A U.S. Energy Department investigator has lashed nuclear-arms offices for failing to keep a detailed paper trail of how they build and care for each bomb.
The National Nuclear Security Administration has not consistently tracked each of the thousands of nuclear weapons under its charge with a comprehensive file of “drawings, specifications, engineering authorizations, manufacturing records” and other documents from its assembly and maintenance, says a new report by the Energy Department’s inspector general.
The missing data exposes the U.S. nuclear arsenal to an array of unnecessary costs and risks, Gregory Friedman said his team had found.
In one case, officials incorrectly approved two components to be added to a variant of the W-76 nuclear warhead. The error, they said, cost between $20 million and $25 million, and held up preparation of new parts by an extra 12 months.
The United States never “treated the maintenance of original nuclear weapons [records] as a priority” during or after the Cold War, according to the March 26 assessment. The auditors argued, though, that “recapturing the department’s original nuclear weapons data in a configurable format can potentially save tens of millions of dollars.”
The report also warns that lax controls on the nation’s nuclear-arms records left an opening for possible saboteurs to tamper with arms designs.
In a possible violation of Energy Department rules, Los Alamos National Laboratory granted about 30 design personnel access to sensitive design information, “regardless of whether they were assigned to a nuclear-weapon project,” auditors wrote.
According to the New Mexico facility’s administrators, restricting the information further would not help security, and “they believed that their internal processes were more efficient.”
Energy Department officials agreed with the investigators’ calls for record-keeping updates.
“Upgrade requirements continue to be identified and an acquisition strategy will be determined in [fiscal year] 2015,” the report states.
- 1 Only the Margin Seems in Doubt in the Presidential Race
- 2 Great Democratic Hopes Energize Quiet Faithful in Missouri
- 3 The Late-Breaking Democratic House Targets
- 4 Smart Ideas: Ken Bone Revealed a Serious Policy Divide, and Elizabeth Warren Seeks a Co-Presidency
- 5 Comparing the 2016 House Map to 2008
What We're Following See More »
The protest over the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline turned violent overnight as the police and National Guard sought to remove the protesters, surrounding them with assault vehicles and officers in riot gear. The law enforcement officers used pepper spray and fired bean bags for more than six hours. In response, the protesters "lit debris on fire and threw Molotov cocktails in retreat." One woman pulled out a gun and fired at officers, narrowly missing before being arrested. The protesters claim the pipeline would be constructed on land belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
The House has scheduled leadership votes for Nov. 15, the day after members return from their election recess. "Since mid-September, members of the House Freedom Caucus have weighed whether they should ask leadership to push back the elections so they can see how House Speaker Paul Ryan performs at the end of the year," but leaders don't seem inclined to grant their request.
Gross domestic product "expanded at a 2.9% annual clip from July through September. That’s a marked improvement from the first half of the year when the U.S. grew just barely over 1%." The robust numbers make it more likely that the Federal Reserve hikes interest rates at its next meeting.
"A federal jury on Thursday found Ammon Bundy, his brother Ryan Bundy and five co-defendants not guilty of conspiring to prevent federal employees from doing their jobs through intimidation, threat or force during the 41-day occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The Bundy brothers and occupiers Jeff Banta and David Fry also were found not guilty of having guns in a federal facility." In a strange "coda" to the decision, Bundy's attorney Marcus Mumford was tackled and tasered by marshals in the courtroom as he argued that Bundy should be free to go.
Hillary Clinton is eyeing Vice President Joe Biden to be her secretary of state, and her campaign is trying to figure out the best way to broach the idea with Biden. Biden has a lifetime of foreign policy experience, serving as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; he can also put eight years as vice president on his foreign policy resume. Biden has previously stated that he would not work in a Clinton administration, so it might be a tough sell for the Clinton camp.