The current House version of the fiscal 2009 Defense Authorization bill contains a provision that would require the Pentagon to report annually on the threat posed by tactical nuclear weapons.
The $601 billion bill contains language stating that numerous “nonstrategic” nuclear weapons are deployed by various countries and “their prevalence and portability make them attractive targets for theft and for use by terrorist organizations.”
“The United States should identify, track, and monitor these weapons as a matter of national security,” the bill states, noting that a report should assess the r isks of these arms being obtained by rogue states, terrorists and non-state entities.
The measure appears aimed at countering tactical nuclear arms, including so-called “suitcase” nuclear weapons that actually are steamer trunk-sized bombs, developed during the Cold War by both the United States and Soviet Union. According to Russian officials in the 1990s, not all of Moscow’s portable nuclear weapons have been accounted for since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.