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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Military Thwarted 2 Nuclear Break-Ins

Authorities have thwarted two attempts to break into Russian military nuclear facilities since the Soviet collapse, the head of the Defense Ministry department in charge of nuclear weapons said Wednesday.

There have been no terrorist attacks on the facilities but civilians twice tried unsuccessfully to gain illegal access, Colonel General Igor Valynkin, chief of the ministry's 12th Main Department, told a news conference.

The attempts to penetrate military nuclear installations occurred in 2002 and 2003, both in the European part of Russia, Valynkin said.

In both cases, the attempts involved one intruder.

The attempts "were averted by our mobile units and security at the facilities," he said, asserting facilities are reliably protected from penetration by intruders and potential terrorist attacks.

However, Valynkin acknowledged that "there are problems with nuclear security" and said it was being improved with help from U.S. and other foreign funding, including for the installation of security systems that eliminate the need for human guards.

"The human factor plays a role everywhere," he said. "If you place a guard at an installation, he is doubtless a protector, but he also can be an individual who either violates or aids in the violation or penetration of the facility."

He said Russia was using U.S. and German funding, as well as its own money, "to strengthen our facilities with security systems. This enables us to take away the guard and fully control it through technical means of protection."

Valynkin said that the main source of a potential terrorist threat to Russian nuclear weapons facilities was "of course Chechen terrorist groups," which have warned that they will target Russian facilities of all kinds.