94 000 (census 2015)
N 54°49' E 43°22'
The Arzamas-16 is a closed city, located 450 km from Moscow. It was established
in 1946 and was the first Soviet nuclear weapons design and
Initially a KB-11 design bureau was established there, that was
developing nuclear weapons. Research and design activities began in
1947. During the same year security forced began to build a
perimeter across the closed area. In 1947 the city was removed from
all official Soviet maps and statistical documents. The isolation of
the area was completed by 1948. The existence of this
closed city was made public and appeared on the maps only in 1994.
This city is a home to two nuclear weapon facilities - design
institute and warhead assembly/disassembly facility. Today this city
is known as Sarov. It is the main Russian nuclear weapons design and
point this city was known under various provisional names, including "the installation", Base No.112,
"the site", Site 550, Arzamas-75 (early 1960s-1967), Arzamas-60, Gorkiy-130, Moscow-300,
and under other names. Between 1966 and 1991 the city was known as
Arzamas-16. In 1991, after collapse
of the Soviet Union, it was renamed Kremlyov. Since 1995
this city is know as Sarov.
design bureau, established in the late 1940s in this closed city,
developed and manufactured the first Soviet nuclear bomb. This bomb
was successfully tested in 1949. The first Soviet hydrogen bomb (or
thermonuclear bomb) was also developed and manufactured here. It was
successfully detonated in 1953.
The Arzamas-16 is located 75 km from the actual city Arzamas, which is the
largest city in the area. It was a typical trend in the Soviet Union
to name secret cities by the same names as nearby larger cities.
In a Soviet postal code system the
number 16 indicated that the city
was located 16 km from the city of Arzamas. In the early 1960s the city was named
Arzamas-75. However such name was soon criticized as it was exact
distance by road from Arzamas to to secret city. The name was
changed to Arzamas-60, but
the "60" was still considered too sensitive and after a
couple of years the number was changed to "16" in order to mislead.
Also, house numbers in such closed Russian cities had unusual
numbering. It was a continuation of the numbering of the closest
major city, in this case the Arzamas.
The Arzamas-16 can be compared with Los Alamos
of the United States. In the 1990s this closed city had a population
of approximately 83 000. Of them 20 000 people worked at the nuclear
weapons design institute, which houses the main Russian nuclear
weapon and scientific research laboratories. This institute has
extensive theoretical and experimental capabilities. It had a couple
of American supercomputers, acquired form the Silicon Graphics, that
were significantly faster than any previous supercomputers available
in Soviet Union or Russia. Another 10 000 people worked at the nuclear warhead
assembly plant, which produces explosive components of nuclear
warheads. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union the city expanded. In 2015 this closed city had a
population of 95 000.
The whole city
and its development and production factices are located within a
hexagonal restricted area with a size of 232 km˛. This area is
surrounded by a double barbed-wire fence. The spaces between the
fences are plowed and patrolled. The perimeter is guarded by the military.
Furthermore outer defensive ring of 40 km from the city is carefully
monitored. During the Cold War in this outer ring there was an
anti-aircraft missile regiment, and possibly a number of other
military units. The inner city is patrolled by the military and
troops of Ministry of Internal Affairs. There are a number of
restricted areas within the city, that house nuclear materials.
These are surrounded by multiple walls and fences. Sensors are used
to detect unauthorized intruders. The city has a small airfield with
an unusually wide runway.
live in this city, as well as other closed Russian cities, have to
obey strict internal rules. Until the mid 1950s, scientists, engineers and
other people who took part in development and production of nuclear
weapons, including their family members, could not leave the city. Even during their vacation. Some of the limitations were lifted as
the city was growing up. At some point people from the Arzamas-16
were allowed to travel to
the Arzamas, or other larger cities, but only on a special bus.
Union it was nearly impossible for outsiders to get to such secret
cities. Also these were completely closed for foreigners. Only
relatives could visit the people living in Arzamas-16, after they
received special permissions. Even today outsiders are not allowed
to the city.
always strict requirements for the newcomers. All of
them had and still have to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding
their location, research/production facilities, and so on.
strict internal rules there were some advantages for the people
living in such cities. Wages and welfare and were on a significantly
higher level than the country's average. In the Soviet Union closed
cities were well supplied, despite constant shortages all over the
country. Crime was nearly non existent.
are still developed in this closed city. Currently most Russian
nuclear weapons are made in Sarov. Another Russian principal nuclear
warhead design institute is located in Chelyabinsk-70 (since 1991
known as Snezhinsk).