Safety and Security of Russian Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons Russia’s continued deployment of nonstrategic nuclear weapons has, in past years, raised concerns about their safety and security in storage areas and a possible lack of central control over their use when deployed in the field. Russia deployed these weapons, and continues to store many of them, at remote bases close to potential battlefields and far from the central command authority in Moscow. The economic chaos in Russia during the s raised questions about the stability and reliability of the troops charged with monitoring and securing these weapons and fostered concerns about the possibility that the weapons might be lost, stolen, or sold to other nations or groups seeking nuclear weapons Although economic conditions improved, these concerns persisted a decade later. During comments made after a speech in October 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that he was worried that the Russians did not know the numbers or locations of old landmines, nuclear artillery shells, and soon that might be of interest to rogue states or terrorists 134 “ Because of their size and forward basing, they are especially vulnerable to theft and unauthorized use. ” See William C. Potter and Nikolai Sokov, “ Nuclear Weapons that People Forget International Herald Tribune, May 31, 2000. 135 Walter Pincus, “ Gates Suggests New Arms Deal With Russia Washington Post, October 29, 2008, p. A.
Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons Congressional Research Service 34 Russian officials have denied that they might lose control over their nonstrategic nuclear weapons and they contend that the problems of the s were resolved as the weapons were withdrawn to central storage areas Moreover, there is no public evidence from Western sources about any episodes of lost, sold, or stolen Russian nuclear weapons.