Weapons of Mass Destruction

(WMDs)
   The Russian Federation possesses the world’s largest stockpiles of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons. Its nuclear arsenal includes thousands of strategic and tactical weapons, and, reportedly, a number of “suitcase” nuclear weapons. The large quantities of spent nuclear fuel that Russia processes each year have led to fears that terrorists might try to use the material to create a radiological or “dirty” bomb. The Soviet Union officially possessed an active biological weapons program until 1973, though informants suggest weapons development and testing continued until 1992 under Biopreparat, the “civilian” firm (funded by the Ministry of Internal Affairs) charged with disease control and biotechnology. Like the United States and other countries, Russia maintains samples of highly infectious strains of bacteria and viruses that could potentially be weaponized. During the Soviet era, the military produced thousands of tons of chemical weapons including sarin and other nerve gases, as well as mustard gas and other caustic agents suitable for use in artillery shells and tactical missiles. Russia ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention on 5 November 1997, declaring it possessed an arsenal of 40,000 tons of chemical weapons. Russia is technologically and financially assisted by the U.S. in its chemical weapons destruction program, and has sites in three different locations for this purpose: Kambarka, Udmurtiya; Gorny, Saratov Oblast; and Maradykovsky, Kirov Oblast.
   International experts, however, fear that lax security, disgruntled former scientists, and corruption could lead to some of these weapons reaching the black market. Reflecting the popular manifestation of such fears, a long list of American blockblusters depicting such scenarios appeared during the 1990s and 2000s, including The Peacemaker (1997), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999), XXX (2002), and The Sum of All Fears (2002). Russian arms exports and sales of dual-use technologies to Iran and North Korea also worry the international community.
   See also Pollution.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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