Former Soviet spy: Small nuclear devices planted in U.S.
January 28, 2000
From Correspondent Siobhan Darrow
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A hooded, former Soviet spy with tales of threats to U.S. security was the star witness at a congressional hearing this week in California. The one-time military intelligence colonel testified that suitcase-sized nuclear devices are hidden on U.S. soil.
"Soviet general staff designed special plan for the future war against America," witness Stanislav Lunev testified Monday in heavily accented English.
It may sound like Cold War-era fiction, but some U.S. congressmen, hoping to convince people the stories are reality, invited Lunev -- who they claim is the highest-ranking defector from Russian military intelligence -- to a field hearing in Los Angeles.
Lunev said his mission was to scout for "dead drop" sites in the United States that were to be used to store communications devices and weapons, including those of mass destruction. "Dead drop" sites were sites at which one agent could leave an item and another agent could pick it up.
"I had very clear instruction: these dead drop positions need to be found for all types of weapons, including nuclear weapons," said Lunev.
But Lunev offered no hard evidence about where these sites are nor did he say if the nuclear suitcases were actually ever brought here.
The congressman displaying a CIA-created mock-up of the nuclear device also conceded he has no proof.
"We don't know. But what we need to find out is, if they are here, we need to ask the question of the Russian leadership and the question has not been asked," said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Indiana.
Lunev, who is in a witness protection program, recounted details already disclosed in his book, which was published two years ago.
No Democratic congressmen attended the hearing.
"What his committee generally does is just attack Democrats and President Clinton rather than to work to solve problems," Rep. Henry Waxman, D-California, said of Burton's panel.
Yet Burton denied that the hearing was politically motivated.
"Some people of the media have indicated that we might be trying to create paranoia and a new Cold War and all that sort of thing -- that couldn't be further from the truth," said Burton.
Senior U.S. government officials say the FBI can find no evidence supporting Lunev's claims.
But the congressmen seem to be betting that the issue is alarming enough to merit some attention.
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