Oops! Government Puts Sensitive Nuke Data Online

Note to nuclear experts: the Internet is not a good place to store sensitive documents that detail the U.S.’s nuclear secrets.

Seems like a no-brainer, but the federal government unwittingly published a 266-report that was marked “highly confidential” and contained detailed information about hundreds of America’s civilian nuclear sites including maps that showed precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons.

The report was taken off of the Government Printing Office Web site after The New York Times began investigating the error.

The report was supposed to go to the International Atomic Energy Agency for review and was supposed to remain confidential. The Times investigation did not produce a solid reason for the error.

Gary Somerset, a spokesman for the printing office, told the paper that it had “produced” the document “under normal operating procedures” but had now removed it from its Web site pending further review.

The erroneous release of the documents, which were considered confidential and not classified, will likely be more on an embarrassment than a national security concern, some experts told The Times.

“These screw-ups happen,” said John M. Deutch, a former director of central intelligence and deputy secretary of defense who is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s going further than I would have gone but doesn’t look like a serious breach.”

Other experts disagree.

Information that shows where nuclear fuels are stored “can provide thieves or terrorists inside information that can help them seize the material, which is why that kind of data is not given out,” said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security.


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