The US might start funding the dismantling of Russian general-purpose submarines.
Russian nuclear attack submarines, or general-purpose submarines in Russian Navy vernacular, may be included in the Co-operative Threat Reduction program.
The request for aid to dismantle new submarine types came in a recent letter from Victor Mikhailov, Deputy Nuclear Minister, and was addressed to the US Departments of Energy, Defence as well as the State Department.
CTR was established in 1991 by the Department of Defence to help reduce formerly Soviet weapons of mass destruction. Since 1991, Congress has provided $2.3 billion to support CTR’s efforts.
An earlier request from Deputy Nuclear Minister, Nikolay Yegorov, specified that Russia had to dismantle 149 submarines, of which 30 were strategic and covered by CTR. Yegorov also wrote that by the year 2000, there would be a total of 179 boats, of which only 30 were covered by CTR.
Around 80 general-purpose submarines in the Russian Navy have already been pulled out of service or are earmarked for removal. Russia seems to also want American funds to deal with 30 cruise missile Echo-class and ballistic missile Hotel-class first-generation submarines and 25 second-generation ballistic missile Yankee-class boats.
One of the objectives of CTR was to dismantle Russian ballistic-missile submarines under the START 1 arms-reduction treaty. Three Russian naval shipyards (Nerpa and Zvezdochka in northwest Russia, and Zvezda in the Far East) received equipment and machinery to scrap the submarines. In past years, CTR has also funded radwaste treatment facilities and paid Russian shipyards to dismantle submarines. All in all, CTR plans to dismantle 31 strategic ballistic-missile submarines: 1 Yankee, 26 Deltas and 5 Typhoons.
CTR has received some criticism from the Russian side for removing spent fuel from relatively new strategic submarines. Yet for the most part, older general-purpose and first-generation strategic submarines remained intact, along with their fuel, for 15-20 years.
Rose Gottemoeller, an Energy Department official, stated yesterday that the US will launch a new program for the dismantling of general-purpose submarines after cost and project assessments have been made. Finding the financial means for the submarine reduction effort will now mean travelling one of two routes. CTR might make an official request to the U.S. Congress for funds from fiscal year 2001, or members of Congress presently debating the budget will ask for amendments to the 2000 budget, which comes into effect in October 1999. Since CTR ran into no opposition last year, the latter approach now appears possible.