Days after U.S. President Barack Obama declared cyber-security a national security priority in a speech, reports are circulating that potential sensitive information on the country's nuclear facilities leaked out onto the Internet.
The 260-plus page document, which featured maps showing the locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons, was posted on the U.S. Government Printing Office's (GPO) Web site. According to the Associated Press, the U.S. officials said the posting did not include information that compromised national security. The GPO however has since removed the content from its site.
According to Steven Aftergood, senior research analyst for the Federation of American Scientists, the document was a compilation of hundreds of U.S. nuclear sites and activities. The information was to be passed on to the International Atomic Energy Agency - an organization tasked with promoting the peaceful use of nuclear technology - by the United States, and was transmitted to Congress last month by the president, Aftergood blogged June 1.
When it was sent to Congress, President Obama described the document in an accompanying letter as -Highly Confidential Safeguards