. In an article in yesterday’s main armed forces newspaper, Strategic Missile Corps Commander-in-Chief Colonel General Igor Sergeev faulted the government for having so far allocated only 30 percent of the financing needed to organize the reliable safeguarding of weapons-grade plutonium. Missile officers can tolerate an austerity regime, he remarked, but nuclear warheads will not respond to arguments or entreaties. (3)
Funding for the reprocessing plants at Russia’s three plutonium cities–Tomsk, Krasnoyarsk and Chelyabinsk–has been slashed, and workers, often unpaid, toil under conditions of lax or non-existent security arrangements. Military and civilian reprocessing plants in these cities churn out about three tons of fresh plutonium annually from dismantled nuclear warheads. Add to this about 30 tons of stockpiled plutonium at Chelyabinsk and another 50-100 tons expected to come out of Russia’s dismantled warheads over the next 20 years and it is clear why a panel of the US National Academy of Sciences last year labeled this surplus weapons fuel "a clear and present danger to (US) national security." Many experts consider "loose nukes" the number one security risk facing the United States and rate the likelihood of a nuclear detonation on American soil to have gone up, not down, since the end of the Cold War. This is in large part because of the persuasiveness of crime in Russia and Mafia connections with both the remnants of the former Soviet Union’s nuclear establishment and terrorist groups abroad.
Air Defense Systems Becoming Obsolete.