Saturday, June 21, 2008

Loose Nukes American Style

More disconcerting news regarding the day to day security of American nuclear weapons, this one from that hotbed of disarmament the Stars and Stripes :

" KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany — An internal Air Force investigation has found that most military bases in Europe that store nuclear bombs do not meet the most basic Defense Department security regulations.

The report reveals some startling deficiencies in nuclear security in Europe in the wake of nuclear safety concerns and a historic Air Force leadership shake-up.

The report stated that each site had "unique security challenges."

"Inconsistencies in personnel, facilities, and equipment provided to the security mission by the host nation were evident as the team traveled from site to site," the study reads. "Examples of areas noted in need of repair at several of the sites include support buildings, fencing, lighting, and security systems."

At some places, the duty of protecting nuclear weapons fell upon foreign conscripts with as little as nine months of military experience, the report said.

The Pentagon released a summary of the report, titled "The Blue Ribbon Review of Nuclear Weapons Policies and Procedures," in February. The study found that the Air Force needed to improve how it safeguards its most lethal weapons and that numerous factors led to a B-52 mistakenly carrying six live nuclear warheads from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., last year.

Problems with nuclear safety at bases in Europe was unknown until Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists obtained a declassified version of the full report and posted it on his blog earlier this week.

"A consistently noted theme throughout the visits," the report states, "was that most sites require significant additional resources to meet DOD security requirements."

Investigators also found that periodic and routine inspections might not have been as effective as they could be because Air Force inspectors had to give prior notice to host nations and NATOs before visiting the sites....
The U.S. military does not reveal the number of nuclear weapons it has at European bases due to security reasons, but the Federation of American Scientists estimates there are between 200 and 350 warheads at bases in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, United Kingdom and Turkey.

Kristensen wrote in his blog that the report shows that nuclear weapons in Europe have been "a security risk" for the past decade.

"But why it took an investigation triggered by the embarrassing Minot incident to discover the security problems in Europe is a puzzle," he wrote.

Air Force leaders launched the internal investigation after the Minot incident involving the B-52 and the live nuclear warhead. Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired the Air Force’s top uniformed and civilian leaders for allowing nuclear safety to slip."

I beleive this is the same country that was going to "show" the Russians how to secure their nuclear weapons.

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