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Russia: Scientist Tells 'Suitcase Bomb' Story

Washington, 3 October 1997 (RFE/RL/) - A former scientific adviser to Russian President Boris Yeltsin told a U.S. congressional committee yesterday that the Soviet KGB developed portable nuclear weapons and that the location of many of these weapons today is not known.

Academician Alexei Yablokov met members of a House of Representatives National Security subcommittee and supported the assertions of Yeltsin's former national security chief Alexander Lebed.

In a number of recent statements, Lebed has contended that 100 of the small bombs were produced and that more than a dozen of them are unaccounted for. Russian officials have denied the existence of these weapons and assert that the government has tight control over Russia's nuclear weapons stockpile.

Yablokov, however, says Russia's nuclear security officials cannot be trusted. He repeated statements he has made in Russia, namely that he was told of the existence of the portable weapons by people who developed them, and that Defense Ministry officials may not even have been aware of the weapons because they were ordered by the KGB.

The topic of Russian nuclear security, along with the growth of Russian organized crime, has got a lot of attention in Washington this week. The Republican Party majority in both chambers of the U.S. Congress contends the administration of Democratic President Bill Clinton is not doing enough to protect the U.S. from the threats posed by unsecured nuclear weapons and by organized crime. The White House says those charges are not true.