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Russia: Existence Of Nuclear Suitcase Bombs Denied

Moscow, 23 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - A Russian government spokesman denied today the existence of portable nuclear bombs saying the allegations could be aimed at complicating United States-Russian talks.

Spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov told a news briefing that speculation about the suitcase-sized bombs was deliberately timed to coincide with talks between U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin that ended earlier today in Moscow. Shabdurasulov said people behind such speculations wanted to put Russia "in a disadvantageous negotiating position" but did not elaborate.

Former Russian Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed said earlier this month that the Russian military had lost track of more than 100 suitcase-sized nuclear bombs. Aleksei Yablokov, a former presidential environmental adviser, later said Lebed's statement was not groundless. Russian Defence Minister Igor Sergeyev has said that Russia's nuclear arsenal is under strict control.