Russia Rejects Claims of Unsecured Nukes

The Foreign Ministry insisted Friday that Russia's nuclear arsenal was secure, angrily rejecting U.S. allegations that tens of thousands of aging Soviet weapons might not be fully accounted for.

The ministry described U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' remarks on uncertainties about the old Soviet arsenal as being groundless "insinuations."

The ministry stressed that all nuclear weapons in Russia have been under reliable protection since the 1991 Soviet collapse -- despite the nation's economic turmoil.

"Despite all the difficulties our country faced in the beginning of the 1990s, standards of security and physical protection of Russian nuclear arsenals remained high," the ministry said in a statement. "There have been no 'leaks' of nuclear weapons."

The angry statement reflected a chill in Russian-U.S. ties badly strained over U.S. missile defense plans, Russia's August war in Georgia and other issues.

Gates spoke earlier this week at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, expressing worries that some Russian nuclear weapons from the old Soviet arsenal may not be fully accounted for.