Nuclear & Strategic Threats Concerning The US
Brief Nukes Discussion
Author PD Smith in "Doomsday Men" (ISBN13-9780-312-37397-9) describes on page 350 the EPB
Emergency Plan Book of 1958 developed by FEMA:"The EPB also anticipates that weapons employed by claudstein methods,
such as smuggled atom bombs would be detonated...." The Emergency Plan Book was a formerly classified book which was
declassified in 1998 and considered the real possibility an adversary would preposition portable nuclear weapons on American
soil. The documents on down the page review the matter in more detail:
Russian Roulette From PBS By Alexi
***The comments of Alexei Yablokov, former science adviser to Boris Yeltsin;
Russian General Vladimir Dvorkin; policy expert Matthew Bunn; U.S. General
Eugene Habiger; and U.S. Congressman Curt Weldon.
"In 1997, the public became aware of a Russian
nuclear device they had not known even existed--
the so-called suitcase bomb. These devices were made
for the Soviet KGB. One of these bombs had an explosive
charge of one kiloton, equivalent to one thousand tons of TNT.
If a device like this made its way to the U.S. it could destroy everything
within a half-mile radius of the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Within hours,
prevailing winds would carry the nuclear fallout throughout Washington.
The comments of Alexei Yablokov, former science adviser to Boris Yeltsin;
Russian General Vladimir Dvorkin; policy expert Matthew Bunn; U.S. General
Eugene Habiger; and U.S. Congressman Curt Weldon. In the 1960s the U.S. built
its own version of a mini nuclear device-- the Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM).
It weighed 80-100 pounds, was small enough to fit in a duffel bag or large case and was
designed for sabotage missions-- airfields, bridges, dams. Like the Russian device, it
had an explosive charge of roughly one thousand tons of TNT ( one kiloton).
Film of the SADM was declassified in 1997 and shows how it would be deployed by a
parachutist for a jump mission into water to reach a target. Although the parachute
jumps and retrieval operations were rehearsed many times, the project was never put
to use and these nuclear devices do not exist in current stockpiles."
Do "backpack" nuclear weapons exist?
Yes, small atomic charges exist. They are very small. Several dozen kilos,
thirty kilos, forty kilos. I spoke with people that made them, I saw them.
The American specimens can be seen on the Internet, they can be seen on photographs,
they can even be seen in the movies. I have never seen Russian analogies, I have only
seen American ones, but Russian ones do exist, because I spoke with people who made
them, and I believe these people, these people knew what they were talking about.
And there was data published about it. ... Some was published in the newspaper of
a town in the south of the Urals in a little paper, and it said there that the
prominent achievement is that they have manufactured a miniature atomic charge. ...
No one knows how many exist ... . Lebed mentioned that there's forty-eight, or a
hundred and fifty, but no one knows for certain.
How Powerful Are They?
Their power is about one kiloton, possibly less, but a powerful charge. You
cannot destroy Moscow or London, but the Kremlin, you can destroy ... Capitol
Hill can be wiped out by such a bomb. ...
Why Are You Raising The Issue?
I talk about tactical nuclear arms, and including mini-nukes, nuclear cases,
because I believe that, after the end of the cold war, the situation with nuclear
arms has become much more dangerous. During the cold war, everything was under
strict control, now it's not the case anymore. Now, it's becoming clear to us
that tactical nuclear arms pose a great threat in people's minds. People think
that, "Well, the American President and the Russian President have nuclear cases
and only after the President presses a button in it, then something happens."
But that's not the case regarding tactical nuclear arms. If we've got tactical
nuclear arms and small briefcase bombs, a terrorist version of it, it's not going
to be up to the President to decide where and at what time to set the bomb off.
So, tactical nuclear arms exist under less control than the strategic nuclear arms.
The power is much smaller of tactical ones, but the control is also much weaker.
Therefore, it now poses a greater threat to society, that's why I keep talking about it.
