Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 69

Russia’s deputy minister for atomic energy, Nikolai Yegorov, has characterized an account by a Russian disarmament expert of a 1993 theft of two nuclear warheads as "idiotic" According to Yegorov, no nuclear warheads have ever been stolen in Russia.

The expert, Vladimir Orlov, is reported to have told a Bonn seminar early this month that a pair of drunken Russian workmen stole 2 nuclear warheads as a prank in November 1993. The story was published on April 20 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. Orlov would only identify the site of the alleged incident as a "Factory X," located east of the Ural Mountains. He said the two men stole the weapons on a bet, and that the warheads were later found in a parking garage in a near-by residential area. Orlov is the head of the Moscow Institute for Security and Politics. (Reuter, Xinhua, April 20-21)

"Factory X" could refer to Lesnoi — once known as Sverdlovsk-45 — Russia’s largest nuclear weapons assembly plant. It is located some 200 kilometers north of Yekaterinburg. And while it might seem impossible that two tipsy workmen could man-handle a pair of nuclear warheads, the Russians did produce some very small nuclear weapons, such as 152mm and 203mm artillery rounds.

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