US Declares Nuclear Sites to the IAEA

A compilation of hundreds of U.S. nuclear sites and activities that were to be declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency by the United States was transmitted to Congress last month by President Obama.

“The enclosed draft declaration lists each site, location, facility, and activity I intend to declare to the IAEA, and provides a detailed description of such sites, locations, facilities, and activities, and the provisions of the U.S.-IAEA Additional Protocol under which they would be declared,” the President wrote. “Each site, location, facility, and activity would be declared in order to meet the obligations of the United States of America with respect to these provisions.”

“The IAEA classification of the enclosed declaration is ‘Highly Confidential Safeguards Sensitive’,” the President noted in his May 5, 2009 transmittal letter, “however, the United States regards this information as ‘Sensitive but Unclassified’.”

But sensitive or not, the draft declaration was promptly published by the Government Printing Office.  See “The List of Sites, Locations, Facilities, and Activities Declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency,” message from the President of the United States, May 6, 2009 (267 pages, 13 MB PDF file).

No Responses to “US Declares Nuclear Sites to the IAEA”

  1. james griffin June 3, 2009 at 1:27 PM #

    Citizens of this once proud country do not have to worry about spies from around the world going to extremes to gather any intelligence concerning our defenses, whether conventional or nuclear. All that is necessary is to monitor our governmental websites and the various news media. “highly sensitive but not classified”? What the hell is this?

  2. Mike June 3, 2009 at 1:42 PM #

    Any plans to do your country a favor and remove this document?

  3. Jan June 3, 2009 at 2:09 PM #

    @mike
    It’s not about doing your “country” a favor, it’s about doing the people a favor.

  4. Don Rinker June 3, 2009 at 3:30 PM #

    What can you possibly hope to gain by showing the world all the sensitive data in one place? It may not be classified but it sure puts those poor workers in those towns and locations at risk. What is wrong with you? Yes. We know. Freedom of the press. Great. Here’s another one – common sense in a world of terrorists. Just because you can post something doesn’t mean you should. Most Americans DO NOT want everyone to know our private business. Thanks. Please remove the document.

  5. Steven Aftergood June 3, 2009 at 3:50 PM #

    Thank you for the expressions of concern. I reviewed the document and did not find any sensitive technological information, or any sensitive security-related information. Therefore I see no reason to remove the document. If you find sensitive technology or security data in the document, notify me by email — saftergood@fas.org — and I will consider it.

  6. ed June 3, 2009 at 4:18 PM #

    Although I have no knowledge of the Administration’s specific policies, this disclosure, if it is done in compliance with a treaty obligation, will establish some credibility for the U.S. when it demands compliance by other nations- whether it is Iran, or some other country, even one that is not a signatory to the IAEA treaty- since it will show that we are serious about nuclear non-proliferation, and will give the whole process some teeth.

  7. Christopher Arterton June 3, 2009 at 4:36 PM #

    I laud your diligence in pointing out the document but question your judgment in posting it once the GPO had taken it down.

  8. spm08588 June 3, 2009 at 5:34 PM #

    there’s no getting the cat back in the bag once it’s out…http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2009/06/internet_to_the_government_no.html

  9. George Smith June 3, 2009 at 5:59 PM #

    What can you possibly hope to gain by showing the world all the sensitive data in one place? It may not be classified but it sure puts those poor workers in those towns and locations at risk. What is wrong with you?

    Absolutely nothing is wrong with Steve. It’s your way of looking at things which could use reexamination. Your statement only has validity if you consider three things to be absolutes: (1) Terrorists are plentiful, always ready to pounce and of unlimited resource and savvy; (2) that US citizens have no right to know where nuclear facilities and research goes on in their country, like — for example — if people near Beulah Road in Pittsburgh, PA, wanted to know Westinghouse was building a facility to test loss of reactor coolant and containment experiments; and (3) much of this wasn’t already in the public domain, like newspaper, for instance.

    It’s not exercising common sense to presume terrorists threaten everyplace in the USA if there are things people deem ‘dangerous’ nearby. Using that timorous illogic, one would wish to erase all information about chemical plants, hazardous waste sites, chemical spills, places where outbreaks of infectious disease had been reported, college science research facilities, mining facilities, the CDC, Fort Detrick, Three Mile Island, Hanford, Pantex … one could go on and on and many have in the years since 9/11. Once one gets started, there’s no end to it.

    Bravo to Steve for reasonably standing his ground.

    Thank you. –SA

  10. Carol Riley June 3, 2009 at 6:03 PM #

    It seems to me that if the GPO took it down, you did a disservice by posting it afterwards. Just because it was to be Presented to IAEA doesn’t mean that they were handing the information over to countries who might not have our best interests in mind. Although I think it was wise and responsible to write an article about the error, as a mother of 3, I’m concerned about the broadcast of sensitive information and I think you were irresponsible to post it.

