I have talked in the past about how the United States lost some of their nuclear weapons and such, but the old Soviet Union seemed to have lost incredible amounts of nukes. While some of them might only be lost on paper through accounting errors, there are so many missing that it is frightening. If one were missing that would be bad enough and that fact could cause a massive investigation, but it seems that the amount of missing nuclear weapons is somewhere in the neighborhood of at least a minimum of 250 to a maximum of unknown proportions. All the chaos of the breakdown of the old Soviet Union and the nuclear weapons transfers back to Russia have caused a huge accounting problem. It would not have been that hard for someone with a few connections to score himself a nuke. As a matter of fact, one of the Soviet Union's high ranking defectors told U.S. officials that a wealthy Russian businessman had bragged to him that he was able to purchase a nuclear bomb and that he was keeping it in his home. Wow, if that is true this guy must be a psycho. I wonder if he invites his company to go down to the basement to see his hydrogen bomb?
Nuclear Suitcase Bomb
One of the most famous and legendary of the old Soviet nuclear weapons were the suitcase bombs. They only weighed about 50 to 60 pounds and were said to be water proof. Scientists claimed that they could last for many years and were perfect for sabotage. The idea was to smuggle them into a country and connect them to that country's electrical system where they could be set off using a signal at any time. They were said to have a backup battery in case the electric failed and if the battery got low the bomb sent out a signal by satellite, so that someone could replace the battery. There is a discrepancy on the weight of the suitcase bombs and some say they weighed twice as much as stated. The United States also has small nuclear weapons. The number of missing Soviet Era suitcase bombs varies from a low of 50 to a high of 132. To get an idea of the power of a suitcase bomb, the U.S. manufactured a nuclear bomb small enough to fit in a suitcase and it was capable of a 6 kiloton nuclear explosion. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima was 16 kilotons. Russia today is still producing nuclear weapons in the form of the Topol-M missile or SS-27
When we talk about the breakup of the Soviet Union, we have to realize that not all nukes were on Soviet soil, they were spread out in parts of the Soviet Union that became independent countries and were also in satellite countries controlled by the Soviets. The Ukraine wisely decided that it didn't want nukes on its soil and sent all the Soviet nuclear weapons back to Russia. There was a problem with this however. It seems that 250 nuclear weapons were unaccounted for. Knowing what a mess the Russians were in at the time, it is hard to say if some or all of these nukes were just paper errors or they were actually taken, or lost. If we believe that story of the businessman that stated he has a nuke, then we would have to believe that it is possible that there are many nukes out there that are not in government hands and that at least some of them would be for sale. The larger ones would need a delivery system, so they probably pose no threat except for the fact that they do contain plutonium that could be used to make smaller nuclear bombs. The suitcase type bombs pose a huge threat as do the smaller nuclear devices.
Lost Soviet era nuclear weapons were not just lost on land. Take the case of Soviet and Russian nuclear submarines that sank. Some say that the Kursk had over 50 nuclear warheads on board and now they lay at the bottom of the ocean. The fact that nuclear weapons were on board the sub was denied, just as we might have denied it if our nuclear sub had sunk, for security reasons. It has been estimated that there are at least 50 nuclear warheads lost at sea not counting the ones that were or were not on the Kursk. Is it possible now, or will it be possible in the future, for someone or some country to retrieve some of these nuclear weapons? It is probably too expensive and most of them are generally considered to lay too deep to be retrieved, but not all. The next question has to be, can they explode? No one likes to talk about this, but the general feeling is that they won't, but there is always a slight chance. A report came out that a lost U.S. hydrogen bomb may be laying on the ocean bottom off the coast of Greenland, which angered Denmark. The submarine Kursk sank in only 354 feet of water. No evidence has ever been found that there were any nuclear missiles on the submarine.
When we talk about losing nukes through accidents, many people believe that the Soviets have lost 44 nuclear weapons in the sea, not counting other losses. It is also said that if you add the number of nukes the U.S. has lost at sea, the number increases to 51. This does not count the nuclear reactors that were lost because they were powering ships or subs that sank. On top of all this, the Soviets deliberately dumped 18 nuclear reactors at sea and we dumped at least 1. We do not know how many incidents have occurred with Russian nuclear weapons, but if we take the fact that they lost at least 5 times the amount of nukes we did and our navy had over 380 known nuclear incidents, they must have had at least 1,900. Of course this is an arbitrary figure and could be much lower or much higher, or even right on the button. If this is true we have to consider the fact that there are other countries out there with nukes and they must have also had problems and incidents with their nukes.
Oscar Class Submarine, Same Type As Kursk
In 1968 a Soviet submarine sunk carrying 3 SS-N-5 nuclear missiles and possibly a couple of nuclear torpedoes During the same year the K-8 Soviet nuclear submarine sank 300 miles off the Spanish coast. It carried a couple of nuclear torpedoes. In 1977 the K-171, a Soviet nuclear ballistic missile submarine, lost a nuclear warhead near Kamchatka in the Pacific Ocean, but it was said to have been recovered. The K-219 Soviet nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine sank 600 miles off the coast of Bermuda. It carried 16 SS-N-6 nuclear missiles with 2 warheads each and 2 nuclear torpedoes It was estimated that the total amount of nuclear warheads on the sub came to 34. In 1989 the K-278 Komsomolets, a Soviet nuclear submarine sank off the coast of Norway. It carried 2 nuclear torpedoes In 1991 a missile misfired aboard a Soviet submarine and almost sunk it. In 1993 a Russian Delta II nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine and a U.S. nuclear submarine collided, both made it back to base. Both were presumed to be carrying nuclear weapons. A Soviet barge that contained nuclear material sank in 1978. We may never know what other non naval nuclear accidents the Soviet Union experienced, but you can bet there were some.
While they are not weapons, the Soviet Union and Russia experienced a loss of many nuclear reactors, including those aboard satellites that plunged back to earth and if found they might contribute to the technology of manufacturing weapons grade materials. Our planet has become littered with lost nuclear weapons and reactors and one can only hope that these losses will not continue.