The Truth about Russian Suitcase Nukes...

Discussion in 'Other Off Topic Forum' started by RussianM3_dude, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. RussianM3_dude

    RussianM3_dude F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    Full Name:
    Nikolai Petroff
    I have recently read a few very interesting articles on the topic of these infamous devices and would like to, in brief, give some main points from a most recent one. This is believed to be the first official confirmation of their existence.

    The Interview is conducted with ex chief of staff of the Russian Armed Forces Victor Esin. (Given to the "Weekly Journal" the interview also appears on it is in Russian however.)

    In Autumn of 1997 ex-general Alexander Lebed (Presidential Candidate, perished in an air crash) alleged the existence of the so-called "nuclear suitcases" to be used by saboteurs against strategic targets in the West. According to the ex-general out of 132 produced, 48 were unnaccounted for and presumed to be in the hands of Chechen Islamists. A serial number PA-115 (RA-115) was given for one of the weapons presumed lost. It is actually a designation for this family of weapons, not individual device.

    A number of other sources allege that Soviet Union produced in total of 700 so-called "nuclear mines" throughout it's history.

    (The following is a translation of the main points of the interview, edited by me, for I do not feel like translating and typing out the whole thing.)

    Suitcase Nukes, are they fact ot fiction?

    -Victor Esin.
    First of all, I would like to clarify some terms. "Nuclear suit-case" is a term invented by the media. In reality they are referd to as Compact Tactical Nuclear Devices of Back Pack Type. They are more comparable in size to a fridge. There are no nuclear suitcases, nuclear hanbags, nuclear purses or nuclear sac-de-voyage.
    In fact US armed forces and USMC had similiar devices since 1964 designated M-129 and M-159 and reffered to as Special Atomic Demolition Munitions or SADM, ranging from 0.01 to 1 kiloton.
    These weapons are considered comparable to the Soviet devices and measure 87-65-67 cm. and weigh approximately 70 kg including the back pack.
    In both USA and Russia these munitions were supposed to be dismantled prior to 2000. As of 2000 most have indeed been decomissioned. (On both sides.)

    Is it reasonable to assume though, that some of them could have been stolen prior to decomissioning?
    -Victor Esin.
    In 1998 Boris Eltsin (Russian President) created a special commision to investigate the state of Russian Nuclear arsenal following an outcry from some Western Goverments, drawing from Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Nuclear. No instances of theft of any nuclear device of any sort after and prior to collapse of the Soviet Union were recorded.

    In theory, is there a possibility of theft or illigal sale of a Russian nuclear device?
    -Victor Esin.
    I can confirm with 100% certainty that this is impossible. Moreover, as for the compact nuclear devices, they were at all times stored on the territory of Russia (as opposed to Soviet Republics that became independent) in a single storage facility. However a number of training devices were produced to instruct the operators of these weapons, which are exact copies including the control units and total net weight. These were filled with bags of sand to approximate the weight of the real weapon and did not contain any actual nuclear components. It is possible that a few went indeed missing as these were not equally protected.
    I do however remain concerned by the prospect of so called "dirty bombs" which can be assembled with left-over nuclear waste or radioactive materials from the medical industry. They obviously would not be able to go nuclear, but would cause widespread panic.
    The expertise to construct them does not exceede one needed to assemble a "Shaheed Belt" (suicide belt).

    In theory however, is it possible to build a nuclear device in the 15-20 kg range?
    -Victor Esin.
    It is possible in theory but new kinds of radioactive materials would have to be used (Trans-plutonium elements) which have a very short half-life and thus the weapon would have a maximun shelf life of 3-4 months. The financial invetments in these weapons make them prohibitevly expensive as whole new manufacturing methods would have to be devised.
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  3. ryalex

    ryalex Two Time F1 World Champ
    Consultant Owner

    Aug 6, 2003
    Las Vegas, NV
    Full Name:
    Ryan Alexander
    Thanks, good post. Very interesting. I've wondered if the suitcase-sized nuclear weapon was viable - apparently not.
  4. thecarreaper

    thecarreaper F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Sep 30, 2003
    second that!
  5. Admiral Thrawn

    Admiral Thrawn F1 Rookie

    Jul 2, 2003
    In the recent film with Ben Affleck called "The Sum of All Fears", the nuke is concealed within a cigarette machine, about the same size as a soda dispenser.

    That's about as small as they go at the moment.
  6. RacerX_GTO

    RacerX_GTO F1 World Champ
    Silver Subscribed

    Nov 2, 2003
    Full Name:
    Gabe V.
    A recent as 1988, the United States military inventory did include the SDAM/MDAM "suitcase" nuke. The details of this device fall into the top secret catagory, but nonetheless, a small high energy device of this sort has been developed at that time.

    But you don't need those anymore when you can load up a Tomahawk.
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  8. whart

    whart F1 Veteran

    Dec 5, 2001
    Grandview NY
    Full Name:
    Herr Prof.
    Great. So, on top of worrying about folks wearing trenchcoats and sweatshirts in the summer, i've got to watch out for soda machines.Ahh, for the good old days, when it was simply a cold war, eh Nikolai?
  9. RussianM3_dude

    RussianM3_dude F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    Full Name:
    Nikolai Petroff
    Yes sir! The Cold War - the good old days. None of your moral ambiguity, no Sir! When men were men, you could slap your secretary on the bum and say "Hey there sweet buns". You were either red or red white and blue. You were with us or against us. A war between Gentlemen and not camel jokies.
    Hmm, when does China become a superpower anyway?
  10. Artherd

    Artherd F1 Veteran

    Jun 19, 2002
    Bay Area, CA
    Full Name:
    Ben Cannon
    Hmm, how come that dosen't make me sleep any better at night?

    Yeah, and there's nothing wrong with the Kirsch(k?) either, right?
  11. Tyler

    Tyler F1 Rookie

    Dec 19, 2001
    dusty old farm town
    Full Name:

    Too soon for my taste.

    I'm more concerned with a biological attack than a nuclear attack.
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  13. Mr Payne

    Mr Payne F1 Rookie

    Jan 8, 2004
    Bakersfield, CA
    Full Name:
  14. RussianM3_dude

    RussianM3_dude F1 Rookie

    Mar 15, 2004
    Full Name:
    Nikolai Petroff
    Well, the Kursk sub disaster was just that. Nukes were never compromised. "Boomer" (ICBM carrying sub) based nukes are the safest in terms of stockpile security. A father of one of my friends was a commander of an ICBM battery and he bsically says the same thing. It is impossible to steal a warhead from a missile entombed in a concrete silo. All the tactical nukes a stored in a few arsenals many beyond the polar cicle in "closed" cities. (ie anybody foreign or even just not from the town and lacking specialised papers will be snuffed out.)

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