Not Able To Track All Nukes
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES May 2, 2007
Russian President Vladimir Putin told President Bush he
could not account for all of Moscow's nuclear weapons
at the same time al Qaeda was seeking to purchase three
Russian nuclear devices on the black market, former CIA
Director George J. Tenet said.
In his new book, Mr. Tenet states that shortly after
the September 11 attacks, Mr. Bush briefed Mr. Putin
about a Pakistani nongovernmental group, Umma
Tameer-e-Nau. The group, whose members included
extremist nuclear scientists, was helping the Taliban
and al Qaeda develop nuclear arms.
The president "asked Putin point blank if Russia could
account for all of its [nuclear] material," he states
in his book, "At the Center of the Storm."
"Choosing his words carefully, the Russian president
said he was confident he could account for everything
-- under his watch," Mr. Tenet stated, noting that the
deliberately ambiguous response tended to confirm
reports of nuclear smuggling shortly after the 1991
collapse of the Soviet Union.
Mr. Tenet said the CIA informed Russian intelligence
about former Soviet nuclear scientists who were working
with al Qaeda.
Russian officials "refused to delve into any matters
related to the security of their nuclear facilities and
nuclear weapons, including reports sourced to Russian
officials concerning possible theft of Russian
'suitcase nukes,' " Mr. Tenet stated.
The comments contradict Russian government claims for
the past 16 years that no nuclear arms were
Lebed, a former Russian national
security adviser, stated in 1997 that Russia could not
account for about 80 portable nuclear weapons, a claim
later denied by Moscow.
Mr. Tenet disclosed the presidential exchange in
explaining detailed intelligence reports from late 2002
to spring 2003 stating that senior al Qaeda leaders
were "negotiating for the purchase of three Russian
The former CIA chief identified the al Qaeda nuclear
procurement group as including No. 2 leader Ayman
al-Zawahri and Abdel al-Aziz al-Masri, who is described
as the "nuclear chief" for the terrorist group.
The disclosures in Mr. Tenet's book are generating
criticism from people who say some meetings and dates
described in the book are inaccurate.
Kenneth deGraffenreid, a former senior intelligence
official, said the book cannot be gauged for accuracy
because the CIA continues to withhold a critical
inspector-general report on the agency's pre-September