    Understood, thank you. However, we posted the document on May 31, two days before GPO took it down. Since it does not disclose sensitive technical or security information, we saw no need to do the same. –SA

  11. Nancy Dunham Dickinson June 3, 2009 at 6:05 PM #

    I live within “spitting distance” of two commercial nuclear plants, and easy driving distance to five more. They’re good neighbors, and I feel comfortable with their operation, and breathe better air because of them.

    But now, do I need to start worrying that some idiot from some other country will decide to attempt to breach their security?

    What in the world did you think you were accomplishing by printing this information? But I am more concerned about your releasing ANY information about Y-12 and Hanford. I certainly am appalled at your lak of good judgment.

    Thanks for the comment. But if you weren’t worried before, I don’t think you need to start worrying about foreign attacks on your local nuclear power plants. These are not secret facilities, nor are Y-12 and Hanford, and listing such sites does not increase the associated risk. –SA

  12. Diane June 3, 2009 at 7:09 PM #

    This is exactly the type of ‘mistake’ that makes me feel really uneasy — there have been more inadvertent errors of this nature coming out of the Govt that may be ‘unclassified’ and available elsewhere BUT why are we making it so easy for terrorists, abroad or homegrown?

  13. George Smith June 3, 2009 at 7:26 PM #

    BUT why are we making it so easy for terrorists, abroad or homegrown?

    But who, precisely, has said things are being made easy for terrorists, other than to insist that this must be so in a short statement for political and news media consumption?

    How, for example, does a report which shows, and I’ll quote from the New York Times on this issue:

    An attached map shows the exact location of “Tube Vault 16 along a hallway and its orientation in relation to geographic north, although not its location in the Y-12 complex … Tube vaults are typically cylinders embedded in concrete that prevent the accidental formation of critical masses of highly enriched uranium that could undergo bursts of nuclear fission, known as a criticality incident. According to federal reports, a typical tube vault can hold up to 44 tons of highly enriched uranium in 200 tubes. Motion detectors and television cameras typically monitor each vault.

    …make it easy to get into Tube Vault 16 at Oak Ridge National Lab in Tennessee?

    Keep in mind, it’s already heavily secured and the knowledge that it’s been a storage site for highly enriched uranium has been far from secret.

  14. Tzimtzum June 3, 2009 at 7:59 PM #

    The thing which no one has discussed–at least from what I’ve seen so far–is why a “highly sensitive document” would be published by the GPO in the first place. From an historical perspective, sensitive documents, NOFORN, and others like them, are usually treated with a certain degree of discretionary distribution, printed in house by the agency or activity which authored them, and given some degree of respect. In a government setting–or in a military scenario–the document may not be locked up; however, it certainly would not be laying around in a non-access-controlled area.

    In the Defense Industry sector, documents such as these would be locked up, however, with the classified material; and would not be allowed to be removed from a secure area. Moreover, the document would be identified/serialized by a unique identifier and if copies were made, they, too, would be catalogued and tracked.

    It is amazing that this document was allowed to be put into a scenario whereby it could be placed on the public access internet in the first place. When the document was PDF’d, how did it manage to move from a secure to a non secure area; and assuming that the document was in a secure area, why would they allow a public access internet connection to exist there in the first place (especially when the ability to digitize these documents is in the same area)? Of course, my question assumes that the GPO is under the same rules and safeguards concerning security as the the rest of us.

    Now assuming that they are, then it becomes a possibility that someone in the GPO purposefully put out this document to the public with the full knowledge that it was sensitive. Who? Will we ever know?

    Regardless, one thing I do know is that if the same thing happened in the private sector, the Defense Investigative Service (DIS) would be down on everyone’s neck, the responsible party would be raked over the coals and probably lose his/her clearance and along with it his/her job–even if the whole thing was accidental. If it were determined to be a willful act, the person could be prosecuted (meaning jail and big buck fines).

    Will any of this happen here? I doubt it.

  15. Major Variola (ret) June 3, 2009 at 8:05 PM #

    Excellent work. If you self-censor, “the terrorists have won” ™.

    Sunshine is good.

  16. ascrivner June 3, 2009 at 8:30 PM #

    It does not matter what he does with the document you loons.

    The number of Americans killed by terrorism since the 60′s is lower than the number killed by :
    - lightning
    - deers on the road
    - allergic reaction to peanut
    - bathtub drowning
    (reference : International Herald Tribune http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/10/news/edpfaff.php )
    When do we start a Global War On Bathtubs ?
    (Thanks to http://superfrenchie.com/?p=558).

