[The following articles appeared between December 7, 1990, and January 26, 2000.]

SADDAM AND THE BOMB - December 7, 1990 Washington Post
U.S. STEPS UP EFFORTS TO COMBAT TERRORISM - November 7, 1993 Washington Post
BLACK MARKET PLUTONIUM - August 17, 1994 Washington Post
OFFICIALS SAY CONTRABAND NOT A THREAT - August 28, 1994 Washington Post
Near Accident - 16 Jul 1997 - Project Ploughshares
Missile Defense -- Extravagant and Unnecessary - May 30, 1996 Washington Post
Yeltsin Denies Selling Nuclear Arms to Iran; Russian General Also Says Reports of Missing Weapons Are False - September 27, 1997 Washington Post
Did Soviets build mini A-bombs? A look at what happened to miniature atomic weapons - September, 1997 NBC NEWS
N-dump would imperil Utah - December 7, 1997 Deseret News
Neutrons for sale - 13 December 1997 NEW SCIENTIST
New nuclear fears - 22 JANUARY 1998, The Economic Times of India
ARMY ON BRINK - Russian mafia "taking hold in military" - March 12, 1998, The Telegraph, London
AWOL ARSENAL - March 19, 1998 PBS NewsHour with Lebed
Yeltsin Called Unpredictable by Foe - March 19, 1998 Associated Press
The Man Who Would Be Governor: The Life and Times of Aleksander Lebed - Apr 23 1998 European Internet Network
DoD Briefing Tuesday - June 16, 1998, 2:15 p.m., General Eugene Habiger, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command
Defector Warns of Russian Plans - JULY 08, 1998 AP
U.S., Russia Study Potential for Subway Nuke Attack Next Stop, Ground Zero - July 10 1998
NUKES ON THE LOOSE; The black market in weapons components - January 10, 1999 Philadelphia Inquirer
Spying Intelligence Data Can Be an Open-Book; Test Firm Finds a Market for Publicly Available Information - March 22, 1999 Washington Post
The Blackest Market; Where It Goes - July 23, 1999
Techno-Spooks - October 17, 1999 Washington Post
Weldon: Russia left nukes here - November 8, 1999 Philadelphia Daily News
Secret Weapons in U.S. - November 8, 1999
And a Nuke Under Every Bed - January 26, 2000 Los Angeles Times



By Jessica Mathews Friday, December 7, 1990 ; Page A23 Washington Post

The administration has added Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program to its list of reasons why a war with Iraq may be necessary. This new justification was cited after polls showed it to be the only motive for fighting supported by a majority of Americans. Since the administration had until recently been relaxed to the point of offhandedness about Iraq's nuclear activities, critics have naturally enough claimed that the threat is now being exaggerated. This prompts angry countercharges from the Saddam-as-Hitler group, and the whole issue is becoming muddled at a time when clear thinking is more than usually valuable.

There can be no doubt that Iraq is trying to become a nuclear weapons state. That has been clear at least since 1980, and some would say since 1976, when Iraq purchased the Osiraq research reactor from France. When asked why a party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty would want such a large facility, Iraq said it needed to produce medical radioisotopes. In 1980 Iraq attempted to buy 25,000 pounds of depleted uranium, which could have no other use than to be irradiated inside Osiraq to produce plutonium. After that, even the most credulous could no longer swallow the peaceful program/medical research cover story.

There are five covert ways to acquire the fissile material for a nuclear weapon, two involving highly enriched uranium (HEU), two that use plutonium and one that could use either. Iraq has pursued all five.

One can buy a research reactor and then divert its highly enriched fuel. When the Israelis bombed Osiraq, they missed 12 kilograms (about 27 pounds) of its fuel, which is enough to make a single weapon and is the source of concern behind the estimates that Iraq might have a bomb in six to 12 months. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which inspects this suitcase-sized material twice a year, it could actually be readied for weapons use in one to three weeks (assuming the rest of the bomb is ready).

One can also build a centrifuge enrichment plant, buy uranium and then enrich it to weapons grade. This was the route Pakistan followed in its successful covert program. Such plants require materials and components that have few other uses, which Iraqi agents and front companies have been aggressively shopping for worldwide. However, building a large enough enrichment plant is no small undertaking. Intelligence estimates have generally concluded that it will take five to 10 years for Iraq to acquire weapons this way.

One can produce plutonium either by irradiating natural or depleted uranium in a research reactor, as Iraq attempted with Osiraq, or one can build a reprocessing plant. Iraq bought a laboratory scale reprocessing unit from Italy in the mid-'70s and tried to buy a full-sized one. But, like Pakistan, it now seems to have pinned its hopes on enrichment.

Finally, one can buy HEU or plutonium on the black market if it can be found, or one can steal it, probably from a civilian facility where security may be lax. Sting operations have shown that Iraq has tried to do the former, though without success. The latter belongs in the category that worries some experts most -- what Iraq may have that we don't know about. There is no evidence that such a theft has occurred in Iraq's case, but the possibility is not farfetched. It may have been the route by which Israel acquired its first HEU -- from an American facility.

Making a nuclear weapon entails a lot more than acquiring the fissile material, however. Iraq's sophisticated missile program can be taken as evidence that its technicians could be equal to the task, though not that they are ready today. Saddam's use of chemical weapons shows unequivocally that he is prepared both to use weapons of mass destruction and to violate treaty commitments in doing so.

The question remains whether any of this is relevant to the choice of whether to attack soon or to wait and see if sanctions will work. A military solution to either the immediate (one-week to one-year) threat or to the five-to-10 year possibility requires that intelligence be able to pinpoint where in Iraq the nuclear materials and facilities are (key components have certainly been scattered to as many sites as possible). If U.S. intelligence were that good, there would be much more certainty about the nature of the threat. There must also be high confidence that air strikes can destroy everything completely, including underground laboratories. The 1981 Israeli raid on Osiraq was a textbook example of pinpoint bombing, yet one weapon's worth of nuclear fuel remains. Inflicting permanent damage to the key facilities would probably require extensive use of ground troops in Iraq.

And what if sanctions force Iraq out of Kuwait? If, as the bulk of the evidence seems to suggest, Saddam still needs many items from abroad, the present crisis may improve the chances of stopping him. Nations that have supported his various programs with financial or technical assistance -- including Brazil, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait -- are not likely to do so again. Pakistan and China would be questionable, but international pressure and greater scrutiny could certainly be brought to bear. European countries where companies have inadvertently or knowingly made key exports -- including Germany, Switzerland and others already mentioned -- would presumably intensify their efforts to prevent any further sales.

If Saddam were to make and use a single bomb from his 12.5 kilos of HEU, he would be choosing national suicide. A U.S. attack might prevent that from happening, though such a small amount of material could be hidden by the Iraqis or smuggled to safety. Against the far more serious risk that Iraq is attempting to build a militarily significant nuclear arsenal, sanctions appear to be at least as effective as a military attack. There may be other reasons to opt for war over sanctions, but public opinion polls notwithstanding, the nuclear threat is not a strong one.




By Pierre Thomas and Thomas W. Lippman Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, November 7, 1993 ; Page A01

In the wake of the World Trade Center bombing and with new concerns about the unpredictability of the post-Cold War world, the federal government is developing new strategies to reduce the country's vulnerability to terrorists.

Some are single-agency responses to specific situations, like a new plan by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to increase security around nuclear reactors. Others, like a soon-to-be-completed State Department computerized lookout network, are part of a coordinated government effort to target potential terrorist activities abroad and be better prepared to respond to their threat here.

"The World Trade Center bombing brought home to all of us very graphically the dangers posed by terrorists," said Barbara K. Bodine, acting coordinator for counterterrorism at the State Department, in a recent speech. "There are other developments now or on the horizon that may give us all . . . pause."

The Feb. 26 bombing and the subsequent discovery of an alleged plot to blow up the United Nations drove home to law enforcement officials that even amateur terrorists can inflict immense damage within U.S. borders. It made government agencies, which have been enhancing their domestic counterterrorism efforts since the early to mid-1980s, rethink their strategies and realize that more coordination and planning is essential.

The threat of an apocalyptic war may have diminished. Even worldwide terrorism -- much of it directed at U.S. citizens abroad -- may be declining. But experts said the threat of terrorism within the United States appears to be higher. As the sole remaining superpower, often taking on a peacemaker role, the United States is likely to generate hostilities abroad and become a target, according to intelligence analysts.

New international developments that are of concern to U.S. agencies are the emergence of Islamic fundamentalist groups in Egypt and elsewhere, and the violent confrontations in the Balkans, Haiti and Somalia, where the U.S. role has been questioned.

Part of the challenge to federal agencies is the changing nature of terrorism, according to experts. Groups that have posed increasing concern in the United States and to its interests abroad are ad hoc confederations with limited technical training, perhaps without state sponsorship, coming together for a single operation such as the World Trade Center. The defendants charged in the World Trade Center and United Nations bomb plots are believed to be loosely knit groups that coalesced in New York-area mosques and had a common allegiance to the fiery teachings of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman.

Without constantly revamping its efforts, the government is incapable of following the formation and movements of these groups. The World Trade Center bombing, for example, showed the ingenuity of terrorists, who built a powerful bomb of easily obtainable materials, and were bold enough to act in one of the most populated cities.

A major planning role has fallen to the Defense Department, which is finishing a study of future terrorism trends that forecasts the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in a volatile world in which rich nations are pitted against poor ones.

The project, called "Terrorism Futures" and scheduled to be released early next year, outlines the forms of terrorism that are likely to develop over the next decade as a result of religious, ethnic and regional conflicts.

A Pentagon official said that when the study began nearly two years ago, he and his colleagues expected it would project that groups guided by "holy terror" or religious fervor would be the greatest threat. But the study determined that a greater source of potential trouble is an "us vs. them" mentality, in which fanatics from impoverished countries would attack industrialized nations.

The study also will review the potential for new forms of terrorism such as electronic sabotage and environmental terrorism, like that seen in Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War when Iraq set oil wells afire.

The study's main conclusion, according to a Pentagon official, is that "there will be proliferation of weapons of mass destruction," including biological, chemical and small nuclear devices.

"In the past, tens or perhaps hundreds of people got killed" by terrorist acts, this official said. "Now we have the potential for mass casualties. We can't stop it, so you have to develop strategies for dealing with it."

In this unstable new world order there is the growing threat that terrorists or so-called terrorist states such as Iran, Iraq or Libya could obtain such weapons. Iraq has repeatedly sought to acquire nuclear capability. Just last year, Iraqi agents murdered an Iraqi nuclear scientist who was seeking asylum abroad, State Department officials said.

"Terrorism, up until now, has depended exclusively on conventional weapons and tactics," Bodine said in her speech. "That could change over the coming decade."

Although intelligence sources would offer no new specific incidents to buttress their theory of a growing proliferation threat, they point to potential problems created by the splintering of the Soviet Bloc and the attendant chaos. Former Warsaw Pact officials with military training, experience and access to weapons stocks and technology might sell their wares, officials worry.

The fear of nuclear proliferation is powerful enough to sustain a federal response on several fronts.

At the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, nuclear weapons scientists have begun working on "counter-proliferation," said John D. Immele, associate director for nuclear weapons technology.

The question is, "What if we decide we need to take out a nuclear facility somewhere?" as Israel did by bombing the Osirak reactor under construction in Iraq in 1981. If a nation is violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty by producing plutonium or creating weapons-grade uranium, and the United States wants to destroy its facilities, "What kind of weapon should be used?"

The scientists are trying to determine what weapons would destroy the facility and at the same time minimize leaks of radioactivity or toxic plutonium into the atmosphere, Immele said. This issue did not arise at Osirak because the reactor had not been put into operation when Israel attacked it.

Partly in an attempt to send a message to potential nuclear terrorists, the Energy Department has begun publicizing a little-known unit created in 1975: the Nuclear Emergency Search Team, or NEST.

NEST, which has a $25 million annual budget, is a group of nuclear weapons experts from the Energy Department's laboratories and weapons plants who would be dispatched to help find and render harmless any radioactive device planted -- or claimed to have been planted -- by terrorists.

With most of its equipment based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., NEST has planes, helicopters and sophisticated devices for detecting radiation that can be mounted on aircraft or carried in ordinary suitcases. About 800 scientists, engineers, technicians and support personnel from around the nation are "on-call" to respond in the event of an incident. NEST has been called out dozens of times, but the calls proved to be hoaxes.

When the FBI receives a threat, it asks an emergency management team at Energy Department offices in Germantown, Md., to assess its credibility. It responds with a minimum of two people to give an assessment. A major response could involve airplane-loads of equipment and several hundred people.

"Obviously we think that this {a nuclear strike by terrorists} is a possibility," said Energy Department spokesman Sam Grizzle.

Such an attempt by terrorists may be a "long shot," Bodine said in her speech. "But who would have thought that a small group of extremists in New Jersey would manage to build the device that wounded 1,000 people {and killed six others} at the World Trade Center last February?"

For years the NRC has planned for attacks on the nation's reactor plants with armed response teams and all manner of detection systems. But in recent years, the commission has developed a closer working relationship with the nation's intelligence community.

After the World Trade Center bombing and another, lesser-known incident at Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Middletown, Pa., the NRC was reminded of its vulnerability.

Last January, Three Mile Island officials declared a "site emergency" when an intruder crashed a station wagon through a chain-link fence and disappeared on the site for four hours. The man was unarmed, but NRC officials say they decided that more precautions were needed. Now, they are considering regulations that would require vehicle barriers at all plant locations.

The State Department is almost finished with a new computerized lookout network that it hopes will prevent the issuance of visas to suspected terrorists, as apparently happened with Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian cleric who entered the country repeatedly despite the government's knowledge of his alleged involvement in terrorism.

Under pressure from Congress, the State Department began updating its lookout system for undesirables. About 90 percent of all U.S. embassies now have direct computer links. The key is to have information readily available and to share it with other agencies such as the Immigration and Naturalization Service. The government has been constantly updating a system in which federal agents, diplomats, intelligence analysts and military officials all play roles.

The FBI has refocused its existing counterterrorism section in recent years, adding detailees from the Energy Department, the Defense Department and the CIA. The group, which is constantly altering its approach, is examining a range of global terrorist threats from the Middle East to South and Central America.

Two years ago, the FBI created a special section focusing on threats from Iran. According to State Department officials, the Iranian fundamentalist government sanctioned murders in Germany last year and this year conducted attacks in Turkey and Italy. Syria, Libya, sundry Middle Eastern terrorist groups and Iraq also receive intense FBI scrutiny.

"When you look at the terrorist threat, so much seems to point toward Iran," said Neil J. Gallagher, who heads the FBI counterterrorism section. "Two years ago, we said they needed added attention."

About a year earlier the FBI created a database of potential targets that could cripple sections of the nation -- ranging from the Alaskan pipeline to water supplies and power stations serving major metropolitan areas. Now if a threat is received the sites can be contacted immediately.

The CIA, which reorganized itself to respond to terrorist attacks against Americans in the mid-1980s, is making administrative changes to expedite the flow of information to different agencies.

The clearinghouse for all information about terrorist threats to U.S. interests is the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, created in 1986 on orders from President Ronald Reagan after the gunpoint hijacking of a TWA airliner.

Although 20 employees of other government agencies are detailed to the center, only CIA employees furnish "finished analysis" for policymakers. Now the CIA plans to add analysts from other government agencies to expand the reservoir of expertise.

"The threats are ever changing and your response must be ever changing," Gallagher said.




By Steve Coll Washington Post Foreign Service Wednesday, August 17, 1994 ; Page A01

VIENNA, AUG. 16 -- VIENNA, AUG. 16 -- Western scientists investigating the origins of three batches of smuggled bomb-grade nuclear materials seized in Germany have found detailed evidence that the materials came from Russian nuclear weapons facilities, according to officials familiar with the work.

In what specialists see as the most troubling case, involving the seizure of more than 12 ounces of plutonium in Munich last week, preliminary lab results point to plutonium reprocessing facilities at top-security Russian military nuclear installations, the officials said.

Material seized in one of the earlier cases, the officials added, led scientists to focus on a laboratory at a Russian complex called Arzamas-16, a once secret site that is part of a vast network of nuclear weapons facilities in the former Soviet Union.

The lab evidence available so far suggests that none of the seized materials has come directly from Russian nuclear warheads, although more work on this question remains to be done. But each of the three batches does appear to have come from auxiliary nuclear fuel and enrichment facilities inside Russian military nuclear complexes, according to several officials familiar with the investigation.

The emerging evidence has shaken the assumption of many nuclear proliferation specialists that while Russia's civilian nuclear facilities might be chaotic and vulnerable to low-grade thefts, its military nuclear network was firmly intact.

"The common wisdom from me was that the military establishment was still in charge" at key facilities, said one senior official familiar with the investigation. "Now we can't be so sure." {Today, German authorities disclosed a fourth alleged smuggling incident, according to the Reuter news agency -- a former East German arrested last Friday at a train station in Bremen as he tried to sell a minute amount of plutonium, less than a milligram.} Like homicide detectives combing a murder scene for fingerprints and other physical clues, Western nuclear scientists are carefully examining the properties of the materials seized by German police from would-be nuclear bomb brokers during the last three months.

The arrest in Munich last week of two Spaniards and a Colombian carrying plutonium-239 in a lead-lined suitcase -- the largest seizure of smuggled weapons-grade nuclear material to date -- has made their work all the more urgent.

The key laboratory analysis is being carried out mainly by German scientists at the European Trans-Uranium Institute in Karlsruhe, Germany. The results of their tests are being passed to scientists elsewhere in Europe and in the United States for further review and investigation, officials said.

The scientific work is painstaking, complex and unfinished. Only the active cooperation of Russian authorities in tracing the materials would provide certainty about where they came from and who stole them, officials said.

A German government envoy is scheduled to reach Moscow this weekend with the latest lab results and with pleas for Russian help in the investigations. The trip comes amid public sniping between Bonn and Moscow over the smuggling cases and worries that Russia is not doing enough to plug nuclear leaks.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Michael McCurry said the U.S. Embassy in Moscow has told Russian officials "that this is a matter that is serious and ought to be treated with a great deal of urgency."

Moscow has confirmed to the International Atomic Energy Agency that one thwarted theft of 6.6 pounds of weapons-grade uranium occurred in St. Petersburg this summer, according to people familiar with the matter. But Russia has offered no details about the three German cases involving bomb-grade materials because it has yet to receive a detailed lab analysis, these people said.

Meanwhile, German police and Western intelligence agencies are trying to trace back the supply networks of 10 suspects now imprisoned in Germany in the three cases, which are apparently unrelated. They are also looking for any potential buyers of smuggled weapons-grade materials -- but so far have no firm evidence that such buyers ever existed.

Physicists are developing detailed atomic profiles of the plutonium and uranium seized, as well as profiles of other elements that were mixed into the three smuggled batches. These scientific profiles are typically called "fingerprints" or "signatures" and can provide strong indications as to exactly where the batches of nuclear material came from.

