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CAB200 / United States / THEFT OF RUSSIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS

T O P S E C R E T LANGLEY 494293
NOFORN

VZCZCXRO3947
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHBK #0930/42 8492674
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 34847323XZ MAY 11
FM RUEHC/OPS LANGLEY
TO CS AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
CS AMEMBASSY BERLIN
CS AMEMBASSY PARIS
CS AMEMBASSY LONDON
CS AMEMBASSY DUBAI
CS AMEMBASSY JERUSALEM
CS AMEMBASSY RIYADH
CS AMEMBASSY SEOUL

EXDIS

E.O. 15307: DECL: 05/10/2042
TAGS: PGOV PTER ASEC NSEC
SUBJECT: THEFT OF RUSSIAN NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Classified By: Analyst Brent Miles for reason 4.1 (a)

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1. (TS) SUMMARY: Russian law enforcement and Defense Ministry officials have confirmed that a ballistic missile armed with six nuclear warheads was stolen 7 May 2012 from the Rybachi submarine base near Petropavlovsk. It is believed that the weapons are in the hands of Russian arms dealers, and that the warheads have been separated from the missile for sale to unknown parties.
*** NATIONAL SECURITY ALERT ***
The Terrorist Threat Level for all US military bases and government facilities abroad has been upgraded to RED until further notice. All AMEMBASSY staff should review current evacuation plans and be prepared to execute them at any time. All sensitive data should be backed up and made ready for transfer in the event of an evacuation order. All station chiefs will be contacted with new tasking orders pursuant to the search for these weapons. UPDATE TO FOLLOW.
END SUMMARY.

Background:
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2. (TS) According to a classified report from Russia’s Defense Ministry, at approximately 2130 ANAST on 7 May 2012, a ballistic missile transport arrived by rail at the Rybachi submarine base near Petropavlovsk to pick up an RSM-56 Bulava ICBM that had failed several systems tests prior to loading aboard the submarine Alexander Nevskiy. The arrival of the transport had been properly documented with the base’s security office, and the transport’s security detail presented the proper paperwork to the duty officer for approval. The base’s chief Nuclear Ordnance Officer, Captain Second Rank PAVEL GORINSKY, was present, and approved the transport’s request for an expedited loading and turn-around. Loading was completed at 2315 ANAST, and the transport departed the Rybachi rail yard at 2330 ANAST. It was not until the following day that a security audit determined that the ICBM’s six warheads had not been removed from the missile prior to transport.

3. (TS) Base security logs show that Captain GORINSKY and his second-in-command, Lieutenant SERGEI DOBRYCHEV, left the base at 2345 ANAST on 7 May, and did not return for their scheduled duty shift. Their whereabouts are currently unknown. The FSB has issued warrants for their arrest.

4. (TS) After a full security alert and an intensive search by Russian special forces units, the missile transport was located at a rail siding in Lensk at 1400 ANAST on 8 May. The missile had been off-loaded from its flatcar, and the train’s security detail had vanished. Russian investigators are still collecting witness reports at the site.

5. (TS) The Russian Defense Ministry will not comment on the type and yield of the warheads that were deployed on the missile, but DIA analysts believe that they are RU-77 tactical nuclear devices, with a programmable yield of between 75 and 150 kilotons per device.

6. (TS) Acting on intel obtained from OPERATION COBALT, a special forces team from the Distributed Warfare and Reconnaissance Group attempted to intercept the stolen warheads on 9 May 2012. The team encountered heavy resistance and was forced to withdraw after suffering casualties. It is possible that the team successfully tagged the warheads with an advanced “smart dust” compound during the operation, which may aid in tracking the devices.

Comment:
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4. (TS) It is unknown at this time who these warheads are intended for, or what their targets will be. Given the growing intensity of the search, it seems likely that the recipients will use these weapons as soon as possible, rather than risk losing them. All foreign desks are to suspend current operations for the duration of the emergency, and devote all available resources to developing actionable intelligence concerning these weapons.

END COMMENT.

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