Nuclear Security: DOE Must Address Significant Issues to Meet the Requirements of the New Design Basis Threat Page: 4 of 20

remaining issues that need to be resolved in order for DOE to fully defend
against the threat contained in the new DBT.2
To carry out our objectives, we reviewed draft DBTs, the final May 2003
DBT, and DOE policy and planning documents, including orders,
implementation guidance, and reports. We met with officials from DOE
and NNSA headquarters and field offices. We obtained information
primarily from DOE's Office of Security, Office of Independent Oversight
and Performance Assurance, and Office of Environmental Management;
NNSA's Office of Defense Nuclear Security; and NNSA's Nuclear
Safeguards and Security Program. We visited all three of NNSA's three
design laboratories and its two production plants that possess Category I
special nuclear material, as well as NNSA's Office of Secure
Transportation. We also visited the four EM sites that, at the time,
contained Category I special nuclear materials. At each site we met with
both federal and contractor officials and reviewed pertinent supporting
documentation. We also discussed postulated terrorist threats to nuclear
weapon facilities with two Department of Defense (DOD) organizations:
the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control,
Communications, and Intelligence; and the Defense Intelligence Agency.
We also reviewed The Postulated Threat to U.S. Nuclear Weapon
Facilities and Other Selected Strategic Facilities, henceforth referred to
as the Postulated Threat, which is the intelligence community's January
2003 official assessment of potential terrorist threats to nuclear weapon
We performed our work from December 2001 through May 2004 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
In summary, we found that while DOE has taken some important actions
in its response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, DOE
struggled to develop its new DBT. The DBT that DOE ultimately
developed, however, is substantially more demanding than the previous
one. Because the new DBT is more demanding and because DOE wants to
implement new protective strategies within 2 years, DOE must press
forward with additional actions to ensure that it is fully prepared to


2We testified on these issues before the Subcommittee on National Security, Emerging
Threats, and International Relations, House Committee on Government Reform, on June
24, 2003. See U.S. General Accounting Office, Nuclear Security: DOE's Response to the
September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks, GAO-03-898TC (Washington, D.C.: June 24, 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.. ( accessed May 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.

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