We know that Chechnyan leaders announced that they've got two nuclear bombs. But
we checked it out, and it seems that it's not the case. Palestinian terrorists
also made statements to that effect, they said they've got several atomic bombs
which they've purchased in the Soviet Union, but hopefully, they are also bluffing.
But, in reality, the danger comes from within the country, from within Russia. We've
got about one hundred organizations of a fascist nature. These fascist organizations
have got many military who know where these bombs are located, who know how to use
them. And if, inside the country, there's a struggle for power, and these fascists
and nationalists get hold of these bombs--there's a small chance, but there is that
chance, much smaller than Chechnya or Palestine--but, if that happens, that will be
terrible. That's why I'm talking about this, that's why tactical nuclear arms, these
small nuclear bombs, ought to be destroyed as soon as possible. ...
When this scandal with the nuclear mini-bombs erupted, and when it became clear
to me that tactical nuclear arms poses a greater threat than strategic ones, I sent a
letter to President Yeltsin saying that I would hate to publish all the data but I'd
like to draw your attention to this and take measures. I had a call from the Kremlin,
from the Defense Council ... a decision was taken ... it was deemed necessary to make
a ruling which would impose more strict control over tactical nuclear arms. I was told
that such a decree would be worked out, and I offered my own draft of such a decree and
I sent such a draft to the President [and the Defense Council]. I don't know what the
state of affairs is now, it's been three months since I submitted my draft decree. ...
Did you ever talk to General Lebed about this?
I never spoke with General Lebed about this question. I don't know what General
Lebed thinks. I've only heard his statement, and I saw it printed in newspapers.
When General Lebed was the Secretary of the Security Council, someone mentioned
this weapon to him, and he appointed a special commission to look into the matter,
and this commission was headed by one of his aides, with whom I'm acquainted. And
he gave an interview and he said that the commission's been investigating, ... and
they have found [these weapons], they've established that they exist, there is no
doubt about the fact that they exist, they know where they are, the only question
is, have they been able to locate all? They said they'd found several dozen, but
it's not clear whether they've managed to locate all existing.
Did you ever talk to General Lebed about this?
Why did you testify before the US Congress?
.. On the request of [Representative] Weldon, whom I know for a long time, I made a
statement in the Committee on National Defense, in the [House]. And we spoke on the
dangers of the tactical nuclear arms. Sometimes you have to go to America and make a
statement there, or, like when Lebed spoke about these problems here, no one listened
to him. But when he gave an interview to Reuters, the entire world heard about it, and
our people back at home began to worry, too. So I agreed, at the request of Congressman
Weldon, to appear before the ... committee... Because, the problem, as I said, is a very
worrying one and concerns us all.
What was the reaction in Russia
to your statements in America?
When I returned, an independent newspaper ... published a dirty article, accusing me of
being an American spy. They insisted that Yablokov is an American spy and that he is
using ecological organizations in order to collect classified data. It's all lies. I
was so indignant that I filed a court case against [the paper]. And the press secretary
of the Atomic Ministry, I sued him as well. And this court case will take place a few
days from now.
Can you tell me about your work?
All my life I was a biologist, but, towards the end of Gorbachev's perestroika, I
began to be interested in ecology. Towards the end of Gorbachev's perestroika, I
believed that it's time to take part in political life. I was elected to the Soviet
Parliament, I was Deputy Chairman of the Ecological Commission of Russia. But before
the collapse of the Soviet Union, Boris Yeltsin offered me to become his aide in charge
of ecological affairs, and for three years, I was his aide in charge of ecology. Recently,
I was chairman on a commission on ecological security. Now I've finished my work in
administration, and I've returned to the Science Academy. And also to the ecological
politics in Russia. It's a small ecological organization, and our goal is to help the
government to resolve urgent ecological problems ... .
Do you think Russian officials are
misleading the public opinion?
