Russia Says It Never Produced Nuclear Suitcases


On 25 September 1997, the Russian Ministry of Defense denied allegations by former Russian national security adviser Alexandr Lebed that up to 100 portable 'nuclear suitcase' bombs are missing. According to Igor Valynkin, head of the nuclear security department of the ministry, Russia had never even produced nuclear suitcase bombs. Though theoretically it would be possible to produce such a device, Valynkin said that the cost of having to replace the devices every few months would be much too great.

Valykin also responded to claims made by President Yeltsin's former environmental safety adviser Alexei Yablokov that the Soviet Union produced nuclear suitcase bombs for the KGB for terrorist purposes and the Russian Ministry of Defense may simply have no record of the devices. Valykin denied these claims, asserting that the Ministry of Defense had always possessed sole authority over Soviet and Russian nuclear stockpiles and neither the KGB nor current Russian intelligence agencies would have the ability to produce the devices in question. According to Valykin, the Russian Ministry of Defense and the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy (Minatom) have worked together to maintain detailed records of the entire Russian nuclear stockpile and any loss of nuclear material would be immediately detected. Commenting on the financial crisis afflicting the entire Russian military, Valynkin said that the Ministry of Defense has paid back wages to its staff and has started to gradually upgrade its safety equipment. The Russian government has restated its commitment to international nuclear nonproliferation agreements. [see also 26 September 1997 - Jamestown Monitor, 'The General Doth Protest Too Muche (sic);' and 25 September 1997 - RFE/RL Newsline, 'Russian General Denies Existence Of Suitcase Nukes;' and 30 September 1997 - RFE/RL Newsline, 'Defense Officials Deny Lebed's Nuclear Suitcase Claims;', by Floriana Fossato.]

Abstract Number:  19970930
Headline:  Russia Says It Never Produced Nuclear Suitcases
Date:  25 September 1997
Bibliography:  Reuters
Author:  Gareth Jones
Material:  nuclear weapons

September 25, 1997

This article is part of a collection examining reported incidents of nuclear or radioactive materials trafficking in or originating from the Newly Independent States.

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.