US Nuclear Materials Missing At Home And Overseas
In prepared testimony before Congress the Government Accountability Office (GAO) outlined severe lapses in security of US nuclear materials.
The testimony, which was given to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee, gave an overview of a GAO investigation that found many instances of unsecured and unaccounted for US nuclear materials both inside the United States and overseas.
According to their investigation the United States has a severe lack of accountability for their own weapons grade nuclear stockpile and does not have a cohesive system to track nuclear materials, in either the United states or in foreign nations.
Missing US Weapons Grade Nuclear Material Overseas
US officials repeatedly warn about the dangers foreign nations, such as Iran and North Korea, proliferating nuclear materials to terrorists who could then use it to launch a dirty bomb attack.
The GAO report seriously calls into question whether or not that rhetoric is merely propaganda given that the United States apparently doesn’t care about the proliferation of its own nuclear material.
While pointing out major security lapses inside the US, such as nuclear material being stored in buildings with large unsecured openings on their roofs, the report reveals the United says cannot account for weapons grade nuclear materials that has gone overseas.
That lack of accountability exists despite the Atomic Energy Act requiring multiple government agencies to track the location of U.S. weapon-usable nuclear materials overseas.
The GAO reports that those agencies simply have not abided the requirements of the act and instead have simply chose not to track the location of the materials.
To clarify, they are unable to verify the location of 1,160 kilograms out of 17,500 kilograms of U.S. enriched uranium has sent overseas since January 1993.
That follows a 1992 congressional mandate issued after the NRC and DOE could not fully account for the location and disposition of U.S. enriched uranium overseas at that time.
To point out the gravity of the situation, that is enough weapons grade nuclear material to wipe hundreds of major cities around the globe completely off the map.
Since the 1992 mandate was issued, not only have federal government agencies chose not to abide by the laws, there also has been no attempt by congress to follow through with enforcing the mandate or have their been any attempts to update it.
Instead, federal government agencies in charge of tracking the US nuclear stockpile have responded to GAO’s suggested guidelines to remedy these problems by saying that implementing the guidelines “would adversely impact U.S. commercial competitiveness in overseas markets and diminish U.S. influence to advance our nonproliferation objectives and cost jobs at home.”
Secure Security Lapses Of Nuclear Material Inside The US
The report then goes on to detail numerous instances where nuclear materials are vulnerable to falling into the hands of terrorists within inside the United States.
Many lapses in security were found at medical facilities that store radiological materials even after a security order was issued in 2005 to order the materials be secured.
The report reviews that 22 million curies of radiological material were found to be at “high risk”, including up to 10,000 curies of Cobalt and up to 27,000 curies of Cesium.
Among the most notable of those cases was GAO auditors finding cesium stored on a wheeled pallet in an unsecured hospital basement open to the public within close proximity to an external loading dock.
In another case auditor found cesium being stored at a blood bank inside a room secured by a combination lock which had the combination written on the door frame.
One hospital could not even provide a list of people who had access to the nuclear material because the audit database only allowed 500 names to be entered and that number was exceeded.
The GAO also found many instances of lack of oversight of NRC security inspectors and detailed several instances were auditors admitting that they were not even knowledgeable enough to even understand the regulations they were tasked with enforcing.
Severe Potential Hazards
As a matter of personal speculation, such security lapses are an awfully convenient excuse for the US government if it is ever discovered they violated the nuclear non-proliferation agreement, let’s say by giving nuclear weapons to Israel.
To fully qualify that statement, it is widely reported by the corporate media quoting unnamed US officials that Israel has between 250 and 300 nuclear warheads although there is no official acknowledgement by the US government or Israel that they have nuclear weapons.
Further speculation leads one to consider the possibility of a false flag nuclear terrorist attack, either inside the US or elsewhere.
The lack of accountability of US uranium overseas also provides anecdotal evidence to support the claims of conspiracy theorists who charge the US government for using depleted uranium in Middle East wars which some say is responsible for the Gulf War Syndrome.
More Information On Dangers
For more a more detailed synopsis of the GAO report, please see this article on Enformable, which put this story on my radar.
For those who have the time and wish to look through the entire report themselves it is embedded below.