Report Evaluates Russian Nuclear Weapons Security

Article excerpt

A FEBRUARY 2002 annual report to Congress from the National Intelligence Council concludes that Russia maintains "adequate" control over its nuclear weapons but warns that although "nuclear [weapons complex] security has been slowly improving over the last several years, risks remain."

Russia maintains "adequate security and control of its nuclear weapons, but a decline in military funding has stressed the nuclear security system," the report states. The document characterizes an unauthorized or accidental use of a Russian nuclear weapon as "highly unlikely," given "current technical and procedural safeguards."

However, the report qualifies this positive assessment, noting, "The security system was designed in the Soviet era to protect weapons primarily against a threat outside the country and may not be sufficient to meet today's challenge of a knowledgeable insider collaborating with a criminal or terrorist group."

The document also assesses the security problems at Russia's nuclear complex, noting that "security varies widely" among Russia's facilities and institutes. "Facilities housing weapons-usable nuclear material.. typically receive low funding, lack trained security personnel, and do not have sufficient equipment for securely storing such material," the report states.

The report also observes that "weapons-grade and weapons-usable nuclear materials have been stolen from some Russian institutes. …