past year. Kerry said discussions on military action are underway. The following day, August 31, President Obama made a statement saying that he would seek an authorization on the use of force from Congress for a limited military strike in Syria. Given the evidence of chemical weapons use by the Assad regime, Obama said he supported limited action in order to deter further chemical weapons use and uphold international norms.

On September 9, citing the desire to avert military strikes, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced a proposal whereby Syria would agree to place its chemical weapons under international control, dismantle them, and join the CWC, and the United States would agree not to conduct a military strike on the country. Prior to the Russian announcement, Secretary of State Kerry, speaking in the United Kingdom, suggested that if the Assad regime turned over all of its chemical weapons to the international community "without delay," a miltiary strike could be averted.

On September 10, while in Moscow, Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said that the Assad regime welcomed Russia's plan, which also seemed to gain support in the West. On the same day, President Obama, French President Francois Hollande, and British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed how to implement the plan through the UN Security Council, with France beginning to draft a resolution based on the Russian proposal, but reportedly with stipulations that force be authorized should Assad fail to implement the resolution.

On the same day, in an address to the nation, President Obama also requested that Congress postpone a vote on the use of force while the diplomatic path proposed by the Russians is pursued in the UN Security Council, but reiterated his commitment to pursue miltiary action if a deal on securing Syria's chemical weapons is not reached.

On September 12, the Assad regime sent a letter to the United Nations Secretary General which said that Assad signed a legislative decree providing the accession of Syria to the Chemical Weapons Convention. In the letter, Assad said Syria woud observe its CWC obligations immediately, as opposed to 30 days from the date of accession, as stipulated in the treaty.

On September 14, after two days of meetings, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reached an agreement on a detailed plan for the accounting, inspection, control, and elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons. The plan requires Syria to provide a full declaration of its stockpile “within a week” and provide the OPCW and the UN access to all chemical weapons sites in Syria. The plan calls for the OPCW inspectors  to complete their initial inspections by November and calls for the destruction of the stockpile of chemical weapons and chemical agents by the first half of 2014. The United States and Russia will now seek to secure approval of the plan by the OPCW executive council and then a UN Security Council resolution. The agreement outlined states that “in the event of non-compliance, including unauthorized transfer, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, the UN Security Council should impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon delivered a report on September 16 on the results of the UN investigation into the use of chemical weapons in Syria. The report concluded that chemical weapons were used against on August 21 on a "relatively large scale", and that the victims included civilians. The report cited evidence of the nerve agent sarin both in the environment and present in victims of the attack. It was outside of the report's mandate to assign blame for who used the chemical weapons.

On September 20, following the schedule laid out in the US-Russian agreement, Syria submitted a declaration of its chemical weapons stockpiles to the OPCW. The following week, on September 27, the Executive Council of the OPCW adopted a timeline for destroying Syria's chemical weapons. Hours later, the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to adopt a resolution endorsing the OPCW timeline. The Security Council Resolution also says that the body will impose measures under Chapter VII of its charter if Syria does not comply with the resolution, or uses or authorizes the transfer of any chemical agents.

In accordance with the plan, Syria submitted the details of its plan for destroying the stockpile of its chemical weapons to the OPCW on October 27. The OPCW now has until November 15 to respond to the plan.

On October 31, the OPCW confirmed that Syria destroyed, or rendered inoperable, its declared facilities for mixing and producing chemical weapons. The OPCW inspectors were able to visit 21 of the 23 sites and confirmed that the equiptment from the remaining two sites that they could not visit because of security concerns were removed and destroyed elsewhere.

 

Missiles:

  • Ballistic Missiles: Syria’s ballistic missile arsenal is comprised primarily of short-range liquid-fueled Scud B and C missiles that have ranges of 300 and 500 km, respectively. A 700 km range Scud D missile is currently under development. These missiles are likely able to deliver chemical weapons.[3] The Syrian military also deploys a 120 km solid-fueled SS-21. While shorter in range than the Scuds, this missile is more accurate. Syria, however, probably does not have the capability to produce solid-fueled motors for these missiles indigenously.  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.
  • Cruise Missiles: Syria is known to possess several highly accurate anti-ship cruise missiles that could carry chemical warheads; the Sepal and several variants of the Styx.[4] Less is known about a land-attack cruise missile capability.