  17. Ed H June 3, 2009 at 8:40 PM #

    This document is unclassified. It’s already in the hands of anyone/everyone who wants to know. At this point, it doesn’t matter if it is linked to on this website.

    Just like Area 51. *WELL* before the US Government officially acknowledged our secret airbase there, every foreign government that cared already had satellite pictures of it. It really doesn’t matter if Popular Science sends a photographer out to the desert to get a grainy telephoto lens of what looks exactly like every other military airbase.

  18. Tzimtzum June 3, 2009 at 9:44 PM #

    Ed H. writes, “[I]t doesn’t matter if it is linked to on this website.”

    In matters of national security, it is a mute point from a legal perspective that a sensitive or classified document is already in the public view. And I would bet that if the issue were pressed, a government case could be made against Aftergood, even though the document was obtained on a publically accessable website.

    Nonetheless, of even greater concern to me right now is the question of document/physical security at the GPO. The measures in place allowed a scenario to exist which allowed this document to become compromised. And if the system in place is “above suspicion,” then someone purposefully placed the list into public view.

  19. pitt June 4, 2009 at 3:24 AM #

    You make the mistake of assessing the risk from only “top” foreign secret agencies of f.i. China, Pakistan, Iran or North Korea who are able to gather this information through other channels, hence no increased risk.
    But more and more terrorist attacks (London, Madrid, Mumbay, and foiled attacks in Strassbourg, Amsterdam) in the west/india are performed by “local” muslim cells who are “amateurs” and never had the opportunity to gather such information so easily.
    It is THAT threat that has increased.
    Maybe directly by fishing for locations with fuel storages to blow up, OR by finding sensitive locations to apply for a job (cleaner, security) to act as a mole for the future.

    You were short sighted.
    You could have limited the scoop by only telling that there was this opportunity to see this document on internet with perhaps only one or two front pages…

  20. Quest June 4, 2009 at 4:51 AM #

    The question one should ask is, with all of this info available and out in the “open”, why is the US Goverment asking other countries do “dis-arm” their nuclear weapons? What’s the difference between Sadam trying to hide WOMD and the US? Is one more right than the other? You people need to start asking the hard questions.
    Dont’ just accept what you’re told. It’s NEVER that simple.

    And there’s more going on in the world than “Oooo, terorists are going to get us”. Thousands die every day from starvation, aids, even malaria. Stop being so self-absorbed. For all you know, a neighbour could be suffering terribly, and you’re too worried about yourself to even look his way.
    WAKE UP AMERICA!!!

  21. David C. June 4, 2009 at 8:06 AM #

    None of the individual pieces of information are sensitive, but a proper risk assessment by your organization should conclude that “in aggregate” the document is sensitive. Don’t discard the “follow fact that it was removed after determination of a mistake. Can you not conclude you have made a mistake as well? Freedom of information is critical, but so is responsible use of information. I encourage you to publish the information, but is a way that requires some effort to put it into one compilation. IE. Search by zip code. It all can still be available, and would allow “the people” to address their concerns by searching for sites in their area, but the “others” to have to work to get it all out of the system.

  22. Rick June 4, 2009 at 11:01 AM #

    Well, as of 20090604 11:00:00 the document is no longer posted here.

  23. Tomas June 4, 2009 at 11:59 AM #

    Well it’s available on Wikileaks.com
    There to see for everyone.
    Go and check it out.
    it’s free!
    USA is a 3th world country.
    Not able to see further than one year in advance in planning, not capable to build cars, not capable to do anything but steel oil and make war!
    Down you go brotha!
    Bye bye, the end is ny

  24. Hubert Horn / TAUNUS-BLOGGER June 4, 2009 at 12:50 PM #

    I say only COPY / PASTE …
    Good to know… no more secrets ;-)

    Bye..

  25. bighnoraj June 4, 2009 at 1:08 PM #

    dear friends,be cautious henceforth,security and survival of mankind is the need of the hour.

  26. britlin June 4, 2009 at 1:15 PM #

    I find this whole conversation pointless… those in search of this information would have found it in the time span it was available on the GPO. Now that it spread across the internet removing it from the FAS website (1 website out of the entire Internet) will not make it any less difficult to obtain.

  27. Charlie June 4, 2009 at 9:18 PM #

    This information goes to the IAEA as part of good will and our obligations to the Additional Protocol that we helped draft. This document only listed facilities; something that can be found easily on the internet within a matter of minutes anyways. You are ignorant if you’re not aware that this the way things are done in the world. If we expect other countries to do the same and create a safe world, we must allow the inspectorate (i.e., the IAEA) to do its job. That’s why Eisenhower called for its creation in 1957 at the UN. Please do some research before you needlessly crucify the FAS and the government.

  28. Stephen June 4, 2009 at 11:09 PM #

    Scaremongering and ignorance 1, FAS 0.

