Russia Boosts Security at Nuclear Weapons Sites

Extra troops were sent to guard Russian nuclear facilities across the country last week after militants seized a school in the southern town of Beslan and a suicide bomber killed 10 people in Moscow, Reuters reported (see GSN, May 24).

"After the latest terrorist attacks security services decided to send more interior ministry troops to all nuclear sites across the country," a Russian Atomic Energy Agency spokesman said, declining to say how many troops were sent.

He said the government extended the order immediately after militants seized a school near the Chechnya region, igniting a three-day siege that ended with the deaths of more than 300 people (Reuters/Yahoo!News, Sept. 1).

Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), original authors of the U.S. efforts to secure Russian nuclear warheads and dismantle nuclear delivery systems, proposed further action.

Russia's Duma, according to Lugar, has in recent months delayed ratification of an agreement to facilitate new funding by the world's industrialized nations to secure Russian weapons of mass destruction.

"Russia's Duma and the Russian hierarchy felt this (effort to secure vulnerable arsenals) was interesting but not very essential," Lugar said.  "Perhaps now they should ... act with urgency."

Nunn urged greater transparency regarding protection of small nuclear weapons, which he described as "weapons that one man can carry that can wipe out a good part of a major city."

"Both [the United States and Russia] should have transparency to assure that small weapons that can be transported easily are secured," he said.

Nunn also proposed that the United States help to consolidate Russia's nuclear stockpile, which is widely dispersed across the country in a Cold War configuration designed to increase survivability of some warheads in case of attack.

"We should offer to help Russia consolidate their nuclear weapons in a few areas," Nunn said.  "And then guard the heck out of them" (Martin Schram, Scripps Howard/Cincinnati Post, Sept. 9).

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Sam Nunn is chief executive officer of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.  NTI is the sole sponsor of Global Security Newswire, which is published independently by National Journal Group.]

September 10, 2004
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Extra troops were sent to guard Russian nuclear facilities across the country last week after militants seized a school in the southern town of Beslan and a suicide bomber killed 10 people in Moscow, Reuters reported (see GSN, May 24).

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