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Russia Table of Contents


Nuclear Security

Neither civilian nor military nuclear facilities have adequate security. Thefts of nuclear materials from Russia gained international attention in 1993 and 1994. In 1995 the FSB reported investigations of thirty such incidents. Such thefts assumedly were intended to supply smuggling operations into Iran and Germany, among other destinations. Although the Russian government took nominal steps to improve nuclear security early in 1995, the minister of internal affairs reported that 80 percent of nuclear enterprises lacked checkpoints. Western experts pointed to the potential for organized criminals to obtain weapons-grade nuclear materials, and in 1996 new reports described lax security at nuclear installations.


Security police reported that between 1991 and 1993 the incidence of terrorist bombings rose from fifty to 350. The methods used by organized criminals in Russia caused experts to include Russia as a likely location in their identification of a new wave of world terrorism in the 1990s. Besides organized crime, a second factor potentially contributing to terrorism is the extreme instability of economic and social conditions: high unemployment and job insecurity, friction among ethnic groups and between urban populations and job-seeking migrants into their cities, and a general decline in the standard of living. The vulnerability of Russia's isolated transport and pipeline systems and the proximity of hazardous-materials centers to cities further increase the prospect of terrorist activities. In 1995 terrorist acts and two major instances of hostage taking by Chechen separatists promoted fears that vulnerable citizens and locations in other parts of Russia might be targeted by separatist groups. In December 1995, an international conference on terrorism in Ottawa categorized the Budennovsk hostage incident of June 1995--in which Chechen guerrillas captured more than 1,000 hostages 120 kilometers inside Russian territory--with the Oklahoma City bombing and Middle Eastern terrorist acts as examples of flagrant international terrorism.

Data as of July 1996