Russian customs have registered no attempts to smuggle plutonium suitable for the production of nuclear weapons, according to Nikolay Kravehenko, head of one of the directorates of the State Custom Committee. Laura Holgate of the US DoE supported Kravehenko, saying Washington had “no evidence of weapons-grade plutonium being taken out of Russia in quantities sufficient for producing a bomb”.
US data suggest Russia currently has a 140-200 t surplus of weapons grade plutonium.
There is concern that Moscow does not have enough money to set up a comprehensive security system for its fissile materials. The US is providing financial and technical assistance to maintain security at facilities where radioactive materials are stored. Some border checkpoints, sea ports and airports now have special detection devices. So far about 30% of the checkpoints on Russia’s 20 000 km border have been equiped, focusing particularly on the border with Kazakhstan and on the Black Sea coast. The State Customs Committee says it will take eight years to equip all the customs posts.