Nuclear Security: DOE Must Address Significant Issues to Meet the Requirements of the New Design Basis Threat Page: 3 of 20
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Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
I am pleased to be here today to discuss our work on physical security at
the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security
Administration (NNSA)-a separately organized agency within DOE.
DOE has long recognized that a successful terrorist attack on a site
containing nuclear weapons or the material used in nuclear weapons-
called special nuclear material-could have devastating consequences for
the site and its surrounding communities. Because terrorist attacks against
sites that contain special nuclear material could have such devastating
consequences, DOE's effective management of the safeguards and security
program, which includes developing safeguards and security policies, is
essential to preventing an unacceptable, adverse impact on national
security.' For many years, DOE has employed risk-based security
practices. To manage potential risks, DOE has developed a design basis
threat (DBT), a classified document that identifies the potential size and
capabilities of terrorist forces. DOE's DBT is based on an intelligence
community assessment known as the Postulated Threat. DOE requires the
contractors operating its sites to provide sufficient protective forces and
equipment to defend against the threat contained in the DBT. The DBT in
effect on September 11, 2001, had been DOE policy since June 1999. DOE
replaced the 1999 DBT in May 2003 to better reflect the current and
projected terrorist threats that resulted from the September 11, 2001,
Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, we reviewed physical
security at DOE sites that have facilities with Category I special nuclear
material. Category I special nuclear material includes specified quantities
of plutonium and highly enriched uranium in forms of assembled nuclear
weapons and test devices, major nuclear components, and other high-
grade materials such as solutions and oxides. Specifically, we examined,
among other things, (1) the reasons DOE needed almost 2 years to develop
a new DBT; (2) the higher threat contained in the new DBT; and (3) the
1See U.S. General Accounting Office, Nuclear Security: NNSA Needs to Better Manage Its
Safeguards and Security Program, GAO-03-471 (Washington, D.C.: May 30, 2003).
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United States. General Accounting Office. Nuclear Security: DOE Must Address Significant Issues to Meet the Requirements of the New Design Basis Threat, text, May 11, 2004; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc293919/m1/3/: accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.