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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 20, November 1997

US Reacts to Questions over Nuclear Security

On 7 November, the US Energy Department (DOE) announced measures to tighten security at its nuclear weapons facilities - see Documents and Sources for details. At a press conference, Energy Secretary Federico Pena was at pains to point out that the steps were precautionary and that "there is no immediate danger at any of our sites."

The announcement followed reports by the DOE and the General Accounting Office (GAO), featured in the press in late October, raising concerns about some aspects of security, particularly ease of access for, and lack of checks on the status and background of, visitors. According to the GAO report, quoted by the Associated Press on 30 October: "DOE has procedures that require obtaining background checks, but these procedures are not being enforced... [S]ensitive subjects may have been discussed with foreign nationals without DOE's knowledge and approval."

Reports: Report - lax security at nuke labs, Associated Press, 31 October; US tightens security at nuclear arms sites, Reuters, 7 November.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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