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In a report that went unnoticed by many media outlets preoccupied with frenzied coverage of the 9/11 anniversary, the U.S. Government Accountability Office last week published its findings from an investigation into the security of U.S. nuclear material overseas.
According to the GAO, U.S. agencies such as the Department of Energy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the State Department, and also officials in countries that had received nuclear materials from the U.S., could only verify the location of 1,160 kilograms out of 17,500 kilograms of Highly-Enriched Uranium exported off U.S. soil. In other words, 97 per cent of all such weapon-usable HEU and plutonium remained off-radar to U.S. authorities.
In fact of the 55 visits made from 1994 through 2010, U.S. teams found that countries met international security guidelines approximately 50 per cent of the time, the GAO cautioned.
It would appear that the Obama administration has refused to address these concerns, instead opting to disregard the GAO's findings.
There would appear to be more to the controversy than meets the eye, for why would President Barack Obama, who convened the Nuclear Security Summit last year precisely to bolster the security of HEU and other fissile material abroad, thus adopt the exact opposite position when it came to the GAO's study?
While time may tell in this case, time may also be the one thing that the Obama administration does not have on this critical matter of global nuclear security.