To understand the profiles being developed by investigators, and the clues they offer about leaks from Russian military facilities, it is necessary first to understand a few basics about nuclear bombs.

For a nuclear bomb to work, it must contain substantial quantities of either plutonium-239 or uranium-235, both of which are isotopes -- distinct variations of single chemical elements. One of the most difficult tasks in making a nuclear bomb is separating into nearly pure form the plutonium-239 and uranium-235. Once this is accomplished, the elements are called "highly enriched," their purity measured in percentages.

Nuclear bomb makers then, in effect, weld the enriched uranium or plutonium with other chemical elements and turn it into a form of metal, which is both more stable and more suitable for the shapes and triggers necessary in a workable bomb.

The lab analysis underway in the three German smuggling cases involves three basic questions: Exactly how enriched is the sample? What other isotopes -- besides plutonium-239 and uranium-235 -- are present, and in exactly what amounts? And finally, what other materials are in the batch?

The specific answers to these questions -- a fingerprint -- may not be immediately conclusive as to the origins of the batch. But they often provide a strong sense of direction and, in some cases, virtual certainty about how the sample was created and where it came from, because different nuclear facilities have different patterns of manufacture. More precise matching can then be done, using the records of the suspected sites.

The most intensive lab investigations in Karlsruhe this week concern the 12 to 14 ounces of plutonium-239 seized from the two Spaniards and one Colombian arrested in Munich after flying to Germany from Moscow,

Bavarian police announced Monday that lab tests had shown the plutonium-239 was enriched to 87.2 percent, somewhat less than normal for a plutonium-based bomb. In addition, other officials said, about 10 percent of the batch was plutonium-240, an isotope that prevents nuclear bombs from working properly. Also, the batch was in powder form, not metal, and contained trace elements usually found in samples from Russian reprocessing facilities.

These facts together suggest that the sample came not from a Russian nuclear warhead but from a plutonium reprocessing plant at a Russian military complex, officials said.

Urgent lab work is continuing in Germany to see if the seized plutonium-239 powder contains traces of the metals used to fabricate nuclear bombs. The scientists hope to have an answer before German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's special envoy, Bernd Schmidbauer, visits Moscow later this week.

Even if the plutonium-239 did not come from a warhead, the Munich seizure is still alarming because plutonium that highly enriched could provide a basis for work on a crude nuclear weapon. Also, if so large a batch of plutonium was smuggled from a Russian plant, as investigators suspect, the incident demonstrates that there are holes in the Russian military nuclear network.

Even stronger evidence of leaks from Russian military nuclear facilities is available in another smuggling case, the first of the recent seizures, officials involved said.

That case began in May when German police investigating an alleged counterfeiter and traveling salesman named Adolf Jaekle seized a 2.5-ounce batch of mixed nuclear and non-nuclear materials from Jaekle's garage. Within the mixed batch, scientists later found about one-fifth of an ounce of plutonium-239.

The plutonium had an unusual profile, however. Plutonium-239 was present in 99.7 percent of the batch, a high degree of purity typically found in weapons.

At first investigators were not at all sure what to make of this strange brew, and they still have questions about it today. But recently they discovered a paper written by N.V. Polynov, a nuclear physicist from Russia's Arzamas-16 nuclear weapons complex, and presented at a September 1993 scientific conference in Santa Fe, N.M.

Polynov described how his lab developed a process to separate out small amounts of highly pure plutonium-239, officials familiar with his paper said. The purity was so remarkable that small samples were distributed to other Russian nuclear facilities, the officials said.

As scientists working on the German smuggling case looked closely at the figures in Polynov's paper, they discovered that the predicted combinations of isotopes exactly described the plutonium they had in hand.

Thus the prevailing assumption among investigators is that Jaekle's plutonium came from the Arzamas-16 lab process. But since samples apparently were distributed elsewhere in Russia, it is not clear from where the batch that ended up in Jaekle's garage was stolen. Confirming the hypothesis and tracking the point of theft would require Russian help, officials said.

There was one particularly disturbing question: Present in the cocktail of elements in the batch seized from Jaekle was a small amount of gallium, a metal frequently used to stabilize plutonium-239 in nuclear warheads. The gallium's presence initially raised the nightmarish scenario that Jaekle's brew had come directly from a Russian nuclear weapon. But the scientists discounted this possibility when they found the gallium never actually adhered to the plutonium, as would be typical in a bomb.

The amateurish mix of other metallic elements in the Jaekle batch indicates the brew may have been concocted to convince naive buyers that some new shortcut to nuclear explosives had been invented, officials also said. Such attempted swindles are commonplace in the more than 100 nuclear smuggling cases that German police say they have detected since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

An attempted scam also appears to be at the heart of the third recent German smuggling case, this one involving less than four one-hundredths of an ounce of highly enriched uranium-235 seized in June in Landshut, Germany, officials said. Six people have been arrested in that case, which was disclosed by German police last week.

Laboratory analysis of the uranium sample, which is far too tiny to be of much use in weapons fabrication, has determined that it is enriched to 87.5 percent of the uranium-235 isotope -- what one official called "a strange enrichment" on the borderline between potential weapons and non-weapons ranges.

The pellet form provides one clue to its possible origins, officials said, as highly enriched pellets typically would be used in nuclear propulsion, as in a nuclear submarine. Officials said the sample could have come from a facility producing fuel for nuclear submarines, from a nuclear submarine reactor itself or from a research facility.

Articles appear as they were originally printed in The Washington Post and may not include subsequent corrections.



Wednesday, August 17, 1994 ; Page A18 Washington Post

LIKE A LEAK in a dike, the trickle of smuggled plutonium turning up in Germany is ominous all out of proportion to the small amounts involved. The shipments have the aspect of salesmen's samples -- just enough to show buyers that the smugglers have pipelines to the real stuff. There's an unpleasant implication that the recently seized material may have been intended to set up larger deliveries. The only conceivable purpose of black market plutonium is to make nuclear weapons.

The German authorities announced yesterday that they had confiscated two grams of weapons-grade plutonium from a suspect in Bremen -- the fourth case of this kind in three months. The largest amount seized was the 300 grams of plutonium that arrived in a lead-lined suitcase on a plane from Moscow to Munich. Before that, police arrested six smugglers with a gram of highly enriched uranium. Before that, they found five grams of plutonium in a garage near the Swiss border.

One question is why all these discoveries have been in Germany. Perhaps it's because these new trade routes involve former East German secret police. But it's also possible that highly radioactive materials are moving in all directions, and it's only that the German authorities are more effective than others in intercepting them. You have to wonder whether similar shipments may be moving southward to Iran and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Russia denies that it is the source of this radioactive contraband, but chemical analysis in Germany strongly suggests otherwise. The Russian military continues to assert that it has reliable control over its nuclear weapons and, fortunately, there's no evidence to the contrary. But the rest of the former Soviet Union's nuclear complex is an altogether different matter -- the gigantic system of plants and laboratories producing and enriching nuclear materials. Inflation has diminished salaries there to pittances. Morale is low in these plants, and discipline is sagging.

Germany's Chancellor Helmut Kohl says that he will send an envoy to Moscow to discuss the situation. The United States has been offering financial help. But not much of that money has actually been spent because of the chaos in Russia, and now the congressional appropriations committees are unwisely cutting back the amounts available. There's an increasingly urgent case for a much more muscular (and expensive) international effort to ensure the security of Russia's plutonium and enriched uranium -- if the Russians can be persuaded to accept it.



By Rick Atkinson Washington Post Foreign Service Column: POLITICS OF PLUTONIUM Sunday, August 28, 1994 ; Page A01

BERLIN -- BERLIN -- Two weeks after the seizure by German police of a large quantity of contraband plutonium, investigators in Europe and the United States have concluded that the threat to public safety from smuggled radioactive materials may have been substantially exaggerated by German officials.

Those investigating the contraband plutonium and enriched uranium confiscated in Germany this summer acknowledge that they still have more questions than answers about the origins and intended buyers of the material. Nor do they discount the potentially catastrophic consequences of uncurbed nuclear smuggling.

But interviews with officials in Vienna, Frankfurt, Bonn, Luxembourg and Washington indicate that while the contraband probably came from Russia, there is no firm evidence that it was diverted from nuclear weapons or weapons production lines. Nor is there evidence that bomb-building fissile material has fallen into unauthorized hands. Nor has proof emerged of an organized "Russian mafia" brokering radioactive contraband or of rogue Third World states seeking to buy black-market plutonium.

In fact, some law enforcement officials suspect that at least part of the recent uproar may be a case of the tiger chasing its tail -- that aggressive undercover sting operations intended to bait and snare nuclear smugglers have created an artificial demand for radioactive material.

A further complication is that the irresistible combination of crime and nuclear bombs has become a campaign issue in Germany as federal elections draw closer this fall. A leading opposition politician charged this week -- without offering any proof -- that the government cynically staged several recent arrests of nuclear crooks to bolster Chancellor Helmut Kohl's law-and-order image.

Anti-proliferation experts take pains to stress the gravity of nuclear smuggling, while expressing hope that this month's furor accelerates plans to safeguard nuclear stockpiles. "We don't have a crisis," one U.S. official said. "We have a serious problem."

All agree that the extraordinary purity of one contraband plutonium stash recently seized in Germany was particularly alarming, as was the relatively large size of the plutonium cache found in another bust.

"It is serious, but not very serious," said David Kyd, spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna. "Serious in that the quality of some samples is exceptionally high, but not very serious in that there's no indication of organized trafficking here... . There doesn't appear to be anybody big time out there in a purchasing mode."

Harald Mueller, a top nonproliferation expert at Frankfurt's Peace Research Institute, added: "My guess is we're still dealing with a trickle and not with a stream. As long as it's only a trickle, we have an opportunity to stem the stream. But that supposes that we do a lot in the next weeks or months."

The "trickle" became manifest in four German incidents in as many months, two of them considered particularly worrisome. On May 10, in the southwest German town of Tengen, police arrested a suspected counterfeiter named Adolf Jaekle. In his garage, they found 2.4 ounces of radioactive powder that included one-fifth of an ounce of 99.75 percent-pure plutonium-239 -- the same isotope, although with a higher purity, as that used in hydrogen bombs.

The other especially alarming incident came Aug. 10, when a Colombian and two Spaniards were arrested at the Munich airport after a flight from Moscow. In a suitcase, investigators found 20 ounces of radioactive material, much of it composed of 87.2 percent-pure plutonium-239, again the same telltale isotope but this time at lower purity than is commonly used in bombs.

Yet the Tengen and Munich seizures were only the most recent and most sinister of hundreds of nuclear smuggling cases in the past few years. In 1990, according to federal police statistics, German authorities investigated four cases of suspected nuclear contraband. The numbers climbed to 41 in 1991, 158 in 1992 and 241 last year. Through the first six months of this year, 90 cases had been investigated.

The majority have been simple frauds, hucksters seeking gullible buyers for the nuclear equivalent of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Speculation about prospective buyers has led in recent weeks to assertions -- none proven -- of involvement by the North Koreans, the Pakistanis, Basque separatists, Saddam Hussein and sundry others. Bernd Schmidbauer, Kohl's intelligence coordinator and a man whose passion for intrigue is suggested by the nickname "Agent 008," told the parliament on Thursday that "it is not absurd to believe that buyers may be acting on behalf of governments." Schmidbauer provided no details, nor did he elaborate on his assertion that former East German Stasi secret police officials may be involved in the trade.

Most proliferation experts, in fact, say they believe that the nuclear peddlers thus far have been greedy freelancers -- "traders or adventurers or opportunists," as Mueller put it. "Like gentlemen of the old Wild West who went into a gold digger's camp and were willing to do anything to make a dollar... . That appears to be the mentality of the people caught so far."

"Whereas we're seeing people trucking this stuff west," said Kyd of the IAEA, "we are not aware of anybody really seriously being in the market to buy this stuff -- neither terrorists nor intermediaries who might have government clients."

Schmidbauer this week acknowledged "there are no indications that central mafia-like structures are involved" in the trade -- an oft-repeated hypothesis -- and U.S. State Department spokesman Michael McCurry said, "We are not aware of what I would describe as a black market for diverted fissile material."

The sellers "have no clear indication of who their final customers will be," Mueller added. "They hope there will be somebody around to buy the stuff."

In virtually all cases disclosed thus far, that "somebody" has been an undercover agent. Some officials fear the spiraling number of cases in Germany has as much to do with clandestine police offers of huge bounties for fissile material as it does with poor security at former Soviet stockpiles.

"There's no evidence of a real market for plutonium in Germany," Hans Georg von Bock und Polach, the Bremen prosecutor, recently observed. "There's a hazard that our interest in pursuing criminals is bringing danger to Germany. As law enforcers we simply can't do that."

Another lawyer involved in the issue, Werner Leitner, told German television, "Undercover agents, policemen, spies and journalists are all working on this market. The millions offered in the business are waking up sleeping dogs and attracting lots of copycats."

Without such an artificial lure, some security officials believe, it seems unlikely that smugglers would descend on Germany, with its highly trained police forces and sophisticated detection devices.

But Mueller disagrees. "Put yourself in the shoes of somebody in Moscow standing with a few grams of plutonium and considering where to go," he said. "For the Russians, there are two paradises: One is Germany and the other is the U.S. The U.S. is very far away. Germany is close by; it's a country with 80 million people and a lot of trade in chemicals and metals."

Federal authorities say they have done no more than set a snare for those who already had nuclear larceny in their hearts. "Once the stuff started coming into Germany in '91 and '92, what would you expect our police to do?" one German nonproliferation authority said. "If they had done nothing, the same journalists who now are floating this particular hypothesis would have chewed them up."

Still unresolved is the source of the recently seized contraband. Euratom, the European atomic regulatory commission, has concluded that the extremely pure plutonium found in Tengen originated at one of three Russian plants: Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk or Arzamas-16. But investigators say it may have been pilfered from one of several research institutes, which had received samples of the isotope.

Euratom continues to analyze the larger, less pure batch discovered in Munich, but results thus far indicate it "presumably" came from Russia, Georges Herbillon, assistant to the safeguards directorate, said in a telephone interview from Luxembourg.

Publicly, the U.S. government has refused to finger Russia as the source. One official, however, on condition of anonymity, said this week: "It's clear that some of these contraband shipments came from Russia. All of them most likely came from somewhere in the former Soviet Union."

Although Herbillon said Euratom considers the Tengen plutonium to be "weapons-grade" -- suitable for a bomb -- Washington has concluded that the purity of the isotope more likely indicates it was "some kind of calibration sample or special purpose sample used for scientific and measurement applications," a U.S. official said. None of the material confiscated in Germany this summer, the official added, suggests that security at former Soviet nuclear weapons facilities has been breached.

Investigators are in fact less interested in where the substance was made than in determining where and how it was stolen. "When you talk about security," a State Department official said, "the point is who had it last, not who made it."

And to unravel that mystery, Mueller added, requires Russian cooperation. "The secret is with the Russians," he said. "They know the history of their own nuclear programs... . We can narrow the range of possibilities, but not pinpoint it."

How forthcoming the Russians will be -- both in these investigations and in the broad range of nonproliferation issues -- remains perhaps the most critical question facing the West. Bonn and Washington both assume Moscow will be animated by enlightened self-interest, seeing no benefit in sharing its nuclear stockpile with aspirants to the nuclear club.

After bridling at earlier German accusations of lax security, Russian officials this week welcomed a conciliatory gesture by Schmidbauer. Both sides signed an agreement calling for closer ties in the fight against smugglers. As a sign of good faith, Russian security officials trumpeted the arrest of two men trying to steal 22 pounds of low-grade uranium, although an Atomic Energy Ministry spokesman said the stuff was so harmless it could be used "to make presses for buckets of sauerkraut."

In Germany, such assurances are less than soothing. An alarmed electorate -- recent polls indicate two-thirds of all Germans feel directly threatened by nuclear smugglers -- has propelled the issue into Germany's political arena, with a potential impact on Russian-German relations.

Finance Minister Theo Waigel recently implied, for example, that continued financial aid to Russia might be contingent on Russian vigor in thwarting smugglers. Guenter Verheugen, campaign manager for the opposition Social Democrats, suggested on Thursday that "these most poisonous of poisons were brought to Germany with the help of German authorities. This smacks of a stunt." Schmidbauer called the charge "absurd, monstrous and pure polemic," while Rudolf Scharping, the Social Democratic candidate for chancellor in the Oct. 16 election, today distanced himself from Verheugen's accusation.

Nonproliferation experts believe one benefit of this month's uproar is to move nuclear smuggling to the fore as an international issue. European Union interior and foreign ministers will take up the matter in separate meetings in early September, as will Kohl and Russian President Boris Yeltsin when Yeltsin visits Berlin next week for the departure of the last Russian troops in Germany. Nuclear promiscuity also has been placed on the agenda of the summit meeting between Yeltsin and President Clinton in late September.

"Suddenly, the question of what I would describe as a trickle of nuclear material is back in the minds of the political leadership, not just of Germany but of the United States and other places," Kyd said.

"We've been dealing with this whole thing as if it was a normal problem," said Mueller. "But it's an emergency. If you have a fire in your house, you don't send a commission to investigate the fire department."

Added a U.S. official: "We think this is goddamn serious. It's something we've been working to prevent. Having seen these little smuggling episodes, we want to turn them off and make sure we don't get others that are genuine security problems."


FORMULA FOR TERROR The former Soviet arsenal is leaking into the West, igniting fears of a new brand of nuclear horror

COVER/TIME Domestic, August 29, 1994 Volume 144, No. 9

By BRUCE W. NELAN Reported by Lara Marlowe/Beirut, Elaine Shannon/Washington, Bruce van Voorst/Bonn and Yuri Zarakhovich/Moscow

On a sunny afternoon in central Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic, two private security guards and a trading-company executive strolled along a quiet street. They were expecting to meet a middle-aged man from St. Petersburg. In exchange for $1 million, they would hand over an 8-in. by 8-in. metal container holding highly radioactive material. But as the traders and their client were about to make their open-air swap in mid-August, 15 police officers rushed out to grab them. The police seized the 130-lb. case emitting gamma radiation. Until a specialized laboratory can examine the material, the police cannot be sure what it is or where it was stolen from, but they believe it is dangerous - and illicit. This is the second major case of nuclear theft that Vladimir Kolesnik, the deputy chief of St. Petersburg's organized-crime department, has thwarted since last May. "The problem," he says, "is that security standards have slackened, and virtually everybody who has access to nuclear materials could steal something."

