U.S. posted its nu­clear sites on Web

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY ELI LAKE AND SARA A. CARTER

The U.S. Gov­ern­ment Print­ing Of­fice (GPO) pub­lished last month a detailed 268-page dossier dis­clos­ing the ad­dresses and spec­i­fi­ca­tions of hun­dreds of U.S. nu­clear-weapons-re­lated fa­cil­i­ties, lab­o­ra­to­ries, re­ac­tors and re­search ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing the lo­ca­tion of fuel for bombs.

The doc­u­ment, which was re­moved from the Web on June 2, is a draft dec­la­ra­tion of fa­cil­i­ties to the In­ter­na­tional Atomic En­ergy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nu­clear watch­dog, re­quired un­der agree­ments that the United States signed in 2004. It is con­sid­ered highly sen­si­tive though tech­ni­cally not classified.

The vice chair­man of the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence, Christo­pher S. Bond, Mis­souri Repub­li­can, said the dis­clo­sure re­vealed “a vir­tual trea­sure map for ter­ror­ists.”

A Pen­tagon of­fi­cial with knowl­edge of the sit­u­a­tion said the Pen­tagon is “clearly con­cerned about the sit­u­a­tion.”

“Any in­for­ma­tion that could be used by po­ten­tial ad­ver­saries to at­tack in­fra­struc­ture in the U.S. is of con­cern to us,” said the of­fi­cial, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause of the sen­si­tive na­ture of the is­sue. “While much of this in­for­ma­tion is avail­able by any num­ber of means, one should be cau­tious when it is placed in the ag­gre­gate, in one source, and that cre­ates se­cu­rity con­cerns.”

Damien LaV­era, a spokesman for the Na­tional Nu­clear Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said the re­port had been re­viewed by the de­part­ments of En­ergy, De­fense and Com­merce and the Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tory Com­mis­sion “to en­sure that no in­for­ma­tion of di­rect na­tional se­cu­rity sig­nif­i­cance would be com­pro­mised.”

“This dec­la­ra­tion is an im­por­tant demon­stra­tion of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sup­port for the IAEA and the nu­clear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion regime,” he said, but added, “We would have pre­ferred it not be re­leased.”

The Na­tional Nu­clear Se­cu­rity Ad­min­is­tra­tion is a divi­sion of the Depart­ment of En­ergy charged with se­cur­ing nu­clear in­fra­struc­ture.

David Al­bright, a for­mer nu­clear in­spec­tor and pres­i­dent of the In­sti­tute for Sci­ence and In­ter­na­tional Se­cu­rity, a Wash­ing­ton think tank, said, “It’s a mis­take, and it should not have been re­leased, es­pe­cially not with ‘safe­guards/con­fi­den­tial’ still writ­ten on it.”

“The prob­lem is there are a few places where it shows rooms in­side of build­ings where fis­sile ma­te­rial is lo­cated,” he said. Al­though ter­ror­ists still would have dif­fi­culty pen­e­trat­ing U.S. se­cu­rity to ac­quire the ma­te­rial, he said, the dis­clo­sure was po­ten­tially a vi­o­la­tion of U.S. law.

“If we had pub­lished it, all hell would break loose.”

The re­port did not in­clude lo­ca­tions of mis­sile si­los, he said.

Mr. Bond said he and his staff were try­ing to fig­ure out how the doc­u­ment ended up be­ing pub­lished.

“Our best un­der­stand­ing is that this was sent to GPO by staffers of the House leader,” he said. “If we are go­ing down this road, if we have a cul­ture now where we go ahead and dis­close ev­ery­thing, es­pe­cially when it comes to na­tional se­cu­rity, that is play­ing fast and loose with the safety of Amer­i­cans.”

Mr. Bond also said that it was pos­si­ble that the se­cu­rity of­fi­cer on the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee was “lax” in not stop­ping the pub­li­ca­tion of the doc­u­ment.

Lynne Weil, a spokes­woman for the House For­eign Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, said, “The com­mit­tee re­viewed the doc­u­ment from the Gov­ern­ment Print­ing Of­fice and nei­ther pub­lished it nor had con­trol over its pub­li­ca­tion by the GPO.”

She said the com­mit­tee would in­ves­ti­gate what hap­pened.

GPO of­fi­cials could not be reached for com­ment June 2 be­cause their of­fice had al­ready closed.

