Where Is the Football?

ANYTIME PRESIDENT BUSH OR RUSSIAN PRESIDENT BORIS Yeltsin travels, an aide tags along carrying the briefcase of electronic controls that Americans call the nuclear football -- the ignition key, in effect, for nuclear war. The former Soviet Union has three operational sets of such devices: Yeltsin has one, which can be used only in conjunction with another set controlled by Defense Minister Yevgeni Shaposhnikov. A third system is usually held by the Defense Ministry and can replace either of the other two. But after last year's aborted coup, Western intelligence lost sight of the third football, and officials were forced to...

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