The first symptoms of the nuclear plague are spreading into Europe. After years of scares and false alarms - almost all the supposed bomb-grade goods on offer turned out to be fraudulent - German police have in the past four months uncovered four cases of smuggled nuclear material that could actually be used to make an atom bomb. The biggest haul came on Aug. 10, when Lufthansa Flight 3369 from Moscow landed in Munich with 350 grams of atomic fuel aboard. As it happened, so was Viktor Sidorenko, Russia's Deputy Minister for Atomic Energy, whose agency supervises Moscow's stocks of fissionable materials. The lead-lined suitcase was carrying MOX - mixed-oxide fuel for reactors but perfectly usable in a bomb since it contained plutonium enriched to 87%. A Colombian and two Spaniards were arrested. While the Germans made it clear that they did not suspect Sidorenko of any involvement in the case, they had no doubts that it was the deputy minister's country from which the dangerous stuff had come. It was, said Bavarian Interior Minister Gunther Beckman, "the biggest-ever plutonium find in Germany, and probably the world."

Two days later, at a railway station in Bremen, a 34-year-old German man was arrested trying to peddle a sample of plutonium to a journalist acting for the police. The seller had only a very tiny amount, .05 gram, but of such startling purity that experts said it probably came from a top-of-the-line Russian nuclear laboratory. Senior officials in Moscow reacted defensively, insisting that all their plutonium was accounted for and safely under guard. The accusation from Germany, blustered Deputy Atomic Energy Minister Yevgeni Mikenin, "is a provocation of the purest water."

The world's first notice that weapons-grade plutonium was on the open market came in southern Germany last May, when 6 grams were found in a garage owned by a German businessman who had been arrested for counterfeiting. That was followed in June by recovery of less than a gram of highly enriched uranium - probably fuel from a nuclear-powered submarine - in Landshut. Even if all this smuggled booty were put together, there would not be enough for the smallest and crudest atom bomb, which in the hands of inexperienced makers would take about 8 kg of plutonium.

Even so, the emergence of a black market for the essential material of mass destruction is a historic and nightmarish challenge for the world. It makes the threat of nuclear proliferation far more urgent and increases the number of characters who could do it themselves. "We've crossed a threshold. You smuggle small amounts of the stuff often enough, and you've got a bomb," says Leonard Spector, director of the nonproliferation project at Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. The arrival of these nuclear samples on the German market is a red alert, raising immediate questions about what is happening in other countries and who the potential users might be. If such snippets are on sale in Germany, what larger deals might be going undetected elsewhere? If bomb-grade plutonium is finally on sale, will a rogue state or terrorist group step up to buy enough to build a bomb?

Such fears have a foundation: the world has seen terrorism continuously evolve to new heights of ingenuity and depravity. This week Carlos the Jackal is in jail in France, and North Korea is using the threat of nuclear weapons to try to extort billions from its neighbors. Their juxtaposition in the news, linking the worst of 1970s-style terrorism with the brazen threat of irresponsible nuclear ambitions, shouts a warning of a different sort of terror, still indefinable but extremely frightening. The combination of brutality and fanaticism with nuclear weapons could bring about disasters almost too chilling to contemplate.

The old wave of terror, personified by Ilyich Ramirez Sanchez, is ebbing. "Carlos," says Paul Wilkinson, an expert on terrorism at St. Andrews University in Scotland, "symbolized a terrorism of the extreme left which has almost died out in Europe." Carlos and his Soviet, Marxist and leftist Palestinian allies represent failed ideologies. The inheritors today are nameless Islamic extremists from Hizballah, Hamas and their sponsors - everyone thinks first of Iran as chief sponsor - who see themselves as the force of the future in the Middle East. While their cause is the same - derailing the peace process and destroying Israel - the Islamists do not need a secular professional like Carlos.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of extremists willing to use them would produce terrorism of a wholly new magnitude. The central logic of terrorism is to maximize horror and shock, producing a blaze of publicity and attention for the cause it represents. By that measure, the crudest of fission bombs set off in a modern city, vaporizing entire blocks, would make the crimes of Carlos and his ilk rank as little more than pinpricks.

WHO ARE THE SELLERS? Beyond terrorism, if significant amounts of plutonium are beginning to flow from Russia, they could make the development of nuclear weapons much easier for states that up to now have found bomb programs too expensive and technically beyond their capabilities. Countries such as North Korea and Pakistan, which have some plutonium of their own, as well as countries such as Iran and Libya that would like to, might begin to look seriously at what is on offer in the new marketplace. "There is already far more bomb-quality nuclear material in Germany than the authorities can imagine," said Russian atomic expert Vladimir Chernosenko, who was one of the officials charged with cleaning up the Chernobyl nuclear accident. "If economic conditions in Russia do not improve soon, there will be an outflow organized from the highest echelons."

To help prevent that, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl sent intelligence coordinator Bernd Schmidbauer to Moscow on Saturday to talk with President Boris Yeltsin about ways to tighten controls over nuclear stocks. "We have to tell our Russian friends," said Kohl, "you must guarantee that these possibilities for theft are reduced as much as possible."

Some Russian officials continue to deny that their facilities are the source of the leaks into Germany. "Not a single gram of plutonium-239 is missing from storage," a spokesman for the Federal Counter-Intelligence Service insisted last week. "Our storage system is as reliable as a bank vault," claimed Alexander Rumyantsev, director of the Kurchatov Institute, a leading nuclear laboratory in Moscow.

Conditions in Russia more closely resemble a bazaar than a bank. Industry and most sectors of the economy are tottering; workers are mostly unpaid. Poor people are inventive, goes a Russian proverb, and the poorer they are the more inventive they become. Among the most aggrieved are the 100,000 workers employed in national nuclear plants and laboratories, whose salaries have slid to $100 a month - or no pay at all for months at a time. So almost anything is for sale. Last year Russian police acknowledged thwarting 11 attempts to steal uranium from nuclear installations.

Other attempts may have succeeded, as nuclear workers grew increasingly desperate. At Krasnoyarsk-26, a factory producing weapons-grade plutonium, employees mounted a protest last month, demanding salaries that had not been paid since May. Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin then had to rush to Arzamas-16, where nuclear warheads are being disassembled, to head off a similar kind of unrest.

What makes the disarray so frightening is the staggering amount of dangerous radioactive material all over Russia. Experts there say the old Soviet weapons complex produced more than 140 metric tons of plutonium. The stockpiles of highly enriched uranium, which can also be used to make bombs, total about 1,000 metric tons.

Under strategic-disarmament treaties with the U.S., Russia is dismantling about 2,000 warheads a year, recovering shiny, fist-size spheres of plutonium called pits - the elemental core of a bomb - which it is putting into storage. A purchaser who acquired one of these would have the key ingredient of a bomb. Over the next 10 years, the U.S. and Russia will take 100 metric tons of plutonium out of warheads, and their nuclear-power industries will produce an additional 110 tons. By then there will be enough plutonium in storage worldwide to build 42,000 atom bombs.

Some Western estimates put Russia's current stock of plutonium at 200 tons. The military weapons, including all those pits, are still under tight security - as far as anyone knows. But other forms of plutonium are scattered all over the country in research institutes, laboratories, reprocessing plants, shipyards and power stations, where security is believed to be lax and accounting is unreliable.

With big money presumably to be made in the plutonium trade, some thefts will be inside jobs. Deputy Interior Minister Mikhail Yegorov told Western officials at a conference in Germany that he believed the 6 grams of plutonium found in that country in May had been stolen by officials of the Russian Atomic Energy Ministry. In other cases, Russian gangsters will step in and bribe or coerce those with access to fissionable materials to steal them.

When FBI director Louis Freeh visited Moscow last month, he told cadets and faculty of the Russian Police College that "one criminal threat looms larger than the others: the theft or diversion of radioactive materials in Russia and Eastern Europe." Organized-crime groups, he warned, would try to obtain such materials "to be offered for sale to the highest bidder." The Russian daily Izvestia makes the same judgment. It reported recently that more than 5,500 criminal gangs were operating in Russia, and "the lion's share of their operations involve stealing fissionable nuclear materials and smuggling them out."

WHO ARE THE BUYERS? The rise of this illegal commerce suggests that there are serious bidders out there. But there is no evidence indicating who they are. Three of the four samples of weapons materials that turned up in Germany were purchased by undercover agents in sting operations designed to trap the sellers or their couriers. Indeed, in the Bremen episode, the defendant's lawyer claims that his client too is a police operative. There have been rumors in Germany, but no proof, that the 6 grams found in May were acquired for a foreign government, possibly Iraq or North Korea. In fact, there is no evidence yet that anyone in Germany was buying or prepared to buy nuclear material except the police.

When the first samples of low-grade nuclear material began to leak out of former Warsaw Pact countries in 1991, the German police sent special squads into the field to find them. Since 1991, German police have counted 440 cases of nuclear smuggling, and almost all have been stings. With so many agents posing as buyers, some skeptical officials wonder if they might be creating a demand. "There's no evidence of a real market for plutonium in Germany," says Bremen's chief prosecutor. He wonders whether "our interest in pursuing criminals is bringing danger into Germany."

Yet the spectacle of apparent amateurs in the plutonium business getting their hands on the real thing could bring serious conspirators onto the scene with big money. How big the money has to be is still unanswered because no deals outside police scams have come to light. Even so, the price of enough plutonium to make a bomb would have to be in the millions of dollars or tens of millions. It is doubtful that any terrorist group has that kind of financing. Even Hizballah, the extremist group most directly linked to a state sponsor, cannot expect to receive tens of millions for its own purchases from an Iran that is struggling to arm itself.

Nor is a radical state like Iran, Libya or Iraq likely to buy a bomb and hand it over to terrorists. "If you just spent $300 million on something," asks a State Department specialist, would you turn it over to a band of terrorists "or would you keep it for your own protection?" He also wonders if Iran could keep secret forever the transfer of a nuclear weapon to Islamic militants. Tehran would have to be certain it did not leave fingerprints on the deal, or the country could become the target of reprisals - possibly nuclear. "God help the state that gave terrorists nuclear material," says the official. "The international community's response would be dramatic."

Yet the mere fact that plutonium is on the market could conceivably lend credibility to terrorist groups that might try to persuade people they have built a bomb. "The problem now," says Richard Guthrie of the Verification Technology Information Center, a nonprofit group in London, "is blackmail. If someone says he's built a bomb in a basement somewhere, how does a government react when that person produces a gram or so of weapons-grade material to prove the threat?"

While the ultimate terror would be a working bomb constructed by terrorists on their own, the much likelier catastrophe is a large purchase of plutonium by a country looking for a shortcut to a nuclear arsenal. "It's clear that the highest bidder is going to be a state," says Phebe Marr, an expert on Iraq at the National Defense University in Washington. A government with nuclear ambitions would want not just a single bomb but an arsenal or significant additions to an existing arsenal. One or two bombs could attract threats and retaliation from abroad. So an interested state would be in the market for tens or hundreds of kilograms of plutonium - and that amount would be extremely expensive.

Experts in the Middle East suggest that only Iran - in addition to Israel - is believed to be actively pursuing nuclear weapons. In spite of its severe problems of debt and unemployment, the Iranian government has not reduced its spending on arms programs. "Iran wants to be the most powerful military presence in the gulf," says Mourad El-Desouky, a military expert at Al Ahram Strategic Studies Center in Cairo. "It wants nuclear weapons for deterrence and to intimidate its neighbors." He believes that the Iranians have the money to go shopping for plutonium and weapons-grade uranium from Russia's black market in Western Europe, and "it is realistic to think they are doing that."

WHO CAN CONTROL IT? Policymakers and scientists in the West hope to persuade the Russians to take steps that would head off the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. On this score, the U.S. has often talked a better game than it has played. In 1991 Congress authorized the Bush Administration to spend $400 million a year for three years to help the former Soviet republics keep nuclear materials and facilities secure. So far, in part because of congressional inaction, about $500 million of the first $900 million authorized has not been spent. Among the projects held up: a Pentagon-organized training course for border-control officials of the former Soviet Union.

The National Academy of Sciences looked at the plutonium piling up in the U.S. and Russia and this year recommended concrete steps to take it out of circulation. Since the outright destruction of plutonium is problematic and prohibitively expensive, the academy suggested mixing it with other nuclear wastes and molten glass, creating radioactive glass logs weighing an unusable two tons. These would be stored in deep holes. It also proposes combining plutonium with uranium to make reactor fuel, which after use will leave the plutonium locked into contaminated fuel rods.

The main problem with such ambitious ideas is that the Russians want no part of them. In general, there is enough suspicion left over from the cold war to make Russian nuclear officials determined to keep Americans from getting anywhere near their plutonium stocks. More specifically, the Russians view their plutonium as a national treasure, and they don't propose to do away with it.

Rather, they want to store their plutonium to use later as fuel in a new generation of breeder reactors, which they hope to have up and running in about 20 years. They intend to keep their tons of shiny plutonium warhead pits in storage until then - even at a cost they estimate at around $2 per gram per year. The new reactors will be hugely expensive too, and the floundering Russian economy may not be able to afford them. Then the plutonium will be little more than an immense security problem, requiring protection against theft and diversion for about 25,000 years - the half-life of plutonium. It would be better if the experts could get to work on a solution before the huge stockpile's still-small leaks turn into a flood that could engulf the world.


Near Accident

>Date: Wed, 16 Jul 1997 10:20:22 -0400 (EDT) >From: Project Ploughshares <> On Saturday, July 12, ABC television reported briefly on >> the US evening news that earlier this year a missile fired into >> the upper atmosphere for a study of the aurora borealis was >> temporarily misidentified by the Russian early warning system >> as a potential nuclear attack on Russia, and President Yeltsin >> removed the secret code necessary to launch a retaliatory >> nuclear strike from the "football" for the first time during >> the nuclear age. > >Bruce Blair has looked at this incident. Following is a brief description >of it by him: > >"Its obvious [Russian reliance on launch on warning] is not a safe >operational practice. It's inherently dangerous, and it's >compounded by the deterioration of Russia's command-control system and >missile attack early warning network, which are falling on hard times like >the rest of the military infrastructure. To illustrate, recall the serious >false alarm in January 1995, triggered by the firing of a Norwegian >scientific rocket, which for the first time in Russian history triggered a >strategic alert of their LOW forces, an emergency nuclear decision >conference involving their President and other national command >authorities, and the activation of their famous nuclear suitcases."


Missile Defense -- Extravagant and Unnecessary

Column: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Washington Post, Thursday, May 30, 1996 ; Page A30

I reached for a dictionary after reading the May 14 editorial "Prudent Steps on Missile Defense" to check definitions of the word "prudent." According to The Post, administration and Republican plans for deployment of national missile defense (NMD) are "prudent" considering the "potential rogue intercontinental missile threat" to the United States.

Prudent, as in "thrifty"? Not according to the Center for Defense Information, which estimates a total cost of more than $100 billion for the next six years.

Prudent, as in "wise"? Considering that U.S. taxpayers shelled out $70.7 billion on ballistic missile defense for Ronald Reagan's failed Strategic Defense Initiative and all we have to show for it are a few faked tests and a bigger national debt, it would seem prudent not to repeat past mistakes. Undaunted, Republicans are pulling the oldest PR trick in the book: If it's unpopular, rename it. Their choice: "The Defend America Act." As far as I'm concerned "Star Wars II: The Fantasy Continues" is playing on Capitol Hill to a capacity crowd. The plot: "Potential" threat meets "potential" defense as American schools and hospitals crumble.

Prudent, as in "circumspect"? Bob Dole identifies North Korea as one of the chief "rogues" plotting a nuclear strike against the United States. Could that be the same North Korea described in The Post's May 14 Around the World section as suffering so severely from food shortages that its people "must eat grass and roots to survive"? The same North Korea whose annual military budget couldn't buy three B-2 bombers? The "rogue" that has refrained from attacking neighboring enemy South Korea for fear of U.S. retaliation? That same "dangerous rogue" whose most advanced missile in six years of trials has only once successfully tested to a range of 500 kilometers, whereas to strike the nearest U.S. city (Anchorage, Alaska) requires a range of 5,000 kilometers?

Prudent, yes, for military contractors and their PAC beneficiaries on the Hill. In anticipation of lucrative NMD contracts, Lockheed Martin, Loral and Martin Marietta have prudently merged to form mega-contractor LockMart, effectively strengthening corporate influence over congressional decision-making. The chief House NMD advocate, Newt Gingrich, ranks number five in top House recipients of PAC contributions by ballistic missile defense contractors. How prudent of him.

Is it prudent to believe any dictator would spend the many years and vast sums of money required to build an intercontinental ballistic missile so he can threaten the United States and have his country annihilated in return? Have NMD advocates forgotten the World Trade Center bombing? While our generals watch the skies, bombs arrive in U.S. cities in cheap, unmarked suitcases and trucks.


Takoma Park



(Moscow Times, Sept 10, 1997 by Richard C. Paddock (LA Times)

Alexander Lebed, the former russian general and presidential hopeful, has been broadcasting his claim over the past week that Russia has lost track of 100 nuclear bombs the size of suitcases.

"A very thorough investigation is necessary," Lebed reiterated to reporters Monday, September 8. "The state of nuclear security in Russia poses a danger to the whole world."

The general's allegations are roundly denied by Russian officials, who contend that all the Russia's nuclear weapons are safely under control.

In his previous post as President Boris Yeltsin's top security adviser, Lebed might have been in a position to know about such secrets. But the president fired him nearly a year ago.

Now Lebed - who negotiated last year's peace accord with Che- chnya - is a political outsider who is trying to revive his career and build a base for a potential run at the presidency in the year 2000, when Yeltsin must step down.

"How can a serious politician make such a sensational statement without the cheking of facts first?" said Vladimir Uvatenko, chief spokesman for the Defence Ministry. "This scandalous statement was clearly made by Alexander Lebed to get the attention of the press and boost his waning political image and declining popularity."

Despite the official denials, Lebed is pursuing his allegations undeterred. In an interview with CBS television's "60 Minutes " aired Sunday, Lebed said the suitcase bombs were ideal weapons for terrorists because they could be armed and detonated by a single person within 30 minutes.

One of the one-kiloton bombs could kill 100,000 people, he said. Of 250 suitcases devices made by the Soviet Union, he said, 100 are unaccounted for.

On Monday, Lebed was quoted by Interfax as saying he had lear- ned of the existence of the bombs 11 month ago when he was Yeltsin's security adviser. Since that time, he said, he has been able to prove to his own satisfaction that the weapons were real.

Lebed said the suitcase bombs were deployed in special briga- des in some of the empire's remore regions. After the break-up of the Soviet state, many of the suitcases vanished in what became independent republics, where they could fall into the hands of terrorists, he said.

In Washington, US officials say they have no information that any of Russia's nuclear weapons, whatever their size, have been offered for sale on the world's black markets.


Yeltsin Denies Selling Nuclear Arms to Iran
Russian General Also Says Reports of Missing Weapons Are False

By David Hoffman Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, September 27, 1997 ; Page A16

President Boris Yeltsin denied today that Russia has supplied nuclear weapons or ballistic missile technology to Iran, responding to allegations from the United States and Israel that Russian experts and know-how are helping Iran build weapons of mass destruction.