Nuclear Weapons:

Syria currently does not possess nuclear weapons or fissile material stockpiles that could be utilized for a nuclear weapons program, although it has long publicly expressed interest in developing a nuclear power program and covertly pursued building a reactor. It is widely assumed that Syria cooperated with North Korea to build a reactor that could produce plutonium for weapons. 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. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) currently is investigating allegations of undeclared Syrian nuclear activity.

In June 2011, in a report to the IAEA Board of Governors, the agency concluded that Syria should have declared the construction of the Dair al Zour facility to the IAEA. This conclusion was reached without an actual inspection of the site because Syria had continually denied the IAEA’s request to visit the destroyed facility. The agency relied on satellite and radar imagery to make its conclusions.[5] Based on the report, the Board of Governors determined that Syria was in non-compliance with its IAEA Safeguards Agreement, and sent their conclusions to the UN Security Council.

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.

Conventional Weapons Trade:

Syria’s primary conventional weapons suppliers are Russia and China. According to a 2011 Congressional Research Service Report, between 2003-2010, Syria’s total conventional arms purchases equaled $1.7 billion, with $1.2 billion coming from Russia and $300 million from China.[6]

Under diplomatic pressure by Western countries, in July 2012, Russia agreed not to deliver new weapons to Syria while armed conflict between the military and opposition forces is ongoing and the political situation is unstable. The Russian government specified then that it would not supply the Yak-130 aircraft, although the contract was already signed.[7]

Proliferation Record

Given Syria’s increasing 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. In 2003, Syria was estimated to produce as many as 30 Scud C missiles per year.[8] 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.[9] Israel also accused Syria of supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles, although this has not been confirmed.[10] 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 nonstate actors.

Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

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).[11] 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.

The United States and other countries are actively seeking to prevent Syria from continuing to develop weapons of mass destruction capabilities. 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.

Researched and prepared by Kelsey Davenport and Lauren Weiss.


1. Director of National Intelligence, “Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, Cover 1 January to 31 December 2011.” January, 2012.

2. Ibid.

3. Magnus Normark et al., "Syria and WMD Incentives and Capabilities," FOI Swedish Defence Research Agency, June 2004.

4. "Syria: Country Profile,” Nuclear Threat Initiative, June 2012.

5. Ibid.

6. Richard F. Grimmett, Conventional Arms Transfers to Developing Nations, 2003-2010, Congressional Research Service, September 22, 2011.

7. “Russia suspends new arms shipments to Syria,” CNN, July 9, 2012.  http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/09/world/meast/syria-unrest/

8. Anthony Cordesman, "If it's Syria: Syrian Military Forces and Capabilities," Center for Strategic and International Studies," 15 April 2003, p. 7, www.csis.org.

9. Jeremy Sharp and Christine Blanchard, “Armed Conflict in Syria: U.S. and International Responses,” Congressional Research Service, July 12, 2012.

10. Amoz Harel and Avi Issacharoff, “Syria is shipping Scud missiles to Hezbollah,” Haaretz, July 5, 2012.

11. United Nations General Assembly 65/65. Treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. 8 December 2010. http://daccess-ods.un.org/TMP/7094332.57579803.html

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Posted: October 31, 2013

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)

  • Adbali (Haft-2): Operational status uncertain. Flight-tested six times; may be ready for induction in to the army. Nuclear role ambiguous; 180 km range; single warhead. 
  • Ghaznavi (Haft-3): ~16 nuclear missiles; 250 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): ~24 tactical nuclear missiles; 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 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 (Hatf-5): ~24 nuclear missiles; 1,250 km range.

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: India

February 2015

Updated: April 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*

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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.

