Nu­clear in­spec­tion re­sults con­cealed

Ba­sic out­come of ex­ams had been avail­able

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Robert Burns

WASH­ING­TON» The Pen­tagon has thrown a cloak of se­crecy over as­sess­ments of the safety and se­cu­rity of its nu­clear weapons oper­a­tions, a part of the mil­i­tary with a his­tory of pe­ri­odic in­spec­tion fail­ures and bouts of low morale.

Over­all re­sults of rou­tine in­spec­tions at nu­clear weapons bases, such as a “pass-fail” grade, pre­vi­ously had been pub­licly avail­able.

They are now off-lim­its. The change goes be­yond the stan­dard prac­tice of with­hold­ing de­tailed in­for­ma­tion on the in­spec­tions.

The stated rea­son for the change is to pre­vent ad­ver­saries from learn­ing too much about U.S. nu­clear weapons vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties. Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the added layer of se­crecy was deemed nec­es­sary.

“We are com­fort­able with the se­crecy,” Hicks said Mon­day, adding that it helps en­sure that “as long as nu­clear weapons ex­ist, the U.S. will main­tain a safe, se­cure, and ef­fec­tive nu­clear stock­pile.”

Crit­ics ques­tion the lock­down of in­for­ma­tion.

“The whole thing smells bad,” said Steven After­good, a gov­ern­ment se­crecy ex­pert with the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Sci­en­tists. “They’re act­ing like they have some­thing to hide, and it’s not na­tional se­cu­rity se­crets.”

“I think the new pol­icy fails to dis­tin­guish be­tween pro­tect­ing valid se­crets and shield­ing in­com­pe­tence,” he added. “Clearly, nu­clear weapons tech­nol­ogy se­crets should be pro­tected. But neg­li­gence or mis­con­duct in han­dling nu­clear weapons should not be in­su­lated from pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity.”

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