The fact that they mislead the public is absolutely clear. When Lebed first talked about
it ... he said that he tried to locate all the small atomic charges, but he was unable to
do that because he was sacked. The first official reaction was that Lebed is mad, he is
talking rubbish. And then I said, no, it's possible, because I spoke to people who
manufactured the briefcase bomb. And then this flow was centered on me, all these
lies. The federal intelligence ... , the former KGB, [announced] that this is
impossible. The press secretary for the Defense Ministry said, "We know what
atomic bombs are, we have never heard of briefcase bombs." The Ministry for
Atomic Energy said the very same thing, that we've never heard of anything
like that. But, if I'm looking at a photograph of these devices, I know
they've been made, simply on the Internet. My American friends say, why
don't you have a look on the Internet, there are photographs there of
small, portable, American made bombs. And then, bit by bit, people
began to say, of course, yes, they exist, but Yablokov is disclosing
state secrets. What state secrets are we talking about? ... We insisted
that we have full parity in terms of nuclear arms, that we have everything
that the Americans have got; this was our official position. So, if I'm
looking at a [picture] of an American weapon, I must be sure that we have an analogy. ...
more about yablokov...
President Yeltsin's former Science Advisor, Alexei Yablokov, testified to the
American Congress regarding the so-called suitcase bombs; the small, atomic
demolition devices. Can you confirm the existence of these weapons?
I don't really know anything about these devices. I know that some small devices
of this type existed both in the United States and in Russia, but why they should
be needed in a suitcase format, that's something really for terrorists; I don't
think they can really fulfill any kind of deterrence function. ... But even if
they did exist, this kind of mobile nuclear bombs or devices, this is something
that would have to be reproduced on a regular basis. Made again. Any kind of
nuclear device or bomb has a shelf life. And once the service life has run out,
then the charges on these devices become more dangerous. They become more dangerous
for the people that are actually in possession of them.
You're referring to the tritium; the half-life of some of the materials?Not only, there
are a lot of other factors that lead to the decreased efficiency of devices like that
... . But I don't know anything about the system and I don't really see why it would
make sense. But the most important answer would be that I don't know this field. ...
General Lebed, when he came and testified before the Congress, evidently said that
at one point he had known about them, evidently. And he had tried to account for
all of them and couldn't find some of them. Then when a team tried to inquire about
it later, he said that he was under investigation for revealing state secrets for
even having talked about it. Do you know anything about that end of the story at all?
Well, I've heard about this incident. I can tell you that Lebed is probably the least
informed person as far as this topic is concerned. I considered him a big specialist,
really, an expert in the military folklore. That's really where it stops.
He says that he was charged with actually making an accounting of these things. Was
he not a general, highly-placed enough to know? Well, theoretically, he could have
dealt with these issues only when he was the Secretary of the Security Council. That
was a very short period of time, and he had quite a few other problems to deal with.
But he could not be qualified to even deal with this issue, in principle, because
that's outside of his expertise. more about dvorkin...
Were we ever able to confirm
that suitcase bombs existed?
Not that I'm aware of. Both United States and Russia of course built tactical nuclear
weapons that were quite small in size ... . We had, for example, what we called atomic
demolition munitions, that were designed to be carried in a backpack. ... I doubt that
there was ever anything that was specifically designed to be carried in something that
looked like a suitcase, though I couldn't rule it out. My personal judgment is that
there probably aren't 100 or 20 or however many suitcase bombs that are missing in
the former Soviet Union, although I would guess that Lebed, when he made his initial
statements, probably in good faith believed there were. The way the Russian accounting
system works, everything is accounted for on paper. And there's reams of gigantic paper
log books. You could easily imagine a situation where Lebed sent somebody to check at a
particular facility, and there's a 19-year-old guard there, and he looks in the book and
says, "Gee, there's supposed to be 100 here and it turns out there are only 30." And the
reason is, there's another log book over here that the 19-year-old forgot about, that
describes how many had been shipped off to such-and-such a place to be dismantled, or
something like that. ...
Could [Lebed] have been talking about the backpack-size devices rather than suitcase bombs?
