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U.S. to Loosen Classification Status on Some Nuclear-Weapon Data

Some previously classified U.S. nuclear weapon-related information will be made available to the public following a period of assessment on classification standards by the U.S. State, Defense, and Energy departments, according to a February letter by the State Department's head of information programs (see GSN, Dec. 20, 2010).

"Over the past fiscal year, the department has been actively working with the Departments of Energy and of Defense to identify information that had previously been classified under the Atomic Energy Act or various national security executive orders," Foggy Bottom's Sheryl Walter said in the letter to the National Archives and Records Administration, a federal agency charged with cataloging and providing access to public records.

"Several categories of this information, including topics concerning nuclear weapons, weapons testing, improvised nuclear devices, and international cooperation relating to nuclear forensics, will be downgraded, classified for shorter durations, or declassified," reads the letter, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and posted online this week by the Federation of American Scientists.

She did not provide a specific schedule for making the information publicly available.

"As other agencies conduct their own fundamental classification reviews and contact the department for concurrence in downgrading or declassifying certain information, our own guides will reflect these classification changes," the letter says (U.S. State Department report, Feb. 10).


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