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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 110-120 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, and its cruise missile capabilities, as well as the sea-based leg of a nuclear triad.

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

  • Prithvi-I 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 – under development; 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 km (reports of its multiple 2016 tests list a range of 350 km); can carry a single nuclear or conventional warhead. 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 (Dhanush) – developed in 2000 primarily as a ship-launched short-range surface-to-surface missile. Estimated range of 350+ km; can carry a single nuclear or conventional warhead. The reported 350-km range Prithvi-II missiles can sometimes be attributed to the Prithvi-III. The naval version of the Prithvi-III is known as the Dhanush. The Dhanush was first successfully tested on Oct. 5, 2012 and has been successfully tested on three more occasions in 2013, 2015, and 2016.
  • BrahMos – 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 – 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. 
  • 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.  
  • 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.  

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 3,500 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), but it still may not be fully operational at this point. However, 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 5,500 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. It is not believed to be deployed or fully operational although 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 plan does not exist. Some claim that it will be able to deliver four to six warheads with a range 6,000 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) - nuclear-capable SLBM based on the Prithvi missile, intended as India’s first SLBM but it is unclear whether or not the K-15 has been deployed with the INS Arihant. The K-15 is believed to have a 700 km range; no MIRV capabilities. The K-15 was first tested in 2004 and again in 2007, 2008 (10 total tests between 2004-08), and 2013; 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.
  • K-5 – under development. It is expected to arm the future variants of the Arihant-class submarines. Reportedly has 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 and its range would greatly increase India’s nuclear deterrent.     
  • The BrahMos cruise missile was successfully tested from a submarine in March 2013.
  • The Nirbhay cruise missile may also be tested from submarines in the future.

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 12, 2013

Arms Control and Proliferation Profile: North Korea

January 2016

Updated: November 2016

This profile details which major arms control agreements, regimes, initiatives, and practices that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) subscribes to and those that it does not. It also describes the major weapons programs, policies, and holdings of North Korea, 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 by clicking here

Major Multilateral Arms Control Agreements and Treaties

 

Signed

Ratified

Biological Weapons Convention

- - -

1987

Chemical Weapons Convention

- - -

- - -

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

- - -

- - -

Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)
-Announced its withdrawal Jan. 10, 2003.

- - -

1985

Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons

- - -

- - -

Outer Space Treaty

- - -

2009

Ottawa Mine Ban Convention

- - -

- - -

Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM)*

- - -

- - -

CPPNM 2005 Amendment*

- - -

- - -

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

- - -

- - -


Export Control Regimes, Nonproliferation Initiatives, and Safeguards

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 Resolution 1540: North Korea has not filed the requested reports on its activities to fulfill the resolution.


Major Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

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.1 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.2

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.”3 North Korea is believed to have 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons according to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense.4

Missiles:

