US and Russia exchanged submarine inspections

Publish date: May 15, 2003

The United States and Russia recently inspected some of each other's submarine-launched ballistic missiles, according to ITAR-Tass.

The inspections were conducted to check compliance with START, the 1991 strategic arms treaty that restricts each side to deploying no more than 6,000 strategic nuclear warheads. In Russia, U.S. experts inspected Typhoon submarines at Nerpichya Bay, northeast of the Kola Peninsula on April 24-27. They found no violations, according to ITAR-Tass. In the United States, Russian specialists recently visited the U.S. submarine base at Kings Bay, Ga. In a four-day visit, they found no treaty violations, ITAR-Tass reported. Both the United States and Russia reduced their strategic weapons to below treaty limits by the treaty deadline in 2001, and Russia has slowly continued to make reductions. In a treaty-mandated information exchange made public this month, Russia declared that in January it was deploying missiles and bombers capable of carrying 5,436 nuclear warheads, as counted under somewhat complicated treaty rules. That figure is less than the 5,483 warheads Russia declared in July 2002 and the 5,518 it declared in January 2002, reflecting attrition to Russian missile forces. Treaty rules require the parties to exchange information on their strategic holdings every six months and the United States releases the information about three months later. As for its forces, the United States declared it had 5,974 treaty-accountable nuclear warheads as of January. In July 2002, the United States declared 5, 927 and in January 2002 it declared 5,948 warheads. The recent increase of 47 warheads reflects the completion of another submarine conversion in a program to replace Trident 1 missiles, on which the United States loads as many as six warheads, with Trident 2 missiles, which are armed with as many as eight warheads. Each U.S. ballistic missile submarine can carry 24 missiles, so each conversion allows the upgraded boats to carry 48 more warheads, or a total of 192. The recent U.S. data also reflects the loss of B-1 bomber to a crash in the Indian Ocean. The B-1 bomber no longer has a nuclear role in the U.S. Air Force, but it remains accountable under the treaty.

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