Vice President Gore said on a visit to Russia this week that a joint American-Russian inquiry had turned up unspecified new information showing that Iran was making a vigorous effort to procure such technology.

"We are being accused of supplying Iran with nuclear or ballistic missile technologies," Yeltsin said at a press conference with President Jacques Chirac of France after a Kremlin meeting today. "There is nothing further from the truth. I again and again categorically refute such rumors."

Russia has repeatedly denied that it has provided missile technology or nuclear weapons know-how to Iran. But some experts say state controls have been lax on quasi-governmental and private businesses, especially those connected with the ailing defense-industrial complex of the former Soviet Union. A recent independent study showed how Iraq had purchased missile guidance systems from a Russian warehouse through a middleman.

Meanwhile, the senior Russian Defense Ministry official responsible for the nuclear weapons stockpile commented on allegations by Alexander Lebed, the former secretary of the Russian security council, that some small nuclear charges the size of a suitcase might be missing. Lebed, who gave differing estimates of the number of missing bombs, made the suggestion three months ago to a group of visiting U.S. congressmen and again in a television interview recently.

At a press conference Thursday at the Defense Ministry, Lt. Gen. Igor Volynkin, chief of the 12th Main Directorate, which handles nuclear weapons, denied that any were missing. "As to the loss of 100 munitions, this is something that is practically impossible," he said.

Volynkin denied that miniature nuclear devices existed. "Nuclear suitcases . . . were never produced and are not produced," he said. Volynkin said technically it is possible to produce such a small weapon but it "will have a life span of only several months" and would have to be dismantled, making it too costly to build and maintain.

But he acknowledged that the Soviet Union and Russia possess nuclear mines. Similar U.S. devices were known as atomic demolition munitions. "Yes, nuclear mines existed and they still exist," he said. These are somewhat larger than a suitcase and could be carried by a truck, he said.

Volynkin said that all the nuclear mines, as well as nuclear artillery shells and tactical nuclear warheads, have now been removed from the Russian ground forces and are all in the storage units of his department. "So, there are no nuclear shells and mines in the forces," he said. "They are stored in our facilities, which are more reliable and better protected."


Did Soviets build mini A-bombs? A look at what happened to miniature atomic weapons

By Robert Windrem NBC NEWS PRODUCER, September, 1997

Did the former Soviet Union develop a "suitcase nuke," a nuclear weapon so small that it could be concealed easily by a single agent yet so powerful that it could destroy entire cities? Are there more than 100 of them "missing?" In other words, is the new movie, "The Peacemaker" more fact than fiction?

BORIS YELTSIN'S former national security aide, Gen. Alexander Lebed, answers yes to the first of those three questions and claims ignorance on the second. He hasn't been asked about the third. The Russian government denies the existence of the weapons ... now or ever.

"Nuclear suitcases have never been produced and are not now being produced," Igor Valynkin, head of the ministry's department that oversees nuclear security, told a press briefing last Thursday. He said building a nuclear suitcase was theoretically possible but added that it would only last a few months and would then have to be replaced at exorbitant cost.

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports on the real threat of nuclear weapons and the group in charge of tracking them down.

"Not even the United States would attempt to do that," Valynkin added.

And officials at the CIA say that while the Soviets may have developed small nuclear land mines - to be planted by Spetsnaz commandos - none of them were small enough to fit into a suitcase. Furthermore, says the CIA, there is no evidence that any of these weapons or any other nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union are missing, misplaced, lost or stolen. "They were not that small," one official said of the mini-atomic bombs. "It would require several people to move them.

"As for whether there are missing weapons, we have no credible information to suggest that. That is not to say we think that Russia is as transparent on this issue as we would like."

U.S. BUILT 'BACKPACK NUKES' But Valynkin's off-hand assertion that the United States has never built its own mini-weapons was mistaken, as Soviet and Russian military officials have known for years. The United States built more than 300 'special atomic demolition munitions' or 'backpack nukes.'

As a January 1985 report by NBC News revealed, the United States built more than 300 "special atomic demolition munitions" or "backpack nukes." These were the smallest nuclear weapons mass produced, although the United States and Soviet Union did build about 3,000 nuclear weapons that could be moved by small trucks or small teams, including nuclear depth bombs.

The SADMs, as they were called by the Army, Navy and Marine Corps units that carried them, were dismantled in the late 1980s and early 1990s at the Energy Department's PANTEX facility outside Amarillo, Texas.

They were, in fact, chose to be dismantled early because they were so small and thus represented a potential security threat if stolen. But until they were taken out of service, they were the ultimate commando - or terrorist - weapon, not just because they were in military jargon, "man-portable," but because they had enough shielding to make them difficult to detect.

Built at PANTEX in the mid-'60s - in some cases by the same people who later dismantled them -the SADMs were the smaller of a class of small nuclear weapons, the other being atomic land mines.

The SADM weighed 163 pounds and was developed by the Los Alamos National Lab during the Eisenhower administration. While not built to be hidden in a suitcase, it was kept in a relatively small packing case measuring 35 inches long, 26 inches high and 27 inches deep. Inside was not only the nuclear weapon, but the firing mechanism, coders and timing devices. The whole thing could be carried on the ALICE-2 backpack, a standard-issue backpack that won a "portability" competition at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland in the late 1970s. To conform with the U.S. "two-man rule," the weapon required two commandos to fire it.

The "backpack nuke" was designed to be positioned and detonated behind enemy lines by the Army's Green Berets, the Navy's Seals and the Marines' Ordnance Platoons. Targets could include airfields or troop encampments or even populated areas critical to the enemy's - the Soviets' - advance. Their explosive yield could be calibrated to fit the target. At the low end, it had a yield of .1 kiloton [?sic, .01] - equal to 10 tons of TNT or about five times the explosive power of the bomb that destroyed the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. At the high end, the SADM could yield 1 kiloton - equal to 100 tons of TNT, or enough to take out the heart of a city.

They were deployed throughout NATO as well as in South Korea and on Okinawa. The largest single deployment base in NATO was at Bad Toelz, outside Munich, Germany.

'ATOM-BOMBEN IM RUCKSACK' Following the NBC report in 1985, German authorities questioned the rationale behind the "Atom-bomben im Rucksack" as the German press nicknamed it. The Germans realized that if the SADMs or their larger land-mine cousins were to be detonated, the most likely place they would explode was in Germany.

William Arkin, who ran the Institute for Policy Studies' nuclear weapons project during the 1980s, did most of the early research on the weapons and their deployment. He said German objections were responsible for the weapons' early demise.

"The weapons were retired not only because of the publicity surrounding their deployment in Germany, but because German peace activists were able to learn where NATO had planned to emplace them."

In fact, Arkin had obtained a manual laying out a training exercise in which a weapon was detonated just outside Salzburg, Austria - the ancestral home of Mozart.


N-dump would imperil Utah

Deseret News Archives, Sunday, December 7, 1997

The plans for a nuclear warhead small enough to fit in a suitcase are now available to terrorists around the world, as is the required 1 to 2 kilograms of fissile material. The proposed Goshute nuclear waste dump with thousands of above-surface cement silos is going to become a prime target for a surface-to-ground missile that can be brought to within range and fired by a single person. The resulting fallout will be devastating to the Wasatch Front and beyond (tremendous punch for a small investment). The licensing process has now begun. This is a politically hot potato that no one wants. If it comes to a political vote, Utah will lose. The national politicians will be wooing the big states who want to get rid of the waste. Democrats have written Utah off, and Republicans know that Utah will stay Republican regardless (just look at the many staunch Republican "down-winders" in southern Utah, victims of a Republican administration). There will be a Chernobyl-like disaster in central Utah (or worse) unless the citizens become very vocal and actively block the granting of a license. Once the Goshutes have a license, there is nothing we can do. They are like a state within a state. Gene Faux Springville


Neutrons for sale

NEW SCIENTIST · NS+ [Archive: 13 December 1997]

People could soon be using a fusion machine the size of a football to detect bombs at airports and impurities in ores. Bennett Daviss reports.

A HOLLOW stainless steel sphere about the size of a football sits on a laboratory bench. From inside the globe, a purple glow radiates through a small glass window. George Miley peers in and glimpses a tiny luminescent ball hanging in the centre and spires of light that seem to radiate from it. "It's a beautiful sight," Miley sighs.

Miley is professor of nuclear, electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and his sphere is a fusion machine. Unlike other fusion machines, this one is small enough to sit on a desktop, it can be switched on and off at will and it produces virtually no radioactive waste.

Molecular microscope

The sphere is different in other ways too. It's primary purpose is not make energy but to generate neutrons. Billions of them, every second. Neutrons are subatomic particles with no electric charge that are extraordinarily useful. Scientists use them for materials analysis-they can help to identify most common elements in seconds. By contrast, chemical analysis can take hours. Neutrons can also help to work out the structure of new molecules and crystals. Beams of these particles can even be used for cancer treatment.

The trouble is that neutrons are notoriously difficult to make. Nothing less than a nuclear reactor or a high powered particle accelerator will do the job. This means that neutron analysis can only take place with the help of a handful of specialised laboratories. Until now.

Miley is about to begin selling his spheres. The University of Illinois has licensed the technology to Daimler-Benz Aerospace, which in return is helping to finance his research. Next year, the spheres will go on sale for as little as $60 000-a tiny fraction of the cost of the nuclear reactors or particle accelerators that are now needed to produce neutron beams. Likely users include mining companies, who will be able to spot impurities in an ore as it is being mined, specialist metal smelters who will be able to monitor the composition and quality of their alloys in real time, and airport security staff who will use the neutron beams to spot bombs in suitcases as they pass by.

Miley wants to go even further. The holy grail of fusion research is to create a source of cheap, clean energy. Although his spheres currently use up much more energy than they produce, he says they have the potential to generate more in future. And unlike any other type of fusion research, he hopes to fund his work with the profits from the desktop neutron generators. "By marketing inexpensive neutron generators, we hope we can finance the work that might transform these devices into cost-effective power generators," he says.

Fusion spheres were first conceived more than 40 years ago by Philo Farnsworth, an inventor who developed much of the technology behind early televisions. But Farnsworth was never able to reap the financial benefits of his inventions, and in the late 1950s he started work for the defence and electronics company ITT based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. There he set out to create the ultimate energy generator by fusing nuclei together. What makes Farnsworth's idea different is the way he chose to initiate and control the fusion reaction.

The conventional approach is to take deuterium-a harmless, stable isotope of hydrogen that has a neutron as well as a proton in its nucleus-and heat it to many millions of degrees. This strips away the electrons from individual atoms, leaving a soup or "plasma" of positively charged nuclei and negatively charged electrons. At these temperatures, a small proportion of the nuclei have enough energy to fuse with each other when they collide, forming a highly energetic neutron and nuclei of hydrogen, tritium and helium-3 in the process.

Sometimes researchers use a mixture of deuterium and another isotope of hydrogen, tritium, which has two neutrons and a proton in its nucleus. This reaction results in a far higher number neutrons but tritium is highly radioactive and difficult to handle. In either case, the big problem is how to keep the plasma contained. It is much too hot for any ordinary container to withstand, so it is held in place by a magnetic field.

Collision course

Farnsworth chose a different route. Instead of heating deuterium gas, he used an electric field to accelerate individual ions to the energy at which they would fuse, in the same way that electrons are accelerated towards the screen in a television tube. He argued that this was far more efficient than heating an entire volume of deuterium, particularly when only a small portion of the gas would reach the energies required for fusion. He then aimed several beams of deuterium nuclei towards the centre of a sphere where he hoped they would collide and fuse. Of course, the beams have to be precisely aligned for any chance of fusion to occur, and even then only some of the nuclei actually collide.

But this is not the only chance they have to fuse. Farnsworth calculated that the build-up of positive ions near the centre of the sphere would attract negative electrons. This shell of negative charge would then trap the positively charged ions at the centre, multiplying the chances that they would collide and fuse. To distinguish it from the traditional magnetic confinement technique, Farnsworth's method of fusion is known as inertial electrostatic confinement (IEC).

When Farnsworth retired in 1967, four years before his death, he and a newly minted physics PhD from the University of Illinois named Robert Hirsch seemed to have proved the notion workable. Measuring the energy released in the conventional way-as the rate at which a fusion reaction liberates neutrons-Hirsch's final machine, which was fuelled by a deuterium-tritium mixture, delivered more than 10 billion (1010) neutrons per second, a generous number even by today's standards. Unable to raise enough money to continue the work, Hirsch joined the US Atomic Energy Commission in 1968 and eventually became the director of its fusion program. He now works as a power technology consultant in Washington DC.

But before Hirsch gave up IEC fusion research, he had developed an entirely new way to accelerate his ions-this time using pure deuterium in place of the deuterium-tritium mixture. In his original experiments Farnsworth used accelerators around his sphere to fire in beams of nuclei. Hirsch replaced this arrangement with a spherical grid roughly the size of a tennis ball, made of wire 1 millimetre thick.

To begin the fusion process, Hirsch admitted a small amount of deuterium gas into an evacuated sphere. Next, he set up an electric potential of 60 000 volts between the grid and the outer sphere, setting up an electric field that is strong enough to ionise the deuterium gas. The field then draws the positive ions towards the grid. Some of the ions collide with the wires of the grid and play no further part in the process. But others pass between the wires and enter the region within it. There, a significant proportion collide in the centre of the sphere and fuse, producing neutrons and energy.

Article continues...


New nuclear fears

The Economic Times of India
Opinion THURSDAY 22 JANUARY 1998

The US nuclear community's recent worry about proliferation from Russia goes to show that NPT and CTBT have no teeth, says K Subrahmanyam

Last week, the New York Times wrote an editorial pleading for steps to reduce the risks of nuclear weapons being put to use, not by the so-called ``rogue'' states or undeclared nuclear weapon states but by Russia.

All these years, the world was told that nuclear weapons were safe in the hands of nuclear weapon powers and the danger to the world was only from the proliferation of nuclear weapons to less responsible states. It was advertised how virtuous the nuclear weapon powers have been in reducing their nuclear warheads from over 30,000 in the case of US and over 40,000 in the case of USSR/Russia to below 15,000 in both cases and how safe they have made the world through unconditional and indefinite extension of the Nonproliferation Treaty and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Their tremendous sacrifices in the cause of peace and disarmament moved the hearts of many of our self-styled crusaders to such an extent that they found fault with the government of India for not joining these treaties. Now after all these efforts to bring peace and security to the world the Americans worry about Russia and risks of proliferation.

At present there are only four countries outside the Nonproliferation treaty out of which Israel, Pakistan and India are recognised undeclared nuclear weapon states. These three countries do not figure in the list of countries which pose a threat to the US - least of all, a nuclear threat. Therefore, it is a legitimate question to ask what is this risk of proliferation the US is worried about. Just now, President Clinton has certified that China has stopped all proliferation activities. Surely Britain and France are not suspect in American eyes. The worry therefore is about Russia.

Russia in its avatar as Soviet Union broke off its relations with China in 1959 and stopped halfway its proliferation to that country. Since then, for the last 39 years, the Russian record is impeccable. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union also espoused the ``no first use'' doctrine, announced in the UN Second Special session on disarmament. At that time, it was derided by the Western strategists. Mr Gorbachev joined Rajiv Gandhi in issuing the Delhi Declaration for outlawing the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons in November, 1986, and, pending that, to adopt a commitment of no first use. That was ignored by the western nuclear weapon cultists. In the Security Council summit meeting of January, 1992 Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao voiced his concern about the risks of nuclear proliferation arising out of the breakdown of the Soviet Union. The problems related to the possible loss of command and control over weapons and fissile materials and the possibility of Soviet scientists, thrown out of employment, offering their services to other states. That warning too did not evoke much attention among the nuclear weapon powers and crusaders for nonproliferation.

A few months back General Alexander Lebed disclosed that while he was the National Security Adviser to President Boris Yeltsin, he tried to get a full accounting of the ``suitcase bombs'' which weigh only 30 kg and have an explosive yield of 2 kilotons and he did not succeed. General Lebed has taken up this issue with US House Committee dealing with global terrorism and has conveyed his concern that scientists with knowledge to put together such devices had been retrenched in Russia and they could be employed by organised crime groups some of whom have at their disposal more resources than the GDP of many nations. In the US House Committee hearings it was admitted that it was a matter of concern to US Law enforcement authorities that such nuclear devices and materials could fall into the hands of Russian organised crime.

While the US authorities claim to be satisfied at present that the Russian weapons are under safe and effective custody of Russian forces they admit to worries about the future if the morale of Russian Forces were to deteriorate consequent on continued budgetary crunch in respect of Russian defence budget. The FBI director Mr Louis Freeh has testified to the House Committee that kilogram quantities of weapon grade enriched uranium, less than the quantity required for a full weapon, has been seized coming out of Russia. These disclosures do not get as much international publicity as the threat of proliferation by new states used to receive in the nuclear theology.

In addition to these developments what seems to worry the Americans is Russia revising its nuclear strategy and giving up the doctrine of no first use. Russia has signed a joint declaration with China pledging mutual no first use commitment. But it has now adopted the classical NATO nuclear deterrence doctrine in respect of NATO. Just as the West used to argue that they could not afford to give a no-first-use pledge since they needed nuclear deterrence against larger Soviet conventional threats, now the Russians repeat the same argument and assert in view of NATO now having superior conventional forces and having moved closer to Russian borders, they need nuclear deterrence vis-a-vis the NATO's conventional superiority. They have also borrowed the NATO justification that nuclear weapons constitute ``weapons of last resort'' for them. The combination of all these factors, possibility of control over nuclear weapons getting slackened in Russia, the risks of nuclear weapons (especially the compact suit case type) and fissile materials falling into the hands of organised crime, the availability of knowledgeable scientists who could work for organised crime, the reluctance of the Russian Duma to ratify the START II agreement and revision of Russian nuclear doctrine tend to add to the anxieties and concerns of Americans.

In today's context, the probability of a state actor resorting to use of nuclear weapons is extremely low but that of stolen weapons or radio active materials being used as terrorist devices continues to rise. The US spends billions of dollars on counter proliferation strategy and nuclear emergency search teams (NEST) to protect US citizens. This highlights that the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty have not addressed the threats posed by nuclear proliferation by the nuclear weapon powers in the past and their continuing fallout in the present and future. While the US authorities proclaim that international terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and organised crime pose grave threats to international security what is not being spelt out is the nature of their true fears, namely those of nuclear weapons and radioactive materials falling into the hands of organised crime groups which have also increased with the end of the cold war and their ranks being swelled by members of the Soviet KGB thrown out of employment.

A growing number of people in the US strategic and scientific community are coming round to the view that the threats of nuclear weapons cannot be tackled unless its use and threat of use are prohibited - a stand advocated by India for the last two decades. Unfortunately, the cold warriors and nuclear extremist theologians are still very influential. For reasons which are obvious, the US is not in a position to spell out the present and real danger, to their own people without owning up the folly of their nuclear policy of the last five decades or telling the truth that the NPT and CTBT do not address these issues. For the present, the Nuclear Ayatollahs are still dominant.

