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Inventory controls for some classified components in US nuclear weapons program faulted

Inventory controls for some classified components in US nuclear weapons program faulted

Security officials for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile sometimes had difficulty locating classified nuclear and non-nuclear components at two of three sites recently inspected by government auditors.
Both sites "could not readily account for or locate some of the items included in our inventory sample," the office of the Energy Department's inspector general, Gregory Friedman, said in a summary report on classified weapons parts.
The full report was not made public because it contains classified information. It did not include inspections of parts that contain "special nuclear materials" such as plutonium or highly enriched uranium.
The one-page summary dated July 31 does not say, and Energy Department officials would not disclose Friday, when the inspections were done.
Officials in the Energy Department's National Nuclear Security Administration, which runs the weapons program, disagreed with the report's findings and characterized it as a dispute over paperwork.
The agency maintains the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile at eight sites and also operates research laboratories and a nuclear weapons assembly plant.
President George W. Bush has ordered a reduction in the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile to between 1,700 and 2,200 by 2012, down from about 6,000 operational warheads in 2001.
NNSA spokesman John Broehm said the disagreement is over the level of paperwork required for tracking parts that fall into two different security categories.
Broehm said the agency's "accountability controls are more than enough when protecting `nonwar reserve' parts" because they are used "only for routine testing, research and development."
He characterized the inspector general's report as saying those parts should carry the same paperwork burden as "war reserve" parts for use in working weapons.
Some parts, such as the nuclear triggers for setting off explosions, always are considered "war reserve" parts, even in testing.
"It would have been more helpful to us if the IG report would have looked at our controls for `war reserve' and `nonwar reserve' parts separately, instead of applying the same standards for everything," Broehm said.
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On the Net:
http://www.ig.energy.gov/index.htm


Updated : 2021-09-22 02:42 GMT+08:00