Nuclear Weapons dismantling

Publish date: May 5, 1997

Written by: Igor Kudrik

Russia has dismantled almost 50 percent of its nuclear arsenal in compliance with international agreements, said Nuclear Energy Minister Viktor Mikhailov to Interfax on April 27.

Russia has an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 nuclear warheads, to be reduced to no more than 3,500 under the START II treaty between the United States and Russia. Russia’s hard-line parliament has refused to ratify the treaty despite President Boris Yeltsin’s urgings.

Mikhailov told Interfax that nearly 400 tons of highly enriched uranium has been removed from nuclear warheads. Already 18 tons of uranium have been sold to the United States.

Under an agreement between the two countries, Russia is to sell to the United States 500 tons of highly-enriched uranium from dismantled nuclear warheads – 40 percent of its stocks. The uranium is blended down from some 90% of enrichment to 4,4% – the level of enrichment suitable as fuel for nuclear power plants.

Mikhailov said his ministry plans to boost Russia’s 2 billion USD (1996) nuclear exports by 20%, through uranium export and construction of nuclear power stations in Iran, China and India.