While the Indian policy on the nuclear threat has been very pragmatic and far more realistic than the western policies, the Indian government has failed miserably to put out a coherent documentation on the logic of its stand and the policies it has consistently advocated. Consequently, even as the US Administration and strategic community make U-turns in their policies and repeat what India had advocated in the past, they put it forward as though they have invented it for the first time. The lack of a tradition of well documented articulation of policy has been India's greatest diplomatic weakness. (c) Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. 1997.


Russian mafia "taking hold in military"

Thursday, March 12, 1998, By ALAN PHILPS in Moscow, The Telegraph, London

Military discipline is so weak that the Russian mafia is about to take over in some army units, the Defence Minister has revealed.

Crime in the armed forces was becoming "more frequent and more serious", Marshal Igor Sergeyev warned a meeting of senior officers and law enforcement officials convened on Tuesday to discuss the crisis in the cash-starved army.

The army was no longer able to isolate itself from the rest of society, which was pervaded by banditry. "There is a real danger of organised crime penetrating military units," Marshal Sergeyev said.

His comments will again raise the spectre of Russian criminals getting hold of the nation's most sophisticated weapons, including nuclear bombs, although this issue was not addressed by the minister.

A debate still rages over whether dozens of so-called "suitcase nuclear bombs" - two-man portable nuclear devices - went astray during the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Russian military has consistently denied that any such weapons could have fallen into criminal hands.

Marshal Sergeyev did not spell out the crimes afflicting the military but he appeared to be referring to the common practice of officers opening commercial relations with criminal businessmen.

Since many officers cannot live on their wages, which are regularly several months late, they often work on the side as security guards or sell off military property. Several officers accused of selling off military equipment defended themselves by claiming they had no money to buy rations for their starving troops.

But there is no shortage of officers who have milked the system for everything they could. The weekend homes of corrupt generals dot the countryside outside Moscow.

Under Marshal Sergeyev's guidance, the army is undergoing a massive cutback this year, with troop numbers scheduled to fall by 500,000, to 1.2 million. According to the Interfax news agency, 300,000 officers are to be axed.

The hope is that a lean, efficient and eventually professional army will rise on the bones of the Soviet armed forces.



March 19, 1998
The PBS NewsHour with Jim Lehrer Transcript

Former Russian security adviser Alexander Lebed today testified that the danger of "loose nukes" in the hands of terrorists is very real. According to Mr. Lebed and other experts, the threat arises not just from the nuclear weapons themselves, but also from the scientists once employed to build the bombs for the Soviet Union. Following a background report on the situation, Jim Lehrer discusses efforts to limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons.


Yeltsin Called Unpredictable by Foe

Filed at 6:31 p.m. EST March 19, 1998, By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Fired Russian security chief Alexander Lebed, a bitter critic who wants President Boris Yeltsin's job, told members of Congress Thursday that Yeltsin is too unpredictable to have his finger on the nuclear button.

Late last year, Yeltsin drew curious attention when he incorrectly called Germany and Japan nuclear powers, Lebed noted, and Yeltsin also said he would cut Russian armed forces -- now 1.7 million strong -- by 3 million troops.

Most people in Moscow dismissed the most recent goofs by the 67-year-old Yeltsin, who has raised eyebrows frequently over the years with his public statements. But Lebed, speaking in Russian, said the increasing incidents suggest he can't be trusted.

``Some statements made by the supreme commander in the past few months ... indicate a certain inadequacy of the supreme commander,'' said Lebed, who was dismissed by Yeltsin in late 1996 and plans to run for president in 2000.

It has been reported that in January 1995, Yeltsin was brought his nuclear-command suitcase after Russia monitored the firing of a Norwegian-U.S. joint research rocket. The suitcase is said to contain codes to begin an attack, to be used jointly with the defense minister and Russia's chief of staff.

``Of course, it is quite dangerous when one component of the nuclear button is a person like that,'' Lebed said of Yeltsin. ``And being commander and chief, he would easily make the other two components agree.''

Lebed, 47, was testifying before a subcommittee of the House National Security Committee. The panel chairman, Rep. Curt Weldon, R-Pa., invited him to talk about the safety of Russia's nuclear arsenal and U.S.-Russian relations.

Last year, Lebed told Weldon that Russia wasn't keeping track of its nuclear devices very well, including suitcase-sized bombs that were built for sabotage. The Russian government denied any security lapses and the Clinton administration expressed satisfaction with Moscow's effort to secure its arsenal.

Lebed, who was third in the 1996 presidential race behind Yeltsin and Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov, is running for governor in Krasnoyarsk, a key industrial region in central Siberia.

``Your testimony has been candid and open,'' Weldon said. ``Hopefully, when you return to America, it will be as an elected official.''

Lebed, who as national security chief was partly responsible for Russia's nuclear program, said the greatest danger now isn't any unintended attack by Moscow, but the possible hiring of nuclear scientists by rogue countries. He said many of Russia's public employees aren't getting paid on time and, with Moscow and Washington paring nuclear arsenals, many scientists are out of work, too.

Lebed suggested the United States and Russia work to employ such scientists in peaceful endeavors. ``Only then can we sleep soundly,'' he said.


The Man Who Would Be Governor: The Life and Times of Aleksander Lebed

European Internet Network Inc. All rights reserved. Last updated Thu Apr 23 10:41:34 1998 GMT.

On Sunday, April 26, residents of Russia's Krasnoyarsk region go to the polls to elect a new governor. One name on the ballot will be familiar to all Russians: Aleksander Lebed. Below is a brief biography of the charismatic ex-paratroop general.

Aleksander Ivanovich Lebed was born in 1950 in the Novocherkassk Rostovskaya region to a working-class Russian family. After finishing school, he entered the Ryazan paratroopers unit in 1969 to begin his career in the armed forces.

Lebed's first tour of active duty came in Afghanistan from 1981 to 1982, where he witnessed the atrocities of war. He was awarded one of the highest Soviet decorations possible, the Red Star, as well as a number of other medals during his long career as an officer.

In Lebed's official biography, he is said to have lived by the principle of "always and everywhere, no matter how high or low fate may deliver you, remain a human being and never compromise your honor for anything." In his book, "In Distress for the Fatherland," he writes of the perils of war and the origins of decay of the Soviet Union.

In 1992, Lebed became the commanding officer of the 14th Army stationed in Moldova, where he earned a reputation for thumbing his nose at his Moscow commanders. Lebed was the de-facto ruler of the breakaway region of Pridnestrove -- a small sliver of land in Moldova inhabited primarily by Russians. Many say that his intervention into non-military affairs of this state saved the region from a Georgian-like civil war.

His troops loved him, and he was highly respected in all military circles. But his high-handedness in Moldova earned him the scorn of then-Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, and in 1995, he resigned from the armed forces. He denied speculation at that time that he would enter politics by repeatedly saying, "I am a soldier, not a politician."

Still, Lebed surprised very few when he joined up with Yuri Skokov and formed the party known as the Congress of Russian Communities (KRO). He did catch many off guard when he left the party in 1996. He was a Duma deputy from the region of Tula, and was a candidate for Russian president, coming in with a surprising 15 percent of the vote in the elections' first round. His platform of cleaning up corruption and fighting organized crime apparently resonated with many Russians.

His showing in the election was so strong, that Yeltsin sought Lebed's support in the runoff against Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov. In return for his support, Lebed was rewarded with the powerful post of Security Council secretary. In this capacity, he negotiated a peace deal with separatists in the breakaway Chechnya region, ending a bloody and costly - especially in human terms - 21-month war. Rumors at the time pegged Lebed as a possible Yeltsin heir, but that scenario promptly disintegrated in October of 1996 when the president dismissed him from his post, citing the former general's overt presidential ambitions.

Lebed has made no attempt to hide those presidential ambitions. Within two months of his ouster from the Kremlin, he formed his own political party and announced his intention to run in the 2000 presidential elections. He told journalists at the time that his Russian Popular Republican Party would seek "the support of small and medium-sized business, big private industry, the armed forces, the military-industrial complex, the intelligentsia." Lebed also hopes to draw support from a movement he leads called Honor and Homeland, which has 72 regional branches that could form the nucleus of the party.

This strategy of appealing to groups beyond Moscow could be critical. Beyond Moscow, Yeltsin struggled in the 1996 election. It was the Communists that had an easier time appealing to the remote regions and it nearly cost Yeltsin the presidency.

Lebed stands for a policy he calls "national pragmatism and common sense." He believes in a strong government serving the needs of the people, and not the other way around. Every child should have the right to free medical care and free education through college, and every retiree must receive a fair pension for a lifetime of work.

In Lebed's country, the state would support industry to a greater degree, and it would not export its valuable raw materials but keep them at home to provide for the people's material needs. In other words, Lebed supports an socialist/isolationist system, but he believes he can do it better than the Soviet-era leaders.,

Critics find some of his policy ideas disturbingly vague -- when Lebed was named security adviser, Yegor Gaidar, a reform-minded former prime minister, described his views on the economy as "terra incognita."

He has also alarmed many in the West, particularly with his inconstant views on NATO expansion and his intolerance for some religious groups.

Lebed, who is married and has two children, has remained largely on the sidelines of Russian political life since losing the Security Council post. The biggest headlines he's grabbed recently were for raising the specter of Russian nuclear "suitcase bombs" of which, he claimed, the Russian Defense Ministry had lost all track.

But the former general returned to the public eye - presidential ambitions intact - in February of 1998, when he announced his intention to run for the governorship of Siberia's Krasnoyarsk region. The move is widely seen as a first step toward the Kremlin, but Lebed has said that if he loses the governor's race, he "will not waste either the time or the nerves" on running in the next presidential election.

Never one to miss out on an opportunity for drama, the coming weeks could be pivotal for Lebed. And with the election in Siberia coinciding with a showdown between Yeltsin and the Communist-controlled Duma, the door could suddenly swing wide open to new faces and new ideas. Don't bet against Lebed finding his way back onto Russia's national political scene.


DoD Briefing Tuesday, June 16, 1998, 2:15 p.m.

General Eugene Habiger, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command

Speaker: Gen. Habiger will speak on the record and he has some opening remarks about his recent trip to Moscow and around Russia. And then he'll take some questions.

Gen. Habiger: I think some of you were here when I spoke in November about my trip to missile bases, which occurred in October of last year. I went to a road mobile ICBM complex at Tejkovo, about 150 clicks northeast of Moscow. The next day, I went to Kostroma, which is a rail mobile base. And that's where the Russians, for the first time ever, took a non-Soviet, non-Russian into a nuclear weapons storage site. And I talked to you about what I saw, the approach the Russians take, their very conservative approach. We have a two-person policy in this country. They have a three-person policy in their country.

The level of security. They have a system similar to ours which we call the personnel reliability program. The program is designed to ensure the people who have access to the nuclear weapons or the critical components of nuclear weapons have the right kind of background checks and are not abusers of alcohol or drugs or that sort of thing.

What I'd like to do is give you an update. Thanks to the efforts of my boss, the Secretary of Defense, and his direct discussions with Marshal Sergeyev, I spent six days just a week or so ago in Russia. And in the six day period, I went to five nuclear storage sites, five major facilities in Russia.

First stop was to Kozel'sk, which is a SS-19 ICBM silo based system approximately 200 kilometers southwest of Moscow. I did not go to a weapons storage area there, but what they wanted to show me was how they guard their individual silos. Now, a little bit of background for you. When I had Gen. Yakovlev back visiting me in March of this year, I took him not only to a ICBM base, but I took him to one of our Navy bases so he could see how the United States Marine Corps guards our nuclear weapons at our Navy bases.

I also had Gen. Ford, Phil Ford, my bomber task force commander, take Gen. Mikhail Oparin, the Russian bomber commander, to our bomber bases to show how we guard nuclear weapons there. The idea was to set the stage at some later point where I could go back and they would reciprocate. That's exactly what happened on this trip. So at Kozel'sk, they had a silo opened for me, an operational ICBM with six warheads on board. And they took me to the silo. They showed me the missile, took me to the launch control facility, showed me the crew members on duty. Every question was answered--very, very open. They showed me how they maintained security. And the Russian approach is a little different than ours in that we rely a lot on technology. We don't have guards stationed at each of our 500 or so silos in the United States. The Russians have two security members on duty at every silo. And that's a radical difference from the way we operate here in this country.

What I saw at Kozel'sk was impressive. Security was excellent.

From there, we went (and this is revolutionary) to Saratov, S-a-r-a-t-o-v, to a national nuclear weapons storage site, where I saw not only strategic weapons, but tactical weapons. I saw a lot of Nunn-Lugar influence in terms of the fencing we supplied them, the high tech sensors that are on the fences. And they took me into the side of a mountain, a hill, where we went behind two doors that were each several thousands of tons in weight. And you had to open up one door at a time, these sliding, massive doors, in order to get into the inner sanctum. In the inner sanctum, there were five nuclear weapon storage bays. They took me into one of those bays and we had interesting discussion. Completely open.

Gen. Valynkin is the commander of the 12th Directorate on the general staff. And this is a new bit of information which I did not know until I went to Russia. On the 1st of April, Gen. Valynkin took over responsibility for all Russian Naval nuclear weapons. On the 1st of May, he took over responsibility for all air force nuclear weapons. And it appears that before the year's out, he will probably take over control of all the rocket force nuclear weapons.

When I asked him why he was going to do this, take over this additional responsibility, he said our security is good, but we're going to make it better. And we're going to standardize our security and safety processes. And that's exactly what he's doing. This guy, Valynkin, is a no-nonsense kind of guy. He started his career in the missile forces. He told me that he's been in the job a little less than a year, and he's taken on a procedure whereby he personally interviews every officer who comes on board working with nuclear weapons. I said, oh, it sounds like Rickover. And he didn't have a clue who Rickover was, but the same kind of approach. He is the perfect guy to take on this responsibility.

At Saratov, at the national site, it's a closed cantonment area. There are about 3,500 people who live in this area. About 1,200 or so are military. The rest are dependents and children. It is closed. The commander, a colonel, is the one who gives permission for people to go off the facility. Completely self-contained schools, hospitals. Gen. Valynkin was very proud to tell me that in order to maintain the very high standards of the children, I saw lots of children, that he pays the teachers at his national sites three times the going rate of teachers in most other places in the country.

While I was there, they demonstrated how they use their security forces to repel a terrorist attack. And the use of helicopters, armored personnel carriers. Was it rehearsed? You bet. Same kind of thing I put my people through before I send a high roller to one of my bases. But they did it very well. Helicopter gun ships were used, and they had about a dozen other security forces jump out of one of their troop carrying helicopters from about an altitude of six feet, roll over and take part in the exercise.

From Saratov, went to Engels, which was about 30 kilometers away. Bomber base. They took me into the weapons storage site area there. Again, I was shown everything, shown the security, shown the closed circuit TV cameras, shown how they use a process of three person control. And Gen. Valynkin made it a point that at his national facilities, it's four person control. You have to have three people who are knowledgeable of the tasks they're about to engage in plus one of their supervisors to go along with them.

The bomber facility was very large geographically. And extensive use, as I said, of closed circuit television. Entry control procedures are very, very tight. And then they took me into the inner-most bunker where they demonstrated the massive doors that guarded the storage bunkers, which were rolled back on steel wheels that rolled on a steel-embedded track. They put a kopeck down to show me - this was about the size of nickel before -- this is kind of one of these gee, whiz kind of things. Watch us put the coin -- we used to do it as kids with rail cars. But they showed me their nuclear storage facility.

From Engels, we went out to Irkutsk, out in the Baikal region, where I went to another SS-25 road mobile base. They took me to a nuclear weapons storage area there. Again, the security was tight, rigorous and in many cases, much like the way we operate here in the United States.

Then Friday night, back to Moscow just in time to get four hours' sleep, which was the norm for this trip. And the next morning, Saturday morning, we went up to Severomorsk, where we went to a nuclear weapons storage site there. I met with the commander in chief of the northern fleet, Gen. Yerofeyev, who was another no-nonsense kind of guy. And again, they took me into a nuclear weapons storage site.

The kinds of things I saw, only officers work on nuclear weapons in Russia. We rely heavily on our non-commissioned officers. Our officers are more in leadership positions than they are in technical positions. Their people who work on nuclear weapons don't move around a lot. As a matter of fact, at Saratov, I talked to two colonels. One of the colonels at Saratov had been there for 27, the other had been there for 25 years. And that shows you that there's a great deal of stability there.

Gen. Valynkin told me that, which I knew from a previous trip, the folks who are missile crew members at full alert or who work on nuclear weapons get a base pay plus a 25% bonus. Valynkin said that in his 12th Directorate, his people, and he's got about 30,000 people, Gen. Valynkin does in the 12th Directorate -- his people who deal directly with nuclear weapons, until recently, got base pay plus a 30% bonus. Commanders got base pay plus a 35% bonus. And Valynkin said he recently gained approval for all of his people to be paid at base pay plus a 50% bonus.

Observations. Many similarities. At every nuclear weapons storage site I went into, I received a briefing that I could have taken from Francis E. Warren Air Force Base and just translated into Russian. It was very, very similar. We, as I mentioned to you when I was here in November, tend to use technology a heck of a lot more than the Russians do. They're still very manpower intensive, but that's working for them.

The consolidations that I talked to you about Gen. Valynkin and the 12th Directorate taking over. I asked several questions. Was there some precipitating act that caused this transfer? And the answer I got was no, just want to standardize the procedures. And obvious concern at all levels with the safety and security of their nuclear weapons stockpile. It was a very revealing trip. They were very open in every respect. And at no time did I ask a question and then not have a very thorough answer.

So, with that, I will open it up for questions. Yes, ma'am.

Q What worries you the most about Russian nuclear weapons programs and security? What still concerns you?

A At this particular point, I don't have any serious concerns. I see some things they can improve upon. It's a very give and take kind of environment. As I mentioned to you when I was here in November, I said we were going to have an exchange of security experts and we were going to have a shadow program. The security experts, they were going to send ten or so experts over here, which they did in April. Two of them were from the 12th Directorate and eight were from the rocket forces. And I took them to not only Francis E. Warren, but I took them to Bangor, Washington to see how we do it in the Navy.

And as we were walking out of the nuclear storage facility at the Navy base up at Severomorsk, I was kind of harassing my good buddy, Gen. Valynkin, about how this fence line was going up the side of a steep cliff and that it was kind of a tough place to lay fences and just kind of giving him a hard time in a joking manner. And then he immediately comes back to me and says, well, yeah, you may criticize that. He says you do some things in the United States I'd never even think about doing, he said, some of the procedures you use.

