"Political and economic upheavals over the past decade have weakened the ability of Soviet successor states to monitor and control their potentially dangerous nuclear assets. A strong theoretical possibility exists, and has existed for some time, that nuclear material and even complete weapons could be removed from insecure stockpiles, trafficked abroad, and sold to virulently anti- Western states and groups. Several factors underscore the significance of this threat. One is the enormous quantity of former Soviet fissile material stored outside of weapons, some 600 to 650 tons scattered among 300 buildings at more than 50 nuclear facilities. A second factor relates to reputedly lax physical security and accounting systems at many nuclear weapons enterprises. A third is the depressed economic situation of employees in parts of the nuclear complex, reflected in relatively low pay, a shrinking social safety net, and uncertain professional prospects. These factors are widely believed to constitute a prime source of proliferation danger on the supply side. A fourth concern, frequently cited by US authorities, is that outside adversaries such as Iraq, Iran, and the al Qaeda organization have made efforts to acquire nuclear weapons or sufficient materials and expertise to make them. There seems little doubt that Russia's vast and troubled nuclear complex has been a target of such attempts, although adversaries also may have looked to other nuclear-armed states (such as Pakistan) to supply their weapons of mass destruction (WMD) requirements. Finally, existing US nuclear security programs have only modestly reduced the nuclear proliferation threat from Russia and other newly independent states (NIS). [...] The extraordinary length of Russia's border with neighboring countries, which runs some 12,000 miles, underscores the immense challenge of preventing clandestine exports of nuclear goods from that country."
U.S. Army War College, Parameters: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/
Parameters: United States Army War College Quarterly (Spring 2003), v.33 no.1, p.95-111