The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) published last month a detailed 268-page dossier disclosing the addresses and specifications of hundreds of U.S. nuclear-weapons-related facilities, laboratories, reactors and research activities, including the location of fuel for bombs.
The document, which was removed from the Web on Tuesday, is a draft declaration of facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, required under agreements that the United States signed in 2004. It is considered highly sensitive though technically not classified.
The vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Christopher S. Bond, Missouri Republican, said the disclosure revealed “a virtual treasure map for terrorists.”
A Pentagon official with knowledge of the situation said the Pentagon is “clearly concerned about the situation.”
“Any information that could be used by potential adversaries to attack infrastructure in the U.S. is of concern to us,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue. “While much of this information is available by any number of means, one should be cautious when it is placed in the aggregate, in one source, and that creates security concerns.”
Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said the report had been reviewed by the departments of Energy, Defense and Commerce and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission “to ensure that no information of direct national security significance would be compromised.”
“This declaration is an important demonstration of the administration’s support for the IAEA and the nuclear nonproliferation regime,” he said, but added, “We would have preferred it not be released.”
The National Nuclear Security Administration is a division of the Department of Energy charged with securing nuclear infrastructure.
David Albright, a former nuclear inspector and president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington think tank, said, “It’s a mistake, and it should not have been released, especially not with ‘safeguards/confidential’ still written on it.”
“The problem is there are a few places where it shows rooms inside of buildings where fissile material is located,” he said. Although terrorists still would have difficulty penetrating U.S. security to acquire the material, he said, the disclosure was potentially a violation of U.S. law.
“If we had published it, all hell would break loose.”
The report did not include locations of missile silos, he said.
Mr. Bond said he and his staff were trying to figure out how the document ended up being published.
“Our best understanding is that this was sent to GPO by staffers of the House leader,” he said. “If we are going down this road, if we have a culture now where we go ahead and disclose everything, especially when it comes to national security, that is playing fast and loose with the safety of Americans.”