This book describes the control system and the technological base of the nuclear weapon complex of the former Soviet Union. It describes the nuclear disarmament steps already taken and the choices to be made safely to dispose of the excess weapon fissile material. The authors assess the risks of loss of centralized control and of proliferation of nuclear hardware and knowledge both inside and outside the former Soviet Union.
The breakup of the Soviet Union left a cold war nuclear legacy consisting of tens of thousands of nuclear weapons and a sprawling infrastructure for their production and maintenance. The Soviet Nuclear Weapon Legacy examines the fate of this vast nuclear weapon complex and the unprecedented non-proliferation challenges associated with the breakup of a nuclear weapon state. It describes the high-level diplomatic bargaining efforts to consolidate in Russia the nuclear weapons based in newly independent Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine and to strengthen central control over these weapons. It surveys the problems associated with dismantling nuclear weapons and the difficulties involved in safely storing and disposing of large stockpiles of fissile material. It reviews the key provisions of the principal nuclear arms control measures and initiatives, including the START I and START II treaties. Finally, the authors assess the contribution of international assistance programmes to the denuclearization process under way in the former Soviet Union.
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