    • Ballistic Missiles: North Korea is actively expanding its ballistic missile arsenal and allegedly working toward developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). It initially relied upon assistance from the Soviet Union and China to develop its arsenal, but North Korea is now a chief exporter of ballistic missile systems and technology. The North Korean military currently deploys short-range Scud and medium-range missiles. North Korea's medium-range ballistic missiles include the Musudan and Nodong. Since 1998, North Korea has conducted four tests of missiles beyond medium range. The sole test of its two-stage intermediate-range Taepo Dong-1, intended to place a satellite in orbit, failed in August 1998. The Taepo Dong-1 is believed to have merely served as a missile technology test-bed. The inaugural flight test of North Korea’s longest-range missile, the Taepo Dong-2, ended in failure about 40 seconds after launch on July 5, 2006. In April 2009, the Taepo Dong-2 missile was tested again. The first stage of the missile traveled approximately 270km before falling into the Sea of Japan. The remaining stages and the payload landed in the Pacific Ocean, though the intent was for the satellite payload to be launched into space. The international community has largely deemed this test to be a failure. The Taepo Dong-2 is believed to be capable of reaching the United States "if developed as an ICBM."5 In February 2012, North Korea agreed to cease long-range missile tests in exchange for food aid from the United States. Despite this agreement, North Korea proceeded to launch the liquid-fueled three stage Unha-3 rocket (with the same delivery system as the Taepo Dong-2) in April, ostensibly to place a weather satellite in orbit. The result was another failure with the missile exploding after a few minutes of flight time. Two days after the failed test, a parade in Pyongyang featured six road-mobile ICBMs, although based on analyses of the missiles' features, many experts believe that these missiles are mockups, not operational missiles. A May 2012 report by a panel of experts to the UN Security Council confirmed that sanctions from UN Security Council resolutions were hindering development of North Korea's missile programs.6 On December 12, 2012, North Korea attempted another satellite launch using an Unha-3 rocket. Shortly after the launch, the Korean Central News Agency claimed that the satellite successfully entered orbit.
    • Cruise Missiles: North Korea is believed to possess and continues to develop anti-ship cruise missiles derived from the Chinese CSSC-3 Silkworm/Seersucker designs, and it has the ability to produce variants of these missiles domestically. North Korea also possesses the Russian KH-35 anti-ship cruise missile, and may be working to reverse engineer it for an indigenous design. In June 2014, North Korea released a military propaganda video featuring a brief clip of the missile, called the KN-09 by North Korea. In February 2015, Pyongyang released new photos of a recent test launch of the variant, reporting that it was indigenously produced.7 
    • Sea-based Missiles: 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. In May 2015, North Korea conducted an underwater ejection test of a ballistic missile, likely an experimental mockup, 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. Analyses of the developments confirm that North Korea is working to develop an SLBM capability. In November 2015, North Korea again tested the KN-11 SLBM. The test was deemed a failure by experts because the missile failed to launch from the water. 

Nuclear Weapons:

North Korea has estimated 10 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.8  In total, North Korea may have the material for an estimated 14-18 weapons. By 2020, experts estimate that North Korea could have anywhere between 20-100 warheads based on the rate of its stockpile growth and technological improvements.  

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) discovered in 1992 that North Korea had diverted plutonium from its civilian program for weapons purposes. The resulting crisis eventually yielded the 1994 U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework, in which North Korea committed to freezing its plutonium-based weapons program at Yongbyon in exchange for two light-water reactors and other forms of energy assistance.

The Agreed Framework collapsed after the United States accused North Korea of cheating on the arrangement. U.S. intelligence increasingly had suspected North Korea of pursuing a uranium-enrichment program as an alternative path to nuclear weapons, thereby violating the agreement’s spirit, as well as that of an earlier Korean peninsula denuclearization agreement (see “Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities” below). U.S. officials say that North Korean negotiators admitted to having such a covert program when challenged in October 2002 on the issue. North Korean officials, however, have denied that alleged admission and continue to deny ever pursuing a uranium-enrichment program.

The Korean Economic Development Organization (KEDO), the multilateral body created to provide energy assistance to North Korea under the Agreed Framework, halted its energy aid to North Korea in November 2002. A year and one month later, KEDO suspended construction of the two light-water reactors.

North Korea ordered IAEA inspectors to leave the country Dec. 27, 2002, and announced its withdrawal from the NPT Jan. 10, 2003. In response, the IAEA referred the case to the UN Security Council. In August 2003, Russia, China, Japan, the United States, and the two Koreas also launched a multilateral diplomatic process, known as the six-party talks.

The talks initially failed to resolve the disputes, and on Feb. 10, 2005, North Korea announced that it had assembled nuclear warheads. 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 and nuclear weapons programs and return to the NPT. The talks faltered shortly after. On Oct. 9, 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test. The UN Security Council responded by adopting resolution 1718, enacting a variety of multilateral sanctions and demanding that Pyongyang return to the NPT.

