Russia wants nuclear proliferation: mild enough to preserve Russian nuclear dominance, but sufficient to upset the US security. Chinese, Indian, North Korean, and Iranian nuclear weapons are Russian peripheral wars against America. Instead of financing the wars, Russia tacitly approves of proliferators in the Security Council. Cheap and efficient. Russia accepts to have some of its nuclear material stolen in order to keep heat under the US, but resists large-scale pillaging which would establish Russia as failed state unable to control its nuclear arsenal and could even provoke the talks of American intervention.

The news of Georgian police catching a smuggler of weapons-grade uranium are suspicious. The smuggler was caught and sentenced months ago, but no information was leaked to the public. That’s incompatible with very talkative nature of Georgians. Local law does not provide for closed trials, and smuggler would have an attorney who would surely talk. Uranium is usually easy to trace to a particular production facility; Georgians claim they cannot. The embattled Georgians possibly framed the hostile Russia. Nevertheless, Russian nuclear stocks are leaking. Security services of various countries intercepted stolen weapons-grade uranium on occasion. While many labs could enrich small quantities of uranium to over 90%, the black market uranium and plutonium is likely Russian. Most of the intercepted sales involved small quantities, but about 3kgs of uranium were caught in 1994. Hardly all sales were stopped, many certainly went through. It takes only 16kgs of uranium or 5kgs of plutonium to build a high-end 15kt nuclear bomb. Russian, Ukrainian, and Pakistani physicists and mathematicians could design sophisticated bomb for nuclear aspirants. And so Zawahiri’s threat of reprisal far worse than anything the Americans have seen sounds credible.