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Nuclear Security &
Background on Security Failures
at DOE Nuclear Weapons
- The Department of Energy (DOE) stores and transports weapons-grade
plutonium and highly-enriched uranium nationwide. DOE possesses enough
material to make as many as 100,000 nuclear weapons.
- DOE hires private entities such as Wackenhut Corporation and University of
California to protect nuclear weapons facilities. Since 1992, the number of
protective forces has decreased by 40%.
- DOE conducts mock terrorist attacks to test security, often employing U.S.
military forces to take on the role of terrorists. DOE identifies three
terrorist threat scenarios to physical security:
- Theft of weapons-grade nuclear materials;
- Radiological sabotage by a suicidal terrorist most likely by a truck
bomb or conventional explosives inside a facility dispersing tons of
plutonium and highly-enriched uranium into the atmosphere; and
- Creation and explosion of a home madenuclear device.
- Even though notified in advance when and where tests will occur,
protective forces fail tests more than 50% of the time.
- DOE managers have dumbed-down tests to make a passing grade, preventing
attackers from using such commercially-available items as armor-piercing
bullets and grenades. Navy SEALs refused to participate in exercises any
longer because the tests were so unrealistic.
- The following examples of security failures, by necessity, are not recent
which allows them to be discussed in an unclassified forum:
- In a 1998 test at the Rocky Flats nuclear production facility, Navy
SEALs successfully stole enough material to make multiple nuclear weapons.
- In an October 2000 test at a Los Alamos facility, the terrorists had
enough time to construct and detonate a nuclear device.
- Several key solutions could improve security problems at DOE:
- Under the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, close unneeded
facilities and consolidate weapons-grade nuclear materials into fewer, more
easily-defended underground locations;
- Immobilize excess nuclear materials so that they can no longer be used
- Take security oversight out of DOE so that an independent and more
rigorous analysis can take place;
- Improve the effectiveness of DOEs protective forces by increasing the
size of the force and upgrading outdated training, weaponry, and security
- In the short term, assign military units with SWAT capability to guard
special nuclear materials inventories.
Click on the link to view a copy of POGOs recently released report, U.S.
Nuclear Weapons Complex: Security At Risk.
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to remedy systemic abuses of power, mismanagement, and subservience by the
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