On Feb. 13, 2007, the six-party participants agreed to an action plan detailing initial steps to implement the September 2005 Joint Statement. That action plan included shutting down North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor in return for energy aid. Using the Yongbyon facilities, North Korea is thought to have produced sufficient plutonium to assemble 6-11 nuclear devices. Some of this plutonium, however, has been consumed in North Korea's nuclear tests, making its estimated putonium-based arsenal currently about 6-8 warheads.

The six parties concluded a follow-up agreement to the Feb. 13 action plan on Oct. 3, 2007. In that later agreement, North Korea agreed to disable its plutonium-production program at Yongbyon and provide a full accounting of all nuclear activities. In exchange for these actions, North Korea received the remaining energy aid pledged in the Feb. 13 agreement. The United States also committed to remove North Korea from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and to stop applying the 1917 Trading with the Enemy Act against Pyongyang.

North Korea’s failed April 2009 satellite launch was met with a United Nations Security Council condemnation and a demand that North Korea not conduct any further launches using ballistic missile technology. The North Korea responded strongly to this condemnation, withdrawing from the six party talks and declaring an intention to restart plutonium production.

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. The UN Security Council responded with Resolution 1874, which intensified sanctions on Pyongyang. This resolution also called for UN Member States to inspect and seize North Korean cargo suspected of being in violation of the sanctions.

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.

After the failed April 2012 missile test, which the UN Security Council condemned as a violation of resolutions 1718 and 1874, the North Korean government amended its constitution to formally recognize itself as a "nuclear armed state." However, in a meeting with the foreign minister of Cambodia in July 2012, the North Korean foreign minister stated that the regime was willing to resume six party talks.

On December 12, 2012, North Korea claimed that it successfully launched a satellite into space using an Unha-3 rocket that appeared similar to the rocket used in the April 2012 failed launch.

The UN Security Council passed Resolution 2087 on January 22, 2013 in response to North Korea's satellite launch, saying that Pyongyang's actions violated resolutions 1718 and 1874 because the technology required for a satellite launch has applications to ballistic missile development. Resolution 2087 strengthened existing sanctions against North Korea.

Shortly after the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2087, the North Korean Central News Agency indicated that a third nuclear test may be imminent, and that Pyongyang would test long-range rocket systems for military purposes.

On February 12, 2013, the Korean Central News Agency announced that it successfully detonated a nuclear device at its underground test site. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) detected seismic activity, likely from the explosion at the site of North Korea's first two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. The CTBTO's Executive Secretary Tibor Toth said that the activity had "explosive-like characteristics." On April 23, 2013, the CTBTO confirmed that its international monitoring system detected radioactive gases on April 9. The CTBTO was not able to confirm based on the particles detected whether or not the tested device used plutonium or highly enriched uranium.

Experts assess that the 2006 and 2009 tests likely used plutonium, which North Korea was known to have produced at weapons-grade levels. Pyongyang's uranium enrichment capabilities are less clear. While Pyongyang has constructed a gas centrifuge facility, it is unknown if the facility is producing uranium enriched to weapons-grade.

The UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 2094 on March 7, 2013 in response to the February 12 test. The resolution strengthens existing sanctions against North Korea by adding to the list of banned items for import and export, increasing the measure that states can take to interdict shipments suspected of containing these materials when passing through their territories and restricting bulk transfers of cash and other financial activities.

On March 26, 2014 North Korea test-fired two medium-range Rodang (also known as Nodong) missiles into the Sea of Japan, violating UN sanctions. This is the first time in five years that North Korea has tested medium-range projectiles. The next day the UN Security Council unanimously condemned North Korea for launching the midrange missiles, saying the launch violates council resolutions; China joins council in criticizing the launch. On March 30, 2014 North Korea threatened to carry out a 'new form' of nuclear test, one year after its third nuclear test which raised military tensions on the Korean Peninsula and had prompted the UN to tighten sanctions. Pyongyang did not specify what it meant by a 'new form,' but some speculated that it plans to make nuclear devices small enough to fit on ballistic missiles.

