What Lies Beneath
April 30, 2012
Commentary by: William H. Tobey, Belfer Center senior fellow
Topic: Soviet nuclear test tunnels
“There’s one fear that keeps leaders from across the globe awake at night: The prospect that somehow, somewhere, criminals or terrorists are getting their hands on the essential ingredients of a nuclear weapon. At the nuclear summit in South Korea last month, policymakers gathered to prevent that nightmare from becoming a reality by launching an initiative to secure all vulnerable nuclear stockpiles within four years. But despite the fanfare surrounding the summit, one of the greatest recent successes in this initiative has thus far remained buried — both literally and figuratively.
In an extraordinary feat of engineering and international cooperation, U.S., Russian, and Kazakh scientists, engineers, and miners recently secured enough fissile material for a dozen nuclear weapons that had been left behind vulnerable to theft in tunnels formerly used by the Soviet Union for underground nuclear weapons tests in Kazakhstan.”