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Mock Terrorists Reach Nuclear Bomb Material in U.S. Facility Drill

Personnel transfer a plutonium oxide container at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Mock terrorists reached a supply of simulated nuclear-bomb material during an exercise at the facility in January (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration photo). Personnel transfer a plutonium oxide container at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. Mock terrorists reached a supply of simulated nuclear-bomb material during an exercise at the facility in January (U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration photo).

Energy Department personnel pretending to be terrorists reached a substance representing nuclear-weapon fuel after they fought through defenses in a January exercise at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, the Project on Government Oversight reported last week.

Targets in a series of "force-on-force" exercises conducted at the facility included the H-Canyon Complex, which can contain up to several tons of weapon-usable uranium and plutonium, according to unspecified sources cited by the watchdog group.

The DOE Savannah River Office rejected a Freedom of Information Act request by POGO staff for unclassified findings from the drills, arguing that the materials still "contain sensitive security information."

The accountability organization, though, said "the results of these tests are vital to developing new and better ways of securing our nuclear sites."

"POGO has found over time that when the test results are released, the problems get fixed," the group added.

NTI Analysis

  • Give Nuclear Security a Chance

    March 19, 2014

    In a new Project Syndicate op-ed, NTI President Joan Rohlfing calls for leaders at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit to establish a global nuclear security system.

  • Future of Global Nuclear Security Policy Summit

    March 14, 2014

    A full transcript of an event previewing the March 2014 Nuclear Security Summit. Co-hosted by National Journal and NTI, featuree a keynote by Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall of the White House National Security Council and a panel discussion with NTI Co-Chairman Sam Nunn; Norway's Ambassador to the United States, Kåre R. Aas; the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Renée Jones-Bos; Congressman Jeff Fortenberry; former Congresswoman Jane Harman; and Harvard's Will Tobey and Matt Bunn.

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United States

This article provides an overview of the United States’ historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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