Since 2013, North Korea has been making improvements to the Sohae Satellite Launching Station, the site of the Unha rocket launches in 2012, which is ready for a fourth rocket launch. The Sohae site now features an upgraded launch pad, capable launching rockets larger than the Unha-3. Satellite imagery from August 2014 indicates that North Korea used the site to test the rocket motor for the KN-08 road-mobile ICBM, currently under development. The KN-08 was first displayed as a mockup in a military parade in April 2012.

North Korea offered to suspend nuclear testing in January 2015 in exchange for the United States and South Korea calling off annual joint-military exercises slated for spring 2015. The United States rejected the offer.9 

In September 2015, The U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University reported new activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Satellite imagery indicates ongoing work on existing tunnels, which could be used as a bomb test site, completed construction of a new support building, and increased activity at the site’s guardhouse checkpoint. It is unclear if the activity is related to regular maintenance or nuclear test preparations.  

Building on a previous announcement from April 2013 declaring North Korea’s intentions to restart the reactor, Pyongyang reported in September 2015 that all the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon, including the uranium enrichment plant and 5 MW graphite-moderated reactor were operating normally.

In December 2015, North Korea claimed to possess a hydrogen bomb capability. On January 6, 2016 Pyongyang announced its fourth nuclear test, declaring that it was a test of the hydrogen bomb design. As of January 6, the CTBTO confirmed that “unusual seismic activity” had been detected near the Punggye-ri test site. Experts doubt that the test was a hydrogen bomb, but it remains unclear. 


Proliferation Record

North Korea has been a key supplier of missiles and missile technology to countries in the developing world, particularly in politically unstable regions such as the Middle East and South Asia.10 Such transfers are believed to be one of Pyongyang’s primary sources of hard currency. In the past, its missile-related exports have gone to countries such as Egypt, Iran, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen. 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, and in recent years, Pyongyang is widely believed to have provided missile cooperation to Burma. In an Executive Order issued in July 2012, President Obama sanctioned a Burmese entity for collaborating with North Korea on the development of a medium range ballistic missile program for Burma.

North Korea also has been engaged in nuclear proliferation. In April 2008, the U.S. intelligence community revealed that a Syrian facility destroyed in 2007 by an Israeli airstrike was assessed to have been an undeclared nuclear reactor under construction with North Korean assistance.11 The reactor design is believed to have been based on North Korea’s 5 megawatt reactor at Yongbyon. A May 24, 2011 IAEA report said that the facility “was very likely a nuclear reactor.” Pyongyang is also believed to have shipped uranium hexafluoride to Libya in 2000 for that country’s nuclear weapons program.12 

The 2012 Panel of Experts report to the UN Security Council indicated that between May 2011 and 2012 there had been no reported violations of sanctions concerning dual use technology or systems applicable to nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles. While sanctions have seen some success in limiting North Korea's ability to acquire and sell weapons, there were reported violations by North Korea involving arms and other materials.13

In November 2012, however, reports surfaced in the media that alleged that North Korea attempted to sell graphite rods to Syria. The material was reported to have been seized by South Koreans during an inspection of the ship carrying the materials in May. Japanese news sources also reported in November 2012 that in August they intercepted proliferation sensitive items bound for Burma from North Korea. In July 2013, Panama seized a ship carrying Soviet-made Cuban weapons hid amidst a shipment of sugar to North Korea. The Cuban Foreign Ministry maintained that the weapons were being transferred for repair, but the action still violated UN Security Council Resolution 1874 (2009) because no advance notification was given to the UN Security Council 1718 Committee, charged with overseeing North Korean sanctions compliance. The incident reinforced concern that North Korea continues to use illicit channels to advance its ballistic missile and nuclear weapons capabilities.14 

The 2013 Panel of Experts report states that sanctions have “considerably delayed” Pyongyang’s timetable and chocked of considerable financial funding and access to arms, but has not halted the development of the ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs. The Panel highlighted shortcomings in implementation of UNSC resolutions, which create proliferation loopholes for North Korea, and recommended that sanctions be imposed on fifteen additional people and entities.15 