So there's been a give and take here. And specifically, he was referring to the fact that we, under very heavy guard, take at some of our bases, contractors into our nuclear weapons storage areas to cut grass. To do the maintenance. Of course, the Russians aren't, and this is not a slam dunk to my good Russians friends, but they're not much into grass cutting. (Laughter)

Yes, sir.

Q General, there have been a number of horror stories about the Russian economy, about segments of the military not getting paid. So is the standard of living in the nuclear forces, rocket forces, etc., has that really been maintained? Are those people content?

A From what I've seen, it's content. They are content. There are two elements of the Russian military that appear to be better off than others. The first is their nuclear forces and the second is their airborne forces. They appear to be putting more emphasis on those two aspects.

The biggest problem the Russians have, and we've discussed this at length with them, is the critical shortage of housing. That is a very, very real problem with them. And Gen. Valynkin mentioned that he was short 2,000 housing units and Gen. Yakovlev had mentioned to me that on the neighborhood of 15 to 17,000 units short. And a lot of this has to do with when they brought back the missile forces from Ukraine and Belarus and Khazakstan, they had to bring back into Russia, they didn't have the money for housing. The Russians have brought the bombers back from Mozdok and have put them at Engels. And they needed housing. So it's a very critical issue. We're working very hard, hopefully, to get some support to perhaps get some Nunn-Lugar money. It's a very contentious issue because there are some folks on the Hill who would not have us spend that money on something like housing.

Q I take it you're completely and personally convinced as to the integrity of those Russian officers?

A Yes. As much as I am content with the integrity of the officers that we have.

We're talking about a core of professionals. Virtually in most nations, your officer corps is the seed corn of your country in terms of maintaining your government. And so you've got to put some confidence in them or otherwise, you're on very shaky ground.

Elaine, how are? Good to see you. Did you enjoy my pen?

Q Very much so.

A Okay.

Q Are you assuming from your trip that what you were shown is really the best that the Russians have to offer in terms of their security over nuclear forces? And if so, how far do you think the spectrum goes in terms of lesser security?

A It's a fair question. The way I would answer that is when I was here last time, I got beat up by you all saying, well, you only saw one base. And remember, I said, yes, I saw one base, but I was told that was representative of the other 19 or so missile bases in Russia. They told me what I saw was representative. I won't quote the individual by name, but one of the senior officers I talked to said when I asked him that very specific question, am I seeing the best. He said you're seeing a little bit of the best, you're seeing most of what's in the mainstream and he said there's some that are worse. But not much worse. So they're very candid in that regard.

Q Will you ever make any surprise visits anywhere or see anything that was a little bit shaky in terms of their security?

A No. Again, I don't want to mention any names, but when they took me down into the launch control facility at Kozel'sk, the general I was with hit the wrong button. And so we went somewhere we weren't supposed to go. And I was impressed with what I saw. (Laughter)

One of the reasons why I think we've done so well with the Russians is that our relationship, at least at my level, is based upon just open, you know, very frank dialogue. And it's not one of these things where you probe, trying to get answers to technical questions. For example, Gen. Valynkin, when he took me into a number of the storage sites said, okay, which one of these things do you want me to open up? I said, I don't want you to open up any of them. I see you've explained the external security of the containers. You've shown me the safety wire. You've shown me the two lead seals that are imprinted with the symbol of the two officers that seal that container. I don't need to see what's in there. That's the kind of trust we've built.

And hopefully, I've personally invited Gen. Valynkin to come to this country soon so he can personally see how we do business. I think that's a very good thing to do. And Admiral Yerofeyev from the northern fleet, commander in chief up there, I've invited him and his wife to come also. And I hope we can get that done shortly.

Q First of all, can you put to rest, and I apologize, I was in and out of the briefing, so if you've touched on this, please tell me. But can you put to rest, finally, this contention that there might be some suitcase size nuclear weapons missing from the Russian nuclear arsenal? What degree of confidence do you have about the assurances you've received?

A I have a very, very high level of confidence. I talked about that in October. And I was told in no uncertain terms that this is not an issue. They go to great lengths to ensure accountability for their nuclear weapons. The security to get in to the facilities is significant. When I compare the United States and Russia, don't get me wrong. When I say that in some cases, it's more difficult to get into a Russian facility, I'm not saying that U.S. facilities are easy to get into. But when you talk about two 100 ton doors to get through to get into a national weapons site, that's pretty significant.

Q (Inaudible) are now talking to the Chinese government about possibly detargeting missiles, something that we've already done with Russia. Could you talk a little bit about whether -- how important is detargeting? Is it largely symbolism or is it an important confidence building measure?

A I underscore important confidence builder. It's the right thing to do. And I'd prefer not to get into a lot of discussion there because I know it's something that's being worked over in the White House. But it's worked very well with the Russians. They feel very comfortable with that.

A little vignette for what it's worth. In December, I invited someone from the far right to come to our headquarters and spend a day and he did. He writes in the Washington Times from time to time. My agenda with him was to convince him that we hadn't sold the farm. And I think we did a fairly good job there. And then in January, mid January, I invited Bruce Blair and some of his colleagues and spent a day with them. And I invited Jeremy Stone from the Federation of American Scientists to come out and to show them what we're doing, the kind of confidence building. I didn't convince them for a lot of obvious reasons, but to kind of put in perspective some of these notions of hair trigger, which are just not true.

Q Critics say it's meaningless because the missiles can be retargeted so quickly that it's militarily insignificant.

A Well, the Russians will tell you that it takes in excess of ten minutes for them to put the target sets into the missiles. I've seen it. There are four or five positions depending on the missile that you have to put a switch in, and then there's a zero position, which is the no target position. And from the time they go from the no target, the zero position to one of the target sets, it takes in excess of ten minutes. As a matter of fact, when one of the delegations that I just mentioned visited, we had a big discussion about hair trigger and this notion that you're talking about, Jamie, about getting hair trigger, tens of seconds, less than ten seconds. I was able to pick up the phone early the next morning and call the chief of staff of the Russian missile forces through an interpreter at the embassy in Moscow and talk to my good buddy, Gen. Lata, who is the chief of staff. And I said, okay, Vasiliy, what's the answer. How long does it take you to put the coordinates in. And I said, if you can't answer, I understand, but I've got this visitor here and I need a no kidding answer. And he said well, hey, Gen. Habiger, it takes more than ten minutes. And I said thank you very much, that's what my people told me. And then I was able to go back to this individual who was visiting for breakfast and say, hey, I was just talking to the chief of staff for the Russian rocket forces and this is what he told me.

Q How many missiles have you actually witnessed that have been detargeted?

A Every one I've seen has been detargeted.

Q Approximately how many would that been?

A On this trip, I saw an SS-25 on alert at Irkutsk. I saw that SS-19 on alert at Kozel'sk. And then, what I didn't mention is when I was at the Naval northern fleet headquarters at Severomorsk, they brought a Delta sub for me to crawl around for an hour, which was very interesting. Let me go through the whole sub except for the engine compartment.

Q They let you see their warheads uncased?

A They did at Kostroma last year. And again, if I'd asked, they would have done it this time. But again, the confidence building that we have at the military level is not to be probing, inspector, hey, let me see everything kind of thing.


Q General, do you think you would have anything to gain by having a similar set of exchanges with the Chinese military leadership?

A Yes. And we've attempted to pursue that, and have not been very successful. And we hope to, assuming that things work out, in July, we will re-engage with the Chinese and see if we can get a dialogue going. That's very, very important.

Q Have the Chinese rejected the offer of detargeting?

A I am not aware of any rejection or acceptance. I know it's something being discussed in the White House.

Yes, sir.

Q The consolidation you mentioned earlier, putting the Naval, the air force and the rocket forces under a single person, how significant is that in your view? And does that sort of mirror your role in many ways?

A Yes, it does. I'm not saying that they did that because of us. But having one person who that's all they worry about is nuclear weapons is probably the right thing to do. Gen. Yakovlev, for example, at the end of last year, not only did he have his nominal responsibilities as the commander in chief of the Russian missile forces, but he picked up the responsibility of being commander in chief of their space activities. So he's got a lot on his platter.

Yes, ma'am.

Q Just out of curiosity, when you met with all these Russian generals, was there any discussion about their views of what's going on with India and Pakistan?

A Yes.

Q What did you generally hear from them?

A Generally the same concerns I have. It's very destabilizing, that part of the world. Obviously, India is a heck of a lot closer to Russia. A consensus, if you will, that the explosion of a laboratory device in a tunnel is heck of a lot different than an operational, miniaturized warhead that has all the built in safety features you would expect. The point I'm trying to make to you is that just because the Indians and the Paks detonated nuclear devices, 12 of them over a 20 day period, which is historical, that there is a big difference, big leap of faith between exploding a laboratory device and operational.

Q Actually, what's your view on all of that at the moment? I mean, do you view both those countries as nuclear powers now?

A My own professional view, no. I mean --

Q Either of them?

A They have exploded nuclear devices. Does that make a country a nuclear power? That's a rhetorical question.

Q Are you concerned about the level of safeguards that are in place in Indian and Pakistan? You described the elaborate systems in the United States and Russia. Is there anything like that in terms of India and Pakistan in terms of safeguarding nuclear weapons material?

A I really have not gotten into that, Jamie. I know that there are massive amounts of security that went around the Pakistani facilities just before their detonations. And let me just say this. The Indians and the Paks have some pretty elaborate security around their facilities that deal with fissile material.


Q What's the status of the SS-27 fleet as it stands right now and what do you see happening?

A I see the 27 replacing some of the 18's, you know. The SS-18 has ten warheads. The SS-27 is operational. They've got two of them deployed. Minister Sergeyev and Gen. Yakovlev went out to the Far East to declare those two silos operational. I would expect to see over the next several months more of the SS-27s to be deployed.

Q These are two fully operational ones or is one of them a training one?

A They're both operational, both operational.

Yes, sir.

Q It takes in excess of ten minutes for each side to retarget their missiles. Some people think it might be a better idea to separately store the warheads and the missiles. What do you say to that? And is there any looking into that as a possibility?

A I've read Stanfield Turner's book. I've talked to a number of people who helped him write the book. Here's where I'm coming from in this arena. First of all, the Cold War ended, we had 12,000 nuclear weapons staring each other in the face. We began a very stable, verifiable glide path to getting down to lower and lower numbers. START I, where we're at now, 6,000 weapons, START II which is coming. Unfortunately, the Duma did not support debate this month, but has kicked the can until the September time frame. Under START II, we'll be down to 3,000, 3,500. START III, under the Helsinki Accord, will get us down to 2,000, 2,500. So, you know, the ultimate goal is the non proliferation treaty, which has been around for 30 years. And oh, by the way, the United States of America has ratified that treaty. The total elimination of nuclear weapons, that's the goal. That's our policy.

But if you read Article 6, it says given the proper preconditions. Zero nuclear weapons given the proper preconditions. I don't think we'll ever see the proper preconditions. My point to you, though, as I talk to people like Bruce Blair and Jeremy Stone and the Federation of American Scientists is that, hey, things are going well. You know, today, we have probably about 2,300 nuclear weapons on alert and we ought to get down to lower numbers. Under START II, those numbers will be down to less than a thousand. Under START III, those numbers will be less than 700. So we're on a good, stable glide path. And to do something that is not verifiable or if verifiable, very intrusive, would have an -- and also, the potential for being destabilizing, because one of the things as you think through the policy implications of the business that we're in, of deterrence, is that as you go to lower and lower levels of nuclear weapons, cheating takes on much greater leverage. And I'm not implicating that anybody's going to cheat, but those are the kinds of things I think about on a daily basis.

Yes, sir.

Q Do the Russians have a different level of security standard for tactical nuclear weapons or is it the same thing?

A Same.

Q When Gen. Butler presided, he came to Washington and gave a speech in which he said he'd done a lot of soul searching and had basically renounced the efficacy of nuclear weapons. I guess you're coming toward the end of your command. Have you had any similar introspective thoughts? (Laughter)

A I've had a religious experience this morning, Jaimie. You're going to be the first to know it. (Laughter)

No, I'm just kidding you, obviously. I've had the job for two and a half years. I've gone to great, great lengths to make sure that I don't get into a public debate about Gen. Butler and his views. Obviously, my views and his views are 180 degrees out. I disagree with his views vehemently, but he's entitled to his views.


Q Does the U.S. intelligence community share your relatively sanguine view of the level of command and control in Russia?

A Sanguine? Sanguine view?

Q You have a good confidence?

A I do. And I have a bit of confidence because I've been exposed to a great deal. Now, one of the things I was very frustrated about when I got in to this job was it took me a year before I got, then commander in chief of rocket forces, Sergeyev over to visit. One year. And most commanders in chief are only in the job for two years. So half of my tenure was behind me when I first got this dialogue going. So to make sure we keep the momentum going, when I went on this most recent trip, I took my successor, Admiral Rich Mies, along with me and he got to see everything I did. He got to meet the people and hopefully, will continue this thing in the future, which is very, very important. It should not be a personality driven series of events. It should be a continuous kind of process.

Q Does the intelligence community share that view?

A I'll tell you what, and I'll probably get in trouble from the intelligence Mafia, but they just haven't been exposed to this kind of stuff.

Q So they disagree with you?

A No. You're terrible, you know that?

Q Well, I didn't understand your answer.

Q Do they agree with you entirely or do you have a difference of opinion with the intelligence community?

A I don't think in most cases, they've been exposed to the level of detail that I have to disagree.

Q They're not as knowledgeable?

A Yes, but I didn't want to say that. (Laughter) I mean, the intel folks have pretty big egos. I used to be one, so I can say that.

Q How does that reflect (inaudible)

A A lot of the things that they have been exposed to and have written have been based upon estimates, interpolations, interpretations. And do I have the total, hundred percent truth? Probably not. But I'm probably a hell of a lot closer than they are.

Q Well, then I have to follow up one more time. My question then is what is your assessment of the quality of U.S. intelligence about Russian nuclear forces?

A It's good. But I think because so much of what is done in this arena, you know, for example, the Saratov Sierra 1050, which is the name of the site I went to, we had never had access to anybody that had ever worked at one of those facilities that I'm aware of. And so, for them to take me in there and show me the flats where the families live, show me the schools, you know, take me to the officer's club for a meal, to see 30 kids come running up never having seen an American before and a Russian three star say, hey, look, here's an American, you've never seen one before. And to take me into the areas where they have the national bunkers, that's revolutionary.

Q There's been a lot of debate in Washington over the last couple of months about to what extent China's missile program has been aided by U.S. technology. And without getting into any classified information, could you just give us generally an assessment of whether China's missile capability is significantly greater today than it was say a few years ago.

A No.

Q It's not.

A No. From my perspective. I'm talking about military, intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Q Was all this debate just a lot of hot air?

A I'm not going to get into debates and hot air. Let me tell you that the CSS-4 ICBM that the Chinese have deployed today has been deployed since 1981. And there have been some modifications, but nothing significant.

Q Another thought that came to mind is in talking to all of these Russians, did you get into the subject of missile proliferation and the dangers of India and Pakistan, Iran, Libya, etc., especially Russian collusion in missile proliferation? Were they as concerned about that as we are?

A We talked about the development of missile technology in those countries. I did not bring up the subject of Russian involvement in potential proliferation. Our relationship is built, my relationship is built upon, you know, I'm not afraid to ask tough questions, by the same token, I don't go out with an ice pick, going for their eyes when I talk to them.

Yes, sir.

Q General, we're a technology happy type thing, they're manpower happy, but they still have a lot of technology, obviously, guarding their sites. Year 2000 problems, are they looking at that and are you satisfied with their progress and are you sharing some of the things that maybe you have?

A Yes. Good question. In February, I accompanied the Secretary over to Moscow for a meeting with Marshal Sergeyev. I had an opportunity to sit down with Gen. Yakovlev for about two hours and talk about his upcoming trip. And as we were going through his itinerary, I asked him what he wanted to do. He said he was tennis player, he wanted to play tennis with Pete Sampras. I said I probably could not set that up. He said he wanted to go swimming in the Pacific Ocean. I said, hey, I'm taking you to Vandenberg, we can do that. And as we were just chatting, I talked about El Nino because California and the tides. And then I said, you know, one of the things that is really worrisome to me because of the potential magnitude of the problem is the Year 2000 problem. He was not very familiar with this issue. In March, he came over, Gen. Yakovlev did, and in a one-on-one session with me, he said thank you very much for bringing that to my attention. And then when I saw him last week, we talked about it at some length. And he said that he does not have any problems in his nuclear command and control with Year 2000, but they're still working the periphery systems.

Q General, if I could go back to the proliferation question. Is it your opinion that the Russian military leadership either acknowledges or is involved in the proliferation --

A I have seen no indication of that.

Yes, sir.

Q START II question. What is your assessment of the Dumas' postponing hearings again on START II? Did you all talk about that the prospects for getting some smaller numbers? And what's your gauge of Russia's intention toward the nuclear forces? Are they putting most of their eggs in that basket?

A Yep. I shouldn't say yep. As I mentioned right up front, if you look at where they're spending their money, it's the nuclear forces and the airborne forces. The sensing I got in my discussions with, and again, I don't want to quote a specific individual, but with a senior military official that I talked with on the trip, is that the Duma has three major hang-ups with START II at this particular point in time. Number one, perceptions about ABM activity in the United States. Number two, our capability to break out and upload our ICBM's with more than one warhead. And three, ensuring that the nuclear forces have stable funding. Those are the three primary concerns that were relayed to me as perceptions of the Duma regarding START II. And I'll just relay them to you as I heard them.

Yes, sir.

Q If there's so much trust between both sides, why is it that the United States can't get more visibility into the Yamantau mountain complex and other similar construction projects that are underway and closely tied to their command and control of nuclear forces?

A Excellent question. Again, I don't want to identify anyone by name. But another senior official, very senior official and I had a discussion and that's one of the issues I brought up. I said, we've got folks in the United States who think you're committing a technical foul by, you know, you've got 20,000 people working there. You've got a lot of resources going to this place. Why don't you just take an American down there and show them what you're doing? And he said, got it. I don't know what's going to happen.

Q Did they tell you what it was all about?

A Yes. It's the same story that I got from Gen. Sergeyev over a year ago and it is not military-related. It is a national crisis center. That's the way it was described to me. I said you need to put it to bed.

Q One more question. When you were here last time, you mentioned that one of the modernization programs, long range that's going on is the continued development of a cruise missile, long range cruise missile. Any update on that?

A No. Yes. The update is that there's not as much activity as I thought I would see in that development program. The 15 is still good, which they use on their blackjacks and their bears. Their TU-160's and TU-95's.

Q Thank you very much, General.


Defector Warns of Russian Plans

By BARRY SCHWEID AP Diplomatic Writer
JULY 08, 1998 15:20 EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) - A former Soviet agent says Russia's military intelligence is

gathering information on President Clinton, key congressional and military leaders

and members of the Cabinet for assassination squads.

