Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 179

Russian officials continue to deny former Security Council secretary Aleksandr Lebed’s allegations that as many as 100 small nuclear weapons might be missing. Yesterday, Lt. Gen. Igor Volynkin, who heads the Defense Ministry’s 12th Main Directorate and is responsible for the security of the military’s nuclear weapons, might have gone a little too far in trying to refute Lebed’s accusations. Volynkin said that such small weapons "have never been produced in this country," adding that their production "in practice makes no sense because their service life is just a few months."

Both of those claims are highly suspicious. Russia and the U.S. have been producing small nuclear warheads for decades, and each fielded small nuclear artillery shells, some weighing less than 100 pounds. In the U.S. arsenal, the smallest Atomic Demolition Munition (ADM) — the military term for the type of weapons Lebed has been describing — weighed just slightly more than that, and the Soviet Union acknowledged having similar weapons when Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 pledged to destroy them over several years. All of these weapons had service lives far in excess of Volynkin’s hypothetical example.

Lebed stated that he learned about the Russian ADMs while he was serving as secretary of the Security Council. Yesterday the current occupant of that post, Ivan Rybkin, denied any knowledge of the weapons’ existence and said that the council has no documents on this issue. (Russian agencies, September 25)

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