The 2014 report by the Panel of Experts again stressed the need for improved implementation. The Panel did not recommend new nonproliferation measures, but called on states to make better use of the existing tools to stem North Korean proliferation.16  

In the most recent report, covering the period dating to Feb. 5, 2015, the Panel wrote that it saw no evidence of North Korea intends to cease prohibited activities, and reported “widespread evidence of resilience and adaptation” in North Korea’s efforts to circumvent sanctions. In the report the Panel recommended that sanctions be imposed on several dozen additional individuals and entities, and also made recommendations to improve enforcement of the sanctions regime.17 


Other Arms Control and Nonproliferation Activities

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 that the Joint Declaration void in January 2013.

-Updated by Elizabeth Philipp


ENDNOTES

1. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January to 31 December 2010, http://www.dni.gov/reports/20110208_report_wmd.pdf.

2. Melissa Hanham, "Kim Jong Un Tours Pesticide Facility Capable of Producing Biological Weapons: A 38 North Special Report," 38 North Website, http://38north.org/2015/07/mhanham070915/.  

3. Statement of General Thomas A. Schwartz, Commander in Chief United Nations Command/Combined Forces Command and Commander, United States Forces Korea, before the 107th Congress, Senate Armed Forces Committee, March 5, 2002.

4. Minister of National Defense, Republic of Korea, 2010 Defense White Paper, December 2010, http://www.nti.org/media/pdfs/2010WhitePaperAll_eng.pdf?_=1340662780c.

5. National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Ballistic and Cruise Missile Threat, 2009, http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/missile/naic/NASIC2009.pdf.

6. United Nations Security Council, Report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009), May 2012.

7. Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr. "The Korean People's Navy Tests New Anti-ship Cruise Missile," 38 North Website, http://38north.org/2015/02/jbermudez020815/.

8. Joel S. Wit and Sun Young Ahn, North Korea's Nuclear Futures: Technology and Strategy, US-Korea Institue at SAIS, http://38north.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/NKNF-NK-Nuclear-Futures-Wit-0215.pdf

9. Kelsey Davenport, "U.S. Rejects N. Korean Offer on Testing," Arms Control Todayhttps://www.armscontrol.org/ACT/2015_03/News/US-Rejects-North-Korean-Offer-on-Testing

10. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Unclassified Report to Congress on the Acquisition of Technology Relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction and Advanced Conventional Munitions, 1 January to 31 December 2010, http://www.dni.gov/reports/20110208_report_wmd.pdf.

11. Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Background Briefing with Senior U.S. Officials on Syria's Covert Nuclear Reactor and North Korea's Involvement, April 24, 2008, http://www.dni.gov/interviews/20080424_interview.pdf.

12. Olli Heinonen, "North Korea's Nuclear Enrichment: Capabilities and Consequences," 38 North Website, http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/publication/21153/north_koreas_nuclear_enrichment.html.

13. United Nations Security Council, Report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009), May 2012.

14. Kelsey Davenport, "N. Korea Continues to Evade Sanctions," Arms Control Today, http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2013_09/North-Korea-Continues-to-Evade-Sanctions.  

15. United Nations Security Council, Report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009), May 2013.

16. United Nations Security Council, Report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009), February 2014. 

17. United Nations Security Council, Report of the Panel of Experts established pursuant to resolution 1874 (2009), January 2015.  

 

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Posted: April 22, 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 3 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 now obsolete 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. This missile entered in to service in 2016.
    • 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: China

November 2015

Updated: March 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

Back to Top

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 June 2016 report from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists estimates that China possesses 260 warheads. China’s nuclear arsenal has been steadily increasing with respective figures placed at 240 in 2011 and 250 in 2013.  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 2016 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. 
  • 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 1,700 km.
    • 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 7,200 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.
  • There exists some doubt as to whether or not the JL-3 has already been developed, with some sources claiming a range of 12,000 km. 
  • 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 is the sole 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 29, 2008

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 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 UK 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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