Strategic Weapons: Still Disarming After All These Years


October 27, 2007: The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-I) is still being carried out. In the last six months, for example, Russia dismantled, with U.S. inspectors watching, 27 Topol (SS-25) ICBMs. The SS-25 was the first successful Russian solid fuel ICBM. It is comparable to the 1960s era U.S. Minuteman ICBMs. Solid fuel is tricky to manufacture, and after many failed attempts to develop it, the Russians ended up staying with liquid fuel until the 1980s. They finally perfected their solid fuel technology, with introduction of the 45 ton Topol in 1985. The 52 ton Topol-M followed ten years later, and is now replacing the Topol. In 1991, Russia had 290 Topol missiles deployed.

Complying with START I, the U.S. and Russia have dismantled thousands of missiles, submarines and bombers. Each country now has no more than 1,600 delivery vehicles, equipped with no more than 6,000 warheads. The treaty was signed in 1991, and expires on December 5th, 2009. It took eleven years to negotiate. At the end of the Cold War, both nations had a combined total of some 50,000 warheads. START I led to the dismantling of about 80 percent of these weapons. This was the largest disarmament effort in history, and it was signed five months before the Soviet Union collapsed.


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