The Guardians Of the U.S. Nuclear Arsenal Don't Keep Very Good Records

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

An investigation conducted by the Energy Department has revealed that the National Nuclear Security Administration is failing to keep complete and accurate records on nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile.

The scathing 19-page report, available on the website of Energy Department's Office of Inspector General, warns that the range of problems "may ultimately increase costs and could negatively impact the reliability and safety" of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

As the Global Security Newswire notes:

In one case, officials incorrectly approved two components to be added to a variant of the W-76 nuclear warhead. The error, they said, cost between $20 million and $25 million, and held up preparation of new parts by an extra 12 months.

The United States never "treated the maintenance of original nuclear weapons [records] as a priority" during or after the Cold War…The auditors argued, though, that "recapturing the department's original nuclear weapons data in a configurable format can potentially save tens of millions of dollars."


Even worse—yes, there's a "worse"—the investigation found that lax security at the Los Alamos National Laboratory "had given system access to approximately 30 nuclear weapons designers regardless of whether they were assigned to a nuclear weapon project." Translation: Saboteurs could potentially tamper with existing weapons designs.

Photo: NNSA