Sure. He could have been. I wouldn't want to speculate as to exactly what it was Lebed was
trying to communicate. In some of the subsequent interviews he gave, he back-pedaled
significantly and just said, "Well, it's a possibility that these things might be missing,"
rather than, "They are definitely missing, and here's how many are missing." So it's a bit
hard for me to parse exactly what he really thinks is the situation. Congressman Weldon said
that we thought that the KGB might have commissioned a suitcase-size specimen of the small
atomic demolition device, as a thing to sell to terrorists specifically. Does that wash with
anything you know? I don't think it was as something to sell to terrorists. It was something,
I believe, for the KGB's use, was the claim. Alexei Yablokov made that claim in print, in the
Russian press. I haven't looked at the intelligence in enough detail to follow that. But it
was denied by essentially everyone in a position of authority in the Russian military and
nuclear system....more about bunn...
Yeltsin's former Science Advisor, Alexei Yablokov, came to the US last year and
testified about suitcase bombs that KGB or somebody was making for terrorist use.
Do we know whether these things existed? If so, do the Russians now know where they all are?
Yes, we knew they existed. Suitcase nuclear bomb is, I think, a little optimistic. It's
certainly something that ... I would be hard pressed to carry. It's fairly big and it's
fairly heavy. The Russians, again from what I saw, go to great lengths in the accountability
of their nuclear devices. We are spending a lot of money under Nunn-Lugar to automate that
system. Our system is very automated, and we test it on a regular basis. The Russian system
is more manpower-intensive. It's pretty much a stubby pencil and a spreadsheet kind of thing.
But I was shown how they account for their nuclear weapons. And I was told that these smaller
devices are included in that same accountability system. I mean, General Yakoulev took me in
his office--General Yakoulev is the commander-in-chief of the Rocket Forces--and showed me an
IBM computer screen, and ... Yakoulev can track where every nuclear weapon is in his system by
serial number. I couldn't do that from my headquarters. ... If the Russians were as deadly
serious about the accountability of the nuclear weapons that I saw and have been involved with,
I can only surmise that they have the same concerns with the smaller weapons. There have been
a number of Russians that have come over here and thrown a grenade on the table of some of our
Congressional committees, saying that there lot of loose suitcase bombs out there. I don't
think so. ...more about habiger...
Could you tell me how you first
found out about the existence of suitcase bombs?
Over the past several years in my work with Russia and its leaders, I have reached
out to have conversations with all the senior leaders of the various factions in
Russia, one of whom is General Alexander Lebed, a very prominent official credited
with ending both the Chechnyan war and the war in Moldova. On my second meeting with
him in Moscow last May  with a delegation of five or six other members, I was
discussing with him the security of Russia's nuclear arsenal, and the status of
conditions in the Russian military. This was not a meeting that any press attended,
there was no press conference before the event or after the event, it was a quiet,
off the record meeting to discuss in an intelligent way ... what were his perceptions
relative to Russian control of their nuclear arsenal and their conventional forces.
And he gave us ... examples of his concerns, examples of senior Soviet military
leaders being forced out, being embarrassed and having to resort to illegal operations
to make a living, and how we should be worried in the West because these very successful
and capable soldiers and leaders were now having to resort to selling off technology that
presents a real danger for the world. He went into the status of Russian nuclear submarines
being decommissioned, with no place to store them, no means to take apart these nuclear
submarines, and the terrible problem that Russia has today with ... nuclear submarines
being stored in ports potentially subject to an earthquake or another incident that
could cause terrible degradation of the environment.
And then he went into ... what he reported to Boris Yeltsin as Secretary of the National
Security Council. He said one of his assignments was to account for 132 suitcase size
nuclear weapons that the Soviet Union had manufactured during the sixties, the seventies
and the eighties, much like we manufactured in our country, even though today we no longer
have small atomic demolition munitions, we've destroyed them all. ... He said he could only
find 48. We were startled. We said, "General, what do you mean, you can only find 48?" He
said, "That's all we could locate. We don't know what the status of the other devices were,
we just could not locate them." ...