The pages of the doc­u­ment, which are marked “highly con­fi­den­tial, safe­guards sen­si­tive,” ap­peared on the GPO Web site, www.gpo.gov. An ac­com­pa­ny­ing let­ter from Pres­i­dent Obama dated May 5 said the United States “re­gards this in­for­ma­tion as ‘sen­si­tive but un­clas­si­fied.’ ” The doc­u­ment was sent to the House par­lia­men­tar­ian ear­lier this month and was for­warded to the GPO, said three con­gres­sional staffers who spoke on the con­di­tion they not be named be­cause of the na­ture of the is­sue.

Two na­tional se­cu­rity spe­cial­ists said the dis­clo­sure did not pose a na­tional se­cu­rity risk.

Steven After­good, who runs the Project on Gov­ern­ment Se­crecy for the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Sci­en­tists, praised the de­ci­sion to pub­lish the dossier.

“It is sig­nif­i­cant on a few dif­fer­ent lev­els,” said Mr. After­good, who first wrote about the pub­li­ca­tion June 1 on Se­crecy News, his Web site.

“If you set out to com­pile a list of th­ese fa­cil­i­ties, you could do it, none of them are classified, none of them are un­ac­knowl­edged, all of them have a mea­sure of se­cu­rity, no one will be able to walk off the street and pen­e­trate any of th­ese fa­cil­i­ties. Un­til we have in­sur­rec­tion in Amer­i­can cities, this in­forma- tion be­longs in the pub­lic do­main,” Mr. After­good said.

None­the­less, the pub­li­ca­tion of a coun­try’s dec­la­ra­tion of fa­cil­i­ties to the IAEA is un­usual. Por­tions of Iraq’s dec­la­ra­tion un­der Sad­dam Hus­sein leaked to the pub­lic. Oth­er­wise, Mr. After­good said, he was un­aware of any other time that a coun­try’s dis­clo­sure had been re­leased.

The Pen­tagon of­fi­cial said that af­ter the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist at­tacks, U.S. nu­clear in­stal­la­tions beefed up phys­i­cal se­cu­rity, but “we need to be mind­ful of the type of in­for­ma­tion that we make avail­able through the In­ter­net and we don’t want to do any­thing that might high­light po­ten­tial vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties.”

Re­tired Army Spe­cial Op­er­a­tions Maj. Gen. Tim Haake said dis­clos­ing any in­for­ma­tion on the “lo­ca­tion or dis­po­si­tion of our nu­clear ar­se­nals or sup­port­ing in­for­ma­tion be­ing made freely avail­able in one doc­u­ment is a threat on sev­eral lev­els.”

A U.S. ad­ver­sary “like North Korea or even Iran” could use the in­for­ma­tion to plan fu­ture at­tacks, he said.

“At a lower level, it al­lows peo­ple with ne­far­i­ous in­ten­tions to tar­get em­ploy­ees at the fa­cil­i­ties, for in­fil­tra­tion,” Gen. Haake said. “Now that they know where th­ese lo­ca­tions are, they don’t have to break in, they can tar­get things and peo­ple go­ing in and out of any of th­ese fa­cil­i­ties. Some of the larger fa­cil­i­ties have al­ways been known, but it’s the smaller fa­cil­i­ties that we’re con­cerned about and those as­sets that sup­port our nu­clear arse­nal. Just think of [. . . ] how much money will we need to in­vest to en­hance se­cu­rity at th­ese sites that are now so ex­posed in this full doc­u­ment.”

Henry Sokol­ski, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Non-Pro­lif­er­a­tion Pol­icy Ed­u­ca­tion Cen­ter, a Wash­ing­ton think tank, said most of the in­for­ma­tion dis­closed in the doc­u­ment was re­lated to Depart­ment of En­ergy pro­grams touted in the past as de­vel­op­ing meth­ods to make it harder to di­vert nu­clear ma­te­rial for weapons.

“It is a bit ironic that no­body wanted this in­for­ma­tion to be made pub­lic,” Mr. Sokol­ski said. “Most of the listed pro­grams are ad­vanced nu­clear fuel cy­cle and re­ac­tor ini­tia­tives that the Depart­ment of En­ergy sold to the [Capi­tol] Hill claim­ing they would vastly re­duce the pos­si­bil­ity of ter­ror­ists be­ing able to di­vert nu­clear bomb ma­te­rial from the com­mer­cial nu­clear sec­tor. Ap­par­ently, some peo­ple don’t think they are all that safe. If this is so, it might make sense to shut them down.”

Bar­bara Slavin con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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