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 NEWSru.com 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.) -Interviewer. 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.) -Interviwer. 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. -Interviwer. 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). -Interviewer. 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.