The Russian media tried to portray Lebed as trying to gain notoriety for his campaign.
There was nothing of that at all occurring. There were no media present. Two months later,
after I returned to the US and I debriefed our intelligence community to give me their
assessment of what Lebed had said, I filed my trip report, as is required by Members of
Congress. In the trip report, I mentioned General Lebed's comments. A producer for 60
Minutes ... contacted me, and she said, "Congressman, did General Lebed really say this?"
And I said, "Absolutely." She then asked to interview me and went over to Moscow and
interviewed General Lebed. That was the first contact by a member of the media, and
that was at the end of July, early August. That story then ran nationally in America
on 60 Minutes, and following that there was a tremendous outcry. The Russian government
denounced Lebed, the Russian media called him a traitor, they denied that he would know
anything about these demolition devices. In some cases, senior Russian leaders denied
they ever built these devices and said, "This is a fabrication, that Lebed is totally
wrong." I then invited my good friend Dr. Alexei Yablokov to come to Washington in
October, because he also knew something about these devices. And in a public hearing,
Dr. Yablokov ... said that he knew scientists who had worked on these devices. And in
fact he said that he thought part of the problem in accounting for them may have been
because some of his colleagues who worked on these devices told him they were building
them for the KGB, and therefore if they were being built for the KGB, they may not have
been included under the counting of the Ministry of Defense, an entirely separate operation.
So therefore, he encouraged us to work jointly with his country to work together to see if
in fact we could locate and then destroy these devices. It was not an attempt by him to
embarrass his country, it was an attempt by him to get to the facts and the heart of the
issue. Again, Yablokov was treated terribly by the Russian media. They called him a traitor,
they said he was coming over to America and giving false information.
Finally, I went to Russia on my 13th trip out of 14 or 15 that I've taken, last December,
and I requested, besides my other meetings, a meeting with the Defense Minister, Minister
Sergeyev, as you know, General of the Chief Command Staff for some 20 years. And I said to
General Sergeyev, after a wide range of topics that we discussed in a session that lasted
well over an hour, I asked him specifically, "One, did you build small atomic demolition
munitions, as we suspect you did? Two, do you know where they are? And three, have you
destroyed them all?" And to me he said, "Yes, we did build them, we are in the process of
destroying them, and by the year 2000 we will have destroyed all of our small atomic
demolition devices, the so-called nuclear suitcases." Now, I have no reason to doubt
General Sergeyev. In fact, I have a lot of respect for him. He impressed me very much
in the meeting that I had with him. But again, I don't know whether or not we in fact
know that they have the whereabouts known of each of these devices. I have confidence
that what he told me is true. They will destroy all the devices that they currently
know the whereabouts of. That's not the question. The question is what about devices
that Russia may not have an accounting of? Do they exist? Do we have an accurate way
of counting them? ...
How big are these things?
Well, it depends upon what you describe as a suitcase. Our understanding is that
Russia manufactured three different types of these devices, most of them able to
be carried by two people. Some able to be carried by one strong person. The typical
size would be maybe like a large trunk, or in perhaps like a large suitcase, probably
weighing someplace in the neighborhood of 50 to 100 pounds. These devices would be self
activated, which means you would not have to have some central command, as you do the
long range missiles, but rather that [the] individual controlling that device could
in fact set that device for activation and actually activate it ... independently
from some central command. But these are devices that, yes, could be carried
portably. There's no reason why they couldn't be put on a barge or a ship and
floated into a harbor. And the devastation that they would present to that area
would be beyond anyone's imagination.
What is the scale of damage that a terrorist could do with one of these things? First of
all, it would change the whole face of the earth in terms of our outlook on terrorism.
