Nuclear Security: DOE Must Address Significant Issues to Meet the Requirements of the New Design Basis Threat Page: 8 of 20
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* Denial of task. For nuclear weapons or nuclear test devices that terrorists
might seek to steal, DOE requires the prevention and/or neutralization of
the adversaries before they can complete a specific task, such as stealing
* Containment with recapture. Where the theft of nuclear material (instead
of a nuclear weapon) is the likely terrorist objective, DOE requires that
adversaries not be allowed to escape the facility and that DOE protective
forces recapture the material as soon as possible. This objective requires
the use of specially trained and well-equipped special response teams.
The effectiveness of the protective system is formally and regularly
examined through vulnerability assessments. A vulnerability assessment is
a systematic evaluation process in which qualitative and quantitative
techniques are applied to detect vulnerabilities and arrive at effective
protection of specific assets, such as special nuclear material. To conduct
such assessments, DOE uses, among other things, subject matter experts,
such as U.S. Special Forces; computer modeling to simulate attacks; and
force-on-force performance testing, in which the site's protective forces
undergo simulated attacks by a group of mock terrorists.
The results of these assessments are documented at each site in a
classified document known as the Site Safeguards and Security Plan. In
addition to identifying known vulnerabilities, risks, and protection
strategies for the site, the Site Safeguards and Security Plan formally
acknowledges how much risk the contractor and DOE are willing to
accept. Specifically, for more than a decade, DOE has employed a risk
management approach that seeks to direct resources to its most critical
assets-in this case Category I special nuclear material-and mitigate the
risks to these assets to an acceptable level. Levels of risk-high, medium,
and low-are assigned classified numerical values and are derived from a
mathematical equation that compares a terrorist group's capabilities with
the overall effectiveness of the crucial elements of the site's protective
forces and systems.
Historically, DOE has striven to keep its most critical assets at a low risk
level and may insist on immediate compensatory measures should a
significant vulnerability develop that increases risk above the low risk
level. Compensatory measures could include such things as deploying
additional protective forces or curtailing operations until the asset can be
better protected. In response to a September 2000 DOE Inspector
General's report recommending that DOE establish a policy on what
actions are required once high or moderate risk is identified, in September
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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/m1/8/: accessed May 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.