Elite troops already are training in the United States and in the event of war

``would try to assassinate as many American leaders as possible, as well as their

families,'' Stanislav Lunev, a former colonel in the Russian military intelligence

service, asserts in a book published Wednesday.

They would also blow up power stations, telephone switching systems and dams

and target secret landing sites for Air Force One, wrote Lunev, who defected in


``The use of tactical nuclear weapons would be likely,'' he said.

Declaring he wanted to use his experience ``to warn America of the dirty tricks

that can be played against her,'' the defector says Russian pilots are training for

action against the United States and NATO.

In the book, ``Through the Eyes of the Enemy,'' and in an Associated Press

interview, Lunev said special agents were entering the United States as foreign

tourists on fake passports and that elite troops were locating sites to deposit small

nuclear devices, known as ``suitcase bombs,'' in the Shenandoah Valley outside

Washington and the Hudson Valley of New York.

``Russia remains terrified of the power of America, and Russian military intelligence

does everything it can to prepare for a war that it considers inevitable,'' Lunev


CIA and FBI officials declined to discuss the former colonel or his assertions. On

one of his central points, that Russian mobsters have considerable control over the

Russian government, including espionage operations, CIA spokesperson Anya

Guilsher said:

``The Russian intelligence security services have expressed public concern

regarding Russian organized criminal ties to government officials. There is a

determined effort under way to prosecute officials for criminal activity.''

Guilsher also said ``the Russian mafia is something we continue to watch


Last September, a senior Russian Defense Ministry official denied the existence of

suitcase-size nuclear bombs, saying such devices would be technically possible but

too costly and inefficient to produce.

The statements by Lt. Gen. Igor Volynkin disputed claims by former Russian

government officials that Moscow possessed the miniature bombs and had lost

track of some of them.

In the book, Lunev wrote that ``America is facing a nation led by gangsters -

gangsters who have nuclear weapons. And some of these weapons are on

American soil.''

In a telephone interview, Lunev said the Russian government cannot account for

about 100 nuclear devices, and ``it's possible'' nuclear weapons already have

been dropped in the Shenandoah and Hudson valleys or elsewhere in the United


On the influence of Russian mobsters, he spoke without qualification. ``The mafia

controls the government and the political establishment, and as a result of this they

have a huge influence over (President Boris) Yeltsin.''

Lunev shied away from registering an opinion of Clinton's decision to go to Moscow

in September for talks with Yeltsin. ``It's not my business,'' he said.

However, Lunev said it was more important to talk to the Russian president about

the proliferation of missile technology than to defer a summit until the Russian

parliament approves the START II missile reduction treaty.

Asked what his intentions were, Lunev said: ``I wish America to take much more

care about this country's national security because the Cold War is not finished.''

Lunev went on: ``There is no military confrontation between the two blocs, but

the Cold War is still in play and going on in much more dangerous ways. There is no

open confrontation, but a lot of activity from special services and criminals.''

Insisting that Russia was preparing for war with the United States, the former

intelligence officer said, ``Russian pilots are training for action against NATO and

the U.S. military. Russia still consider the United States and NATO the main

potential military adversaries.''

Asked how U.S. officials responded to his allegations, Lunev replied: ``They are

very interested, but they are professional and they cannot provide emotions.''


U.S., Russia Study Potential for Subway Nuke Attack Next Stop, Ground Zero
"It is too terrible to imagine that such things could happen to us. " -Russian Metro rider

By Barbara Starr

July 10 1998 - Could a terrorist seize a Russian nuclear weapon?

This nightmare scenario is one of the Clinton administration's constant concerns.

Now, despite high level assurances by Moscow that all of its nuclear weapons are secure, Russian and U.S. scientists are joining forces to study what could happen if a terrorist set off a nuclear explosion in Moscow's elaborate subway system.

'Catastrophic Consequences'

The low-profile U.S. Defense Special Weapons Agency is giving the equally obscure Russian Academy of Sciences High Energy Density Center money to forecast "catastrophic consequences of a terrorist nuclear explosion in an underground complex."

DSWA, which conducts highly classified research on the effects of nuclear, chemical and biological explosions, would not reveal how much money they plan to spend on the nine-month project.

And they wouldn't even say that the Moscow subway was the facility to be studied. A Pentagon spokeswoman later confirmed the details.

The agency says the Russian academy has unique expertise in studying the impact of nuclear weapons and wants them to study the effect of the weapons throughout the subway system, including contamination and seismic shock.

How Real a Threat?

Officials have no evidence that anyone with nuclear weapons has threatened the Moscow subways. But rumors have swirled for months that the Russian government has misplaced more than 100 suitcase-sized nuclear bombs that could be easily carried.

Current Russian government officials consistently deny that such weapons exist.

U.S. congressional representatives have shown concern that such weapons-if they truly exist-could fall into the hands of terrorists, with public areas like subways being particularly attractive targets.

Loose Nukes? Last month, a top U.S. nuclear weapons military official told a press conference he is relatively unconcerned about Russian nuclear security.

U.S. Air Force General Eugene Habiger, commander-in-chief of the U.S. Strategic Command, visited several Russian nuclear weapons facilities in June.

"I was told in no uncertain terms this was not an issue," Habiger said of his discussions with the Russians.

"When you talk about two 100-ton doors to get through to a national weapons site, that is pretty significant."

But some reports suggest that not all of Russia's nuclear stockpile is so well defended.

After thieves stole weapons-grade enriched uranium from the Sevmorput shipyard in 1993, Mikhail Kulik, a Russian Navy special investigator, derided his country's security measures for nuclear material.

"Potatoes are guarded better," he said.

Perhaps in response to comments like that, the U.S. spends significant amount of money each year helping Russia to maintain security over its nuclear stockpile.

Furthermore, about $500 million annually is funded by the U.S. to keep thousands of Russian scientists employed so they do not leave Russia to assist rogue nations such as Iran in its nuclear weapons program.


The black market in weapons components

Profiteers try to sell to anyone willing to pay -- terrorists or rogue states. First of four parts.

By Steve Goldstein, The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 10, 1999

MOSCOW -- On Sept. 7, the Finance and Customs Department in Istanbul, Turkey, made an arrest that should have been reason for rejoicing.

Turkish agents arrested eight men on charges of smuggling nuclear material from the former Soviet Union. Posing as buyers, the agents seized about 12 pounds of uranium 235 and one-quarter ounce of plutonium powder. The material was being peddled for $1 million by three men from Kazakstan, one from Azerbaijan, and four from Turkey. One suspect was a colonel in the Kazak army.

While the seizure kept nuclear material out of the hands of rogue states or terrorists, the incident was hardly reassuring news to the worldwide fraternity of nuclear-proliferation specialists. To them, the case suggested that the world's "loose nukes" nightmare scenario of the early 1990s had returned.

The fact that thieves were able to smuggle uranium and plutonium out of the former Soviet Union and offer it for sale to the highest bidder once again raised the specter of terrorists -- or an outlaw nation -- detonating a primitive nuclear device. Those fears had subsided in recent years as the United States spent more than $2.5 billion to contain the nuclear threat unleashed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Now, after an apparent hiatus in confirmed diversions of nuclear material from the former Soviet Union, disturbing new incidents have surfaced. From small-time hustlers to organized-crime figures, there are sustained attempts by profiteers to obtain and sell nuclear material to anyone willing to pay for it.

Many nuclear experts say the proliferation threat is greater now than in recent years. They say deepening economic and political upheaval in Russia has increased the likelihood that financially desperate specialists with access to nuclear material will be tempted to sell it, or that security at nuclear sites will continue to corrode as fast as the beleaguered economy.

In fact, Russia is perhaps more politically volatile now than in the early 1990s, with troubling implications for nuclear security:

At least 3,000 unpaid and disillusioned Russian scientists with expertise in weapons of mass destruction have left the country in the last seven years, according to U.S. intelligence estimates. Some have gone to rogue nations trying to build nuclear-weapons programs, such as North Korea, Libya, Iran and Iraq. The continuing exodus prompted Graham T. Allison, a Harvard proliferation expert, to conclude two years ago that the likelihood of a nuclear device exploding in the United States has actually increased since the end of the Cold War.

Security at many Russian nuclear facilities is porous, despite U.S.-supplied equipment and expertise, according to some proliferation experts. U.S. officials estimate that only a quarter of the uranium and plutonium at such facilities is adequately secured. Eighty percent of the facilities covered by a U.S. security program do not even have portal monitors to detect nuclear material carried through their gates.

There is evidence that Iraqi and Iranian purchase agents are actively seeking nuclear technology and material inside Russia, according to Matthew Bunn, a proliferation expert at Harvard.

Some Russian nuclear-research institutes do not have heat or properly functioning computers.

Russia's top customs official acknowledges that only about a quarter of the country's 300 border crossings have adequate equipment to thwart nuclear smuggling.

Moscow's central authority is dissipating, salaries are not being paid, and official corruption is endemic -- creating conditions conducive to smuggling nuclear materials.

"The economic crisis in Russia is the world's No. 1 proliferation problem," said William C. Potter, a leading expert on nuclear smuggling. "I don't believe the United States fully appreciates the implications of this crisis for control of nuclear materials and technical know-how."

Potter, who heads the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, a private research institute in Monterey, Calif., recently returned from an inspection trip of five Russian nuclear sites. He said he found security equipment that had never been installed, highly enriched uranium transported on a canvas-topped truck, and guards who disconnected security sensors after a series of false alarms.

"The situation is desperate," Potter said.

In a report written Dec. 2, he added: "Not only are the guards typically very young, poorly paid, and often without adequate food and heat, but . . . they are unlikely to have a good appreciation of why the material they are guarding is so important.

"They are . . . exceptionally vulnerable to recruitment by organized crime."

Thomas Graham, a former arms-control official now working for the Rockefeller Foundation, deplores what he regards as a patchwork, underfunded series of programs that are not doing enough to reward Russians for protecting nuclear material.

"We're facing catastrophic failure of keeping the loose-nukes phenomena under control," Graham said, adding that international expenditures are not proportional to the scale of the threat. "We have a problem that's a 10 -- and we're throwing a one at it."

The September seizure in Turkey is one of several disturbing recent attempts to acquire, smuggle or sell nuclear material.

In February, Italian police arrested 14 members of the Italian Mafia on charges of attempting to sell a 190-gram bar of enriched uranium and what the mafioso claimed were eight Russian missiles. It was the first documented case of an organized-crime group attempting to sell nuclear material.

On Nov. 4, a federal indictment charged that Saudi exile Osama bin Laden and members of his terrorist organization, al Qaeda, "made efforts to obtain the components of nuclear weapons," presumably for terrorist purposes.

In December, despite the bombings of Iraq by U.S. and British forces, there was evidence that Saddam Hussein lacked only fissile material -- material able to fuel an atomic reaction -- to build nuclear weapons.

The week the bombings ended, David Albright of the private Institute for Science and International Security in Washington and Khidir Hamza, a former Iraqi nuclear-weapons scientist, reported that Iraq could rapidly make a nuclear weapon once it acquired fissile material. Former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter earlier had reported to the CIA that Iraq had completed the shells of four 20-kiloton nuclear devices.

"If Iraq acquires plutonium or HEU [ highly enriched uranium ] from Russia, Saddam Hussein could have nuclear weapons within a matter of months," Albright said. Uranium enriched to more than 90 percent is considered weapons-grade.

For years, U.S. officials took solace in the belief that there were no active buyers in the black market, even as prospective sellers stole uranium and plutonium from sites in Russia. The emergence of aggressive terrorist groups such as bin Laden's al Qaeda and Japan's doomsday cult Aum Shinri Kyo (Aum Supreme Truth), coupled with the recent diversion cases, has pierced that sense of security.

Also troubling are attempts to smuggle and sell material that even seems to be fissile. Experts report several cases in which smugglers tried to sell material that is not weapons-usable, such as beryllium and cesium, but is still harmful and thus suitable for terrorism.

In late 1995, Chechen separatists locked in a war with Russia threatened to blow up radioactive materials they had buried in a park in Moscow. Police found a vial of cesium buried near a footpath in popular Izmailovsky Park after a Russian TV crew was directed to the site by Chechen leader Shamil Basayev. Cesium causes radiation poisoning if not handled properly.

"The weak central government and the risk of economic collapse are also increasing the risk of nuclear theft or blackmail for domestic political purposes -- inside Russia," said Jessica E. Stern, a former National Security Council staffer who ran a U.S. antismuggling group and is author of the forthcoming The Ultimate Terrorists.

Corruption -- as integral to the Russian economy as vodka sales -- is also on the rise. In November, Russian Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin said 5,500 officials were being investigated for bribe-taking. Stepashin said the officials, like other middle-class Russians, had been devastated by the economic crisis.

"A poverty-stricken official is always prone to crime," Stepashin told reporters.

In December, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright told NATO foreign ministers that "a ballistic-missile attack using a weapon of mass destruction from a rogue state" is as real a threat now as Warsaw Pact tanks were during the Cold War.

Russia's nuclear inventory includes about 30,000 nuclear warheads, 1,050 metric tons of weapons-usable, highly enriched uranium, and up to 200 metric tons of separated plutonium contained within weapons or available for weapons. At a minimum, the material is enough to build 120,000 nuclear weapons, assuming 4 kilograms of plutonium and 12 kilograms of highly enriched uranium for each weapon.

Much of this material may still lack adequate security and control and accounting procedures, despite U.S. efforts to secure facilities where it is stored. The material is located at between 80 and 100 civilian research, naval nuclear-propulsion, or civilian-controlled nuclear-weapons-related facilities, according to the General Accounting Office and other sources. It is spread over 11 time zones.

The amount of nuclear material needed to build a crude bomb is so small that smugglers have hidden it in their trousers. Retired Russian Gen. Alexander I. Lebed has described Russian nuclear "suitcase bombs" small enough to fit inside a briefcase.

Authorities do not know how much nuclear material has been stolen but never reported.

"What has surfaced," said Rens Lee, author of Smuggling Armageddon, "may just be a small amount of what has been stolen."

In some cases, material is reported stolen but never recovered.

In 1996, two pounds of enriched uranium 235 vanished from Tomsk Polytechnic University in western Siberia. Because of poor accounting and control procedures, Russian officials do not know whether the material was stolen or accidentally mixed with other nuclear fuel.

What analysts call confirmed "proliferation significant" cases were reported and documented until late 1994. After that, confirmed reports diminished, although there continued to be seizures of small amounts of uranium and plutonium, or of dangerous radiological materials with no weapons value.

This apparent lull prompted officials to credit the introduction of security systems in Russia and a realization by thieves that there was no ready black market for nuclear materials.

The less-optimistic view holds that nuclear thieves became more cunning, that professionals and organized groups have taken over and have made contact with scientists or administrators with access to nuclear materials. Some experts suggest that the Russians are not sharing intelligence about smuggling attempts they have intercepted, out of embarrassment or fear of acknowledging security lapses -- a charge Russian officials denied in interviews.

Perhaps most persuasive is the theory that smugglers no longer attempt to pierce relatively tightly controlled European borders, but instead probe the poorly protected southern border of the former Soviet Union. In fact, the southern tiers of newly independent, ex-Soviet nations share a 4,400-mile border with Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and China.

The September sting in Turkey is considered Exhibit A among experts concerned that nuclear material is leaking across these southern borders. It was the third reported seizure of uranium by Turkish officials since 1994.

"The Turks don't want to see their country become a conduit for these materials," said David Kyd of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Turkey acknowledges its concern but maintains that no highly enriched uranium has ever been found in Turkey. All cases of illicit trafficking in Turkey are reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Cengiz Yalcin, president of the Turkish Atomic Energy Authority.

William Potter, the expert on nuclear smuggling, has argued that a great window of opportunity opened for theft and diversion after the Soviet breakup. He said it is conceivable that material was stolen and not marketed immediately but set aside in hope of better conditions.

For example, in June 1997, authorities in Vilnius, Lithuania, were tipped off that material had been stolen from the Ignalina nuclear-power station. They were directed to material buried in a nearby forest.

Authorities later learned that the theft actually had taken place in 1992, when four men stole a 20-kilogram uranium fuel rod and buried it. In November 1997, three of the thieves, all former soldiers in the security battalion guarding Ignalina, were sentenced to prison terms. A fourth suspect is still being sought. No buyer was ever identified; the thieves apparently were waiting for an opportune time to sell the material.

Anatoly Bulochnikov, director of the private Center for Export Controls in Moscow, cautioned that reports of thefts of nuclear material may be exaggerated.

"First, it is difficult to steal from an enterprise," he said. "The second problem is to transport it. The third problem is to find a buyer. This is not potatoes, not something you can keep anywhere."

But Bulochnikov acknowledged that there now is more evidence of a market. And the "potatoes" can be handled, even if they are hot. Most fissile material emits low levels of radiation that can be shielded by special gloves. A visitor to Moscow's Kurchatov Institute, for instance, held in his bare hand a baseball-sized sphere of uranium 235 covered in protective graphite.

Moreover, the lull in reported cases has not calmed experts and analysts. "The longer we go without a [ diversion ] case," said John J. Nettles Jr., head of emergency management for weapons of mass destruction issues for the Department of Energy, "the more I worry about it."

One serious case that has been reported is the disappearance of 2 kilograms of highly enriched uranium -- enriched to more than 90 percent -- in the breakaway Abkhaz Republic in Georgia. The material had been stored at the I.N. Vekua Physics and Technology Institute in Sukhumi and had been last inventoried in 1992. Because Sukhumi is in Abkhazia, the institute is no longer under the direct control of Georgia's authorities.

At the request of Georgia's government, the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy attempted to conduct an inventory of the institute but were prevented by continuing strife. In December 1997, a Russian team finally gained access to the facility. The storage site had been broken into and all available uranium had been stolen, although other radioactive material was still present. Russia has no idea how long the material has been missing or where it has gone.

The earliest cases of diversion were supply-side driven, with would-be sellers desperate for money and thus willing to steal the material on speculation. U.S.-provided security measures have since helped deter thefts. So has publicity about sting operations that trapped profiteers trying to sell nuclear materials.

Now investigators increasingly are finding anecdotal evidence of demand for nuclear materials.

After the 1995 poison-gas attack in the Tokyo subway by the doomsday cult Aum Shinri Kyo, press accounts disclosed that Russian followers of the sect were looking for nuclear material or weapons in Russia. The accounts said the group was cooperating with North Korean and Russian crime gangs and dealing indirectly with Iran to smuggle nuclear material out of Russia through Ukraine.

Vladimir A. Orlov, Russia's leading authority on nuclear smuggling, said in an interview that terrorist groups constitute the greatest threat to the security of nuclear materials. Orlov said Russian foreign intelligence officials estimate that 200 to 400 groups "could be interested in acquiring weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons."

Citing the case of nuclear smuggling involving the Italian Mafia, Glenn E. Schweitzer, a proliferation expert at the National Research Council in Washington, said that organized crime has become more, well, organized.