Because you're not talking about a bomb that would blow up perhaps one part of one
building, as we saw in Oklahoma, or you see repeatedly in London. You're talking
about a bomb, a device with a capability of one kiloton of destruction, which is
a massive capability that would cause severe destruction of a major inner city
area, perhaps causing a multitude of buildings to collapse with the people inside
of them. So you'd have a massive loss of life, you'd have massive radioactive
contamination and you'd have massive havoc, unlike any that we've prepared for
in the past. Just the threat of that kind of incident alone can change the face
of the world in terms of the way we deal with terrorists. That's why a full
accounting of these kinds of weapons has got to be the number one priority of both the
US and Russia.
And following on this issue of small nuclear devices is the whole issue of tactical
nuclear weapons. I mean, one of the things that is not included in arms control
negotiations between the US and Russia are tactical nukes. Tactical nukes are
smaller devices that can wreak havoc. They too, in the wrong hands, could cause
massive destruction and loss of life. And that's why in our discussions with Russia
we must include the beginning of a formal counting process and the beginning of a
limitation process on tactical nuclear weapons, not just those long range ICBMs.
Because I would argue that the potential for a small atomic demolition device or
a tactical nuclear device is even greater than the possibility of an accidental
launch of a long range ICBM. ...
Lebed has said that he's been prevented really from talking about the suitcase bombs.
What's going on there? Why isn't he allowed to talk freely about what is potentially
a problem for the world? I think it's partly because the Russian government and the
media have tried to portray him as creating sensational stories in the West, when
that was not his original intent. The sensationalization of the story came about
by the Russian government and the Russian media itself, in response to Lebed's
interview on 60 Minutes. What Lebed asked for and what Yablokov asked for were
deliberate, very detailed efforts by our country to assist Russia, not to create
any embarrassment for Russia, but for us to assist ... them in helping them deal
with the problem. ... I think Russia took a very defensive posture that these two
individuals were out to embarrass the motherland. When I totally read the opposite.
I read their attempts to interact with us [as] a pleading for us to come in and assist
Russia in identifying these devices, locating them, using whatever detection means we
have, and then destroying them. Something that we should be doing together. Again, as
a country, America has not always handled nuclear materials in the most correct manner
possible, and so this is not an attempt to try to embarrass Russia, but rather to focus
on the potential problem that could come about from one of these devices, be they small
atomic demolition nuclear suitcase or a tactical nuke, from getting into the wrong hands.
General Lebed is now in a position where the State Prosecutor is investigating him for
disclosure of state secrets. Do you think that in retaliation for speaking to you? I asked
General Lebed about this when he appeared before my committee just earlier this year, and he
said it's interesting that they could charge him if in fact he didn't know what he was talking about. If, as they said, he didn't know what he was talking about, how could they charge him with a crime? If they're in fact charging him with a crime, then that must indicate he did know what he was talking about, in which case it means the Russian government was lying all this period of time when they said he did not know what he was talking about. But either way, it's not a state secret. General Sergeyev has told me, a Member of Congress, that they made these devices, that they are in fact are in the process of destroying them. So that's in the public realm. And to somehow try to create some false accusation against General Lebed or Alexei Yablokov is just demeaning, I think, to a country that I have a great deal of respect for. I respect the Russian people, and I desperately want to assist them in this time of difficulty, but taking the steps to overreact and to pass tighter restrictive laws, as they've done, only hurts the democracy that's just beginning to take hold there. ...
Discussion of Technical Errors and Mistakes
On Portable Nuclear Munitions
1. The focus of the articles appears to concern the idea that a suitcase size nuke would be detonated in
time of war under a decapitation scenerio
2. If the weapons exist they are not offensive in nature of they would have been used decades ago as a
statement of the obvious.
3. The suitcase nuke theory closely resembles the Soviet Dead Hand Doctrine explained in
Author PD Smith in "Doomsday Men" (ISBN13-9780-312-37397-9)
4. Several suitcase size nukes could be configured into a 2nd generation themonuclear weapon of at least
25 megaton range.
Discussion of Technical Errors Regarding FEMA
The idea that after the entire primary government structures has been eliminated that FEMA could simply
turn a switch and replace vital services to millions of Americans is nonsensical in the extreme.