Office of Russian and European-Analysis
Developing New Nuclear Warheads at Novaya Zemlya?
The Russian Security Council in late Apriluclear test program at Novaya Zemlya9 that is considerably more ambitious than the one conducted last year, according to press reports. In mid-May, citing "informedsources,"the newspaper Nezavisimaya gazeta reported that "far more money" would be spent on9 experiments than was allocated8 and that the new tests would be conductedompletely different qualitative level andatter of priority."
Although the Security Council refused to disclose the most sensitive aspects of its meeting, Security Council Secretary Putin emphasized to the press after the meeting that Russia needed to conduct additional nuclear experiments, implying that the Council agreedest plan. Increased resources. Ifthey materialize, would permit Russia lo carry out more than the five experiments It conducted last year and to broaden the objectives of the tests!
Public Russian statements suggest that one ofseveral probable objectives of this testing effort is the development of low-yield warheads. The development of Iow-yield warheads that could be used on m'gh-precision tactical weapon systemsadvocated hy former Minister and now First Deputy Minister of Atomic Energybe consistent with Russiancreasing reliance on nuclear weapons to deter conventional as well as nuclear attacks, especially given widespread perceptionseightened threat from NATO and the reduced capabilities of Russian conventional forces.
Defense officials also would be interested in low-yield warheads because of fearsuture conflict could be waged on Russian soil
Last Year's Nuclear Test Program
Citing First Deputy Minister of Atomic Energy29 Nezavisimaya gazeta article reported that five nuclear experiments were conducted at the Novaya Zcmlya test site betweeneptember and1
quoted by Ncza-.isimaya gazeta as staling that8 tests conducted incemraru^intothe rocjWweie carried out'In strict accordance withof-'.
Itis not clear howvcriuiient views hydronTKaeai tests under mo CTBT. JTydronuclear tests arccitly rrrobirrited nor.is thero #elrr ever used in thcC'IBTteaormanyo&crdo
mosl recentpaign,.statemeiiisin tic Russian press used the US term "subcritical" tothe cmerimenls, emdentry/to assert equivalence with the US program at theKevadatests
TheNezavisbnayvgazeta article implied mat the Russian test program included
ZJtwo| According to the article, the main objective
of recent experiments in both Russia and the United States was to certify the stability of
existing warhead types and noted that the experiments were also used to check out the characteristics of new-generation chemical explosives, presumably for use in either remanufactured or new warheads. The article noted that last year's experiments included tests of models of warheads that were being rebuilt after having been in service forrears.
The article cited the head of the Defenseh Main Direclorate-responsiblc for the storage and maintenance of nuclearsaying that Russia planned to "modernize" these warheads]
Press reporting suggests that8 test program was conductediscal shoestring, which may have limited the number and scope of the tests.h Main Directorate's head told Kommersant in8 mat the test sale had received during the previous year onlyercent of the funds that it needed for maintenance and might cease to exist altogether because of insufficient funding.!
More Ambitions Program Planned9
"Informed sources" stated lhat "far more money" will be spent on the nuclear experiments planned9 at Novaya Zemlya than was allocated for8 test program, according to the Nezavisimaya gazeta article. The new tests win reportedly be conductedompletely different qualitative level andatter ofhe same article cited Minister of Atomic Energy Adamov as sayingocument on this year's experiments at Novaya Zemlya had been "agreed in practice by every one" and was awaiting President Yel'tsin's signature.
enhanced priority and funding were probably agreed to during thepril meeting of the Russian Security Council. Council Secretary Putin emphasized to the press after the meeting that Russia needed toay to conduct nuclear tests without violating international agreements, suggesting that the Councileneral program forfuture nuclear testing. The document referred to by Adamov isetailed test plan for9 experiments.
the additional funds materialize, they could makeore ambitious test season this year involving more numerous or more complex experiments. Such an expansion would permit covering some of the objectives of last year's program in greater depth.
In addition, Russia would have to test these new warheadsorethus moreunder the CTST. Subcritscal (zero-yield} experiments would he unlikely to fully meet Russia's test objectives. Russian spokesmen are arguingroader interpretation ofpermitted activities under the CTBT, and Mikliaylov has explicitly advocated permitting hydronuclear (low-yield) experiments within sealedwe judge are far more useful for Russian weapons developmentOriginal document.