    As others have pointed out, the information in the document is _not_ classified. In fact, it is explicitly marked “Sensitive But Unclassified,” a post-9/11 creation of the Bush administration that takes otherwise routine information and restricts access to it because it could possibly be useful to someone who wants to do us harm. No secrets here, nothing about nuclear weapons, and anyone thinking otherwise hasn’t been paying attention.

    Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center and Republican, gave the Washington Times (June 3) the perfect reaction to this tempest in a teapot:

    “It is a bit ironic that nobody wanted this information to be made public,” Mr. Sokolski said. “Most of the listed programs are advanced nuclear fuel cycle and reactor initiatives that the Department of Energy sold to the [Capitol] Hill claiming they would vastly reduce the possibility of terrorists being able to divert nuclear bomb material from the commercial nuclear sector. Apparently, some people don’t think they are all that safe. If this is so, it might make sense to shut them down.”

  29. SeedyROM June 5, 2009 at 3:08 PM #

    Thanks for ensuring terrorists will have access to sensitive documents that tell them building design and the location of fission materials. By knowing the location the terrorists can best plan their attack to break in and go directly to the source location. Thanks Steven Aftergood for helping the terrorists get the Hope and Change they desire. Steven Aftergood is a terrorist supporter/extremeist and Steven Aftergood is a weak and pathetic excuse for an American. I bet he’d post nuke trigger designs if the terrorist supporter could get his filthy hands on them!!!!!!!!!

    Posting sensitive but unclassified docs and pretend that its okay. No its not!!!!
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/06/03/AR2009060300028.html?nav=rss_email/components
    Steven Aftergood violated Federal LAW and now that he violated the LAW he must be investigated and considered for prosecution for devulging National Security documents without written permission!!!!!!!!! Arrest the treasonist, investigate his entire pathetic life and prosecute him for weakening national security and for being King of the AssClowns!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Chick Deney June 9, 2009 at 2:26 AM #

    If only the terrorists!!! were interested in good government!!!!! and in tearing down authoritarianism, lemming attitudes and mindless censorship!!!!!! then the world would be a better place!!!!

    What a shame that most of the people who kick butt and break laws are doing it to support authoritarianism and mindlessness. Like all the cowboy tinpot terrorists in the US government. And the commenters!!! deevulging bulging secrets!!!!!

    But Steven, on this issue you suck for making Wikileaks do your work for you. You broke the story, now stick with it.

  31. Mike June 18, 2009 at 10:05 AM #

    So why was the document removed? Maybe because the White House knows that made a mistake in publishing it – and it only took them one day to figure it out. Meanwhile the document remained here for anyone to download.

    The comment by the blog poster that it didn’t contain sensitive data is absurd on its face – as if the locations of all the nuke sites in the U.S. was not sensitive or of extremely high value to any enemy of the U.S.

    This is the kind of blind ambivalence and kum-by-ah attitude that will render future generations of the U.S. impotent and liberty-less. First Amendment doesn’t mention anything about making every/all data public nor available to the world.

  32. Mike June 18, 2009 at 10:06 AM #

    ….A U.S. document containing sensitive details about hundreds of civilian nuclear sites across the country was posted online Monday, an apparently inadvertent security breach that had federal officials scrambling yesterday to remedy the mistake.

    (this was not inadvertent nor a mistake – it was intentional and sites like this validate that…nice try by the Washington news to cover it up)

  33. Wowzer July 24, 2009 at 10:24 PM #

    Wow. I can’t believe the people on this comments list. I deal in my profession with disaster preparedness, and laugh at the hyper-paranoia. One example is that people in agencies and entities across the US are so afraid of things like cyber-terrorism “what-ifs” that are highly improbable of occurring, that there is almost no preparation for the almost certain disasters of heat waves, flu, tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms and so forth. Terrorism is more “sexy.”

    If our lists were easily laid out there for alleged terrorist boogermen that lurk in every shadow, or better yet mailed directly to them, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference. It’s not going to make it easier for them. They are far more likely to get the components and know-how on black market trade. Even though I have little faith in so called security of all our sites, it’s pretty darn tough to transport this stuff.

    The greater danger is that this stuff lies there in our back yards without us even knowing. That is much more of a boogerman than an alleged terrorist. I want to know what I live next door to. I have a right to know. I think one of these guys has an FAS email…..way to go! FAS, Federation of American Scientists is very well-respected. More stuff can be found on their site, FAS. ORg.

    I am so sick of this bogus terrorism argument. Terrorism gets a disproportionately large amount of press coverage to keep you cowering in a corner….it’s so good at controlling your minds.

  34. Scott August 15, 2009 at 11:40 AM #

    I can not believe that this information is still available on this site! In the engineering community FAS has always been a good source of information, but there is limits.