"Organized crime has really gotten its act together," he said. "We used to worry about 100 grams. Now we worry about quantities approaching 10 kilograms or more."

Retired Air Force Gen. Lee Butler, former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, has now become a nuclear abolitionist. He said any advances in avoiding criminal proliferation over the last several years must now be reevaluated.

Butler said his successor at the strategic command, Gen. Eugene Habiger, visited five Russian nuclear weapons sites in June -- two months before Russia plunged into economic crisis. Habiger "was optimistic about what he saw about security of nukes" then, Butler said. "But he added that he would have to condition his optimism on the chance that Russia might one day slide into chaos.

"Well, guess what?" Butler said. "Clearly, that's the scenario that we are seeing unfolding."

(c) 1998 Philadelphia Newspapers Inc.


Spying Intelligence Data Can Be an Open-Book Test Firm Finds a Market for Publicly Available Information

By Vernon Loeb Washington Post Staff Writer Monday, March 22, 1999; Page A17

Robert D. Steele is just back from briefing the U.S. Special Operations Command, ready for another week of scouring the globe for information from his computer terminal at an intelligence agency in Northern Virginia. He runs a network of human sources, calls up satellite imagery and gathers intelligence on potentially "loose" suitcase nukes for senior U.S. government policymakers on the other side of the river.

It's all more than a little reminiscent of his days at the Central Intelligence Agency in Langley. But Steele is a former CIA spy and now runs his own agency a few miles away. And he thinks there is one aspect of the intelligence game that he plays better than his former employer: gathering up publicly available information.

His claim is bold, since the CIA invented the Foreign Broadcast Information Service to monitor the world's media.

But Steele and a growing number of intelligence entrepreneurs say the intelligence community continues to give "open sources" short shrift, even as the quantity and quality of publicly available information has increased exponentially in the digital age and most of the nation's old communist adversaries have become more open societies.

Mark M. Lowenthal, Steele's partner at Open Source Solutions Inc. in Fairfax and the former staff director of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, likes to quote Richard Kerr, a former CIA deputy director: "The intelligence community has got to get used to the fact that it no longer controls most of the information."

Lowenthal said he decided to leave the government after 22 years when a new chairman took over the House intelligence committee and brought with him a new staff director. Lowenthal figured he was leaving the best government job he could imagine "and just decided it was time to try the private sector."

Steele left his post as the top civilian at the Marine Corps Intelligence Center, he said, when his superiors decided he could no longer run national conferences on open source intelligence because he was becoming too high-profile.

Senior intelligence officials deny that they do not make adequate use of open sources. But they readily concede that there is an information revolution underway with profound consequences for the intelligence community.

"Yeah, there's an adjustment," one intelligence official said. "We are all still in the infancy of this world of cyber-information. To tell you that we understand this completely and have this licked--we're all making this up as we go along."

Open sources are almost always cheaper than spies and spy satellites, the official said. Sometimes, they're just as good. But they're next to useless, he said, against the hardest targets--for instance, cracking Saddam Hussein's inner circle, or trying to forestall the next attack by terrorist financier Osama bin Laden.

"We're very mindful of the current [information] explosion on the Internet. Do we have to be part of it and find ways to exploit it? Absolutely. And we are exploring ways to do this, including with Open Source Solutions," the official said.

Steele had his open-source epiphany in 1992 when he realized that 80 percent of the tactical information needed by Marine battle planners--the depth of ports around the world, for example--did not exist in the intelligence community's stockpiles of secrets and could be obtained through public sources.

But his defining moment came late one afternoon three years later as he sat before a government commission on intelligence reform, chaired by former defense secretaries Les Aspin and Harold Brown, extolling the virtues of open sources. Retired Air Force Gen. Lew Allen asked him whether he would be willing to put his money where his mouth was and match his Rolodex against the intelligence community.

Allen's challenge: Who could provide more useful information on Burundi by Monday morning?

No winner was ever announced. But everyone agrees that Steele more than impressed the commission with what he was able to produce with six telephone calls:

* The names of the top journalists reporting on Burundi from Lexis-Nexis.

* The names of the top academics writing on Burundi from the Institute for Scientific Information.

* Twenty-two briefing papers on Burundi prepared by Oxford Analytica in England.

* A map of Burundi showing all tribal areas and order-of-battle data on each tribe from Jane's Information Group.

* A listing of immediately available Soviet military topographical maps of Burundi, which the U.S. military has never produced, from East View Publications.

* Commercial satellite imagery of the entire country, detailed enough for use in selecting targets for precision munitions, from Spot Image Corp.

"The information obtained [by Steele] from open sources was substantial and on some points more detailed than that provided by the intelligence community," the commission said in its 1996 report, concluding that the community had been "inexplicably slow" in exploiting newly available public sources.

Steele and Lowenthal don't contend that open sources can replace clandestine human and technical sources. But the intelligence agencies exhibit a bias for their own secrets, they say, and lack internal systems for fully mining business experts, academic authorities, scientific journals, foreign government reports and burgeoning commercial databases, not to mention the Internet.

"Open sources are just as complex as clandestine sources," Steele said in a recent interview. "It's a discipline in its own right. Eighty percent of what we need to know is not online, not in English and not in the United States. I've spent seven years scouring the open source community--knowing who knows. That's what we're selling."

Life After Government

Robert D. Steele

Age: 46

Then: Special assistant/deputy director, Marine Corps Intelligence Center, 1988-1992; clandestine case officer, Central Intelligence Agency, 1979-1988.

Now: President, Open Source Solutions Inc.

Other pursuits: Organized seven international conferences and one European conference on open source intelligence; consultant to 18 goverments on open sources.

On the benefit of publicly available information: "I'm not a librarian saying open sources are good. I'm a former spy saying open sources are good."

Mark M. Lowenthal

Age: 50

Then: Deputy secretary of state for intelligence, 1988-89; senior foreign policy analyst, Congressional Research Service, 1989-95; staff director, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 1995-97.

Now: Chief operating officer, Open Source Solutions Inc.

Other pursuits: Deputy chairman, Armed Forces Communications Electronics Association's intelligence committee; 1988 grand champion on "Jeopardy!"

On the Internet: "I have pleaded with the intelligence agency heads: 'Don't let your analysts go Internet surfing, you'll never see them again.' "


The Blackest Market
Where It Goes

By Jørgen Wouters July 23, 1999

The former U.S.S.R. produced tons of fissile material-whose atoms can be split or undergo fission to release nuclear energy-to power its submarines, arm its warheads, drive its power plants and fuel its research.

Since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., the near-meltdown of the Russian economy brought about an attendant collapse in security procedures governing the handling, storage, disposal and protection of nuclear materials and weapons.

Russian Environment Minister Viktor Danilov-Danilyan recently said that disposing of all Russia's radioactive waste would cost a whopping $700 billion-this in a country whose 1996 gross domestic product was only $400 billion.

Horror stories abound of highly radioactive material stored haphazardly across the vast Russian land mass. Nuclear-submarine reactor cores sit unguarded in warehouses at the Vladivostok naval base. A research institute outside Moscow can't afford to dispose of cobalt-60 reactor-fuel rods; and scientists there say the rods pose the threat of another Chernobyl. And when workers at a shipyard near Murmansk stole 4.5 kilograms of partially enriched uranium, the investigating police official said the theft "was easier than taking a sack of potatoes."

A Nightmarish Litany

But to the dismay of Russia's neighbors, its nuclear problems are hardly an internal affair. Since the U.S.S.R. dissolved in 1991, workers, officers and guards desperate for cash have smuggled untold kilos of poorly guarded fissile material out of the former Soviet Union's thousands of military and civilian nuclear facilities.

In July 1994, Turkish police in Istanbul seized 22 pounds of uranium smuggled out of Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic. That August, a Lufthansa flight from Moscow landed in Munich carrying a lead-lined suitcase filled with 350 grams (12.5 ounces) of largely weapons-grade plutonium the smugglers had planned to sell for $70,000 a gram. And that December, Czech police found an appalling 3 kilograms (6.6 pounds) of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium in the backseat of a parked car in Prague.

To put the Prague seizure in perspective, just 10 kilograms of highly enriched uranium could build a bomb with the firepower of "Little Boy," the bomb that slaughtered some 75,000 people in Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945.

Besides the usual suspects like Iran and Iraq, experts say Libya, Algeria, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia all are shopping the black market for fissile material. Unlike revolutionary groups, those countries enjoy the wherewithal to afford nuclear goods and services.

But as Albright pointed out, any group intent on wreaking nuclear havoc wouldn't necessarily have to construct a bomb or other sophisticated delivery system. Merely dispersing 3 to 5 kilograms of plutonium throughout Manhattan, he explained, might not kill many people, but it would severely contaminate a sizable chunk of real estate, dislocating thousands of residents and bringing the world's financial center to a standstill.



By David Ignatius, Sunday, October 17, 1999; Page B09 Washington Post

The National Reconnaissance Office, the spy-satellite agency that's so secretive the U.S. government denied for years that it even existed, seems to be catching the entrepreneurial bug that's suddenly infecting the intelligence community.

Early this month, the NRO set up a public Web site to announce a program called the "Director's Innovation Initiative," which will provide $350,000 "seed funding" grants for outside projects that may lead to "revolutionary concepts and ideas."

The goal of this internal venture-capital fund, the NRO posting explains, is to "provide a risk-tolerant environment to invest in cutting-edge technologies and high-payoff concepts" and to "push the boundaries of technology" to improve the NRO's satellite reconnaissance capabilities.

Translation for non-geeks: The spy-in-the-sky spooks want to find new ways to follow terrorists, find their hidden biological and nuclear weapons and track their assaults--whether they come by missile or low-flying drones or truck bombs or suitcases. And the NRO's ability to develop these new technologies, to put it bluntly, is what's going to save Americans' lives in the 21st century.

The NRO's announcement comes a few weeks after press reports about the Central Intelligence Agency's new venture-capital fund. The CIA start-up, known as "In-Q-It," will try to link the agency better with Silicon Valley.

These initiatives signal change for an intelligence community that was in danger of losing America's greatest strategic advantage--its technological edge. The intelligence mandarins realized they needed to reach out to a wider community than the traditional, button-down white-shirt world of classified contractors--and that they needed to take more risks.

"We expect a high failure rate," says Bob Pattishall, director of the NRO's advanced systems and technology directorate, which was created three years ago to push the technology envelope. "If everything worked, it wouldn't be revolutionary," he explains. Pattishall says the agency is "looking for a few home runs" and knows that will be impossible without a lot of strikeouts.

That sort of talk is routine in Silicon Valley, where technology entrepreneurs understand that failure is a requirement of eventual success. Indeed, you can't find a successful entrepreneur in the Valley who hasn't blown it, big time, along the way.

But this kind of risk-taking is rare indeed in Washington--which over the years has ossified into a zero-defect culture, where bureaucrats are constantly looking over their shoulder and worrying about second-guessing from Congress and the media. Any government program that deliberately builds in the need for failure is a step in the right direction.

The NRO is also emulating Silicon Valley by moving at what, for a government agency, is warp speed. The initiative was announced Oct. 4; proposals must be submitted by Nov. 17; the NRO promises to finish evaluating the proposals by Dec. 31 and to make the awards by Jan. 31, 2000. The awards themselves will extend for just nine months, "because we don't want to lock the dollars up," explains Pattishall.

A final laudable feature of the NRO's Innovation Initiative is that it's unclassified--and most of the projects it funds this year will also be unclassified. That's a huge change for an agency that didn't even disclose its existence until 1992. The Innovation effort was actually started three years ago--but within the traditional strictures of NRO secrecy. This is the first year they decided to open it up, with an announcement in Commerce Business Daily and the public Web site. In the first eight days, the Web site received 20,000 hits and more than 10,000 requests for information.

"The NRO is in transition," explains Pattishall. "We haven't been out of the closet for too many years. The goal of this program is to reach as many smart people as we can."

Want to help protect your country from its enemies? Here are some of the areas where the NRO is looking for breakthrough ideas: new ways to "map, plan, understand and execute operations in urban environments," new software such as "intelligent agent-like tools and techniques that integrate acquired information," new ideas about "target phenomenology and related sensor technologies in order to identify target vulnerabilities and new collection opportunities," and new technologies "to detect locate, identify, characterize and track weapons of mass destruction and other advanced weapons systems."

Complicated stuff. But this is the ball game, in terms of our national security. If the NRO and other intelligence agencies can't get the best minds in the country to help them crack complex problems like these, then we're all in trouble.

"Let the sun shine in" is an unlikely motto for the government's most secretive intelligence agency, but it's a welcome one. Here's to a lot of noble strikeouts along the way to a grand slam.


Weldon: Russia left nukes here
Delco lawmaker says FBI dragging its feet

by Myung Oak Kim, November 8, 1999 Philadelphia Daily News

Local congressman Curt Weldon is making headlines with claims that Russia has buried dozens of suitcase-sized nuclear bombs in the United States.

"There is no doubt that the Soviets stored material in this country. The question is what and where," Weldon, a Republican House member from Delaware County, told the New York Post in a story published yesterday.

Weldon did not return repeated phone calls yesterday to his home in Aston, Delaware County.

Weldon told the Post that the FBI won't ask its former Cold War foe what happened to the 10 kiloton nuclear bombs. Citing the congressional testimony of KGB defector Vasili Mitrokhin and Russian Gen. Alexander Lebed, Weldon said the former Soviet Union made 132 of these bombs but accounted for only 48.

A kiloton has the explosive force of 1,000 tons of TNT.

The FBI has refused comment. But the Post, citing congressional sources, said agents have already conducted one search in Brainerd, Minn., for stashes of nuclear weapons, guns, radios and maps.

Weldon said FBI Director Louis Freeh told him two weeks ago that there is a possibility of hidden weapons in the U.S., but Freeh would not perform thorough searches. Weldon said the caches possibly exist in New York, California, Texas, Montana and Minnesota.

The former fireman and Marcus Hook mayor used these claims to again criticize the Clinton administration for being soft on President Boris Yeltsin and refusing to push sensitive security issues.

"The administration is not asking the right questions," Weldon told the Post.

The KGB had orders to blow up power stations, dams, telecommunications centers and landing strips for Air Force One in the event of war, the Post wrote, citing Russian intelligence experts.

Two weeks ago, Weldon and Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.) sent Secretary of State Madeleine Albright a letter about the nuclear weapons stashes. The letter urged the administration to "aggressively pursue the Russian government to identify all pre-deployed weapons sites in the United States, and. . .eliminate such remnants of the Cold War," the Post wrote.

Weldon, who chairs the House Armed Services subcommittee on military research and development, has visited Russia 19 times and teaches a course at Widener University on American National Security.

During the war in Kosovo, Weldon led a group of Republican Congressmen who negotiated a peace deal with the Russian lower house. Weldon opposed the NATO bombing campaign and drew strong criticism for trying to get involved in peace negotiations.


Secret Weapons in U.S. November 8, 1999

FBI Director Louis Freeh admitted that Russia may yet have stored weapons - including nuclear suitcase bombs - at secret locations around the U.S.

The stunning revelations appeared in yesterday's editions of the New York Post. The paper quoted Congressman Curt Weldon (R-Pa.) as having had a conversation with Freeh in the past two weeks.

Weldon said that Freeh "acknowledged the possibility that hidden weapons caches exist in the United States . . ."

Weldon, a leading congressional expert on Russia and chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on military research and development, said, "There is no doubt that the Soviets stored material in this country. The question is what and where."

Congressional scrutiny has focused on dozens of nuclear suitcase bombs that have disappeared from Russian's nuclear arsenal. According to Russian sources, including Russian General Alexander Lebed, Russia produced 132 nuclear suitcase bombs, each carrying 10-kilotons of explosive material. Only 48 remain in Russia's inventory; the rest have disappeared.

The FBI has taken a nonchalant approach to locating the secret caches.

Congressional sources indicates that the FBI scoured the area around Brainerd, Minn. - one area Russian agents were believed to have forward-deployed weapons in the event of a war.

But Weldon said the Clinton administration is not interested in pressing the Yeltsin government for fear of destabilizing his shaky position vis-à-vis the country's military leadership.

Concerns about the secret stockpiles have been fueled in recent years by revelations made by Russian defectors.

One KGB defector, Vasili Mitrokhin, provided information to British intelligence that secret weapons stockpiles are scattered throughout the U.S., including upstate New York, California, Texas, Montana and Minnesota.

Mitrokhin has also stated that such stockpiles were also made throughout Europe. Some Russian weapons caches have been located in Belgium and Switzerland.

Colonel Stanislav Lunev, the highest ranking military spy ever to defect from Russia, has testified that the Soviet military developed elaborate plans for the use of weapons during the outset of a war with the U.S.

Lunev said Russian military plans include the destruction of military bases, command and control centers, and the assassination of top U.S. leaders, including the president and members of Congress.

Lunev has also told members of Congress that suitcase nuclear devices may have already been forward-deployed into the U.S.

While the secret stockpiles appear to be remnants of the Cold War period, Lunev, a columnist and author of Through the Eyes of the Enemy, has warned U.S. authorities that Soviet military strategy continues under the guise of Russian "democracy."

Lunev has stated that Russian military leaders continue to see a nuclear conflict between Russia and the United States as "inevitable."

In recent years, the Russian government has continued to invest heavily in strategic weapons. Russia is currently mass producing the Topol-M intercontinental missile - a weapon more sophisticated than anything produced by the U.S. military.

Russia also continues to invest billions in building large underground bunkers for use during a nuclear conflict. Last month, the Yelstin government announced plans to increase military spending by 50 percent in next year's budget.


And a Nuke Under Every Bed

Wednesday, January 26, 2000 Los Angeles Times

One of the enduring rumors of the early Cold War years was that the Soviet Union had smuggled suitcase-size atomic bombs into the United States, and its agents were just awaiting word from Moscow before setting them off. In one version of the story, the nuclear device had shrunk to the size of a golf ball, a possibility calculated to raise anxiety levels on many a driving range. Now, tripping down memory lane, comes Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), to opine that the Soviets may have especially targeted California with hidden weapons, maybe even including--you guessed it--suitcase-size nuclear bombs.

In a Los Angeles roadshow hearing, Burton trotted out a former Soviet military intelligence agent named Stanislav Lunev, who testified that one of his jobs was to locate potential sites for weapons caches. Unfortunately, Lunev couldn't identify a single such site, and Burton politely didn't press him on the point. Left hovering in the air, like a pesky insect, was the implication that some of these alleged caches could contain small nukes.
A State Department official says the FBI has looked into stories about such arms stashes and has yet to find evidence that they exist. As it happens, it's not a very bright idea to leave nuclear weapons unattended for a decade or two; they require regular maintenance and tender loving care if they're to go bang when you want them to. Still, we extend our thanks to Rep. Burton for sharing his concerns with Californians. And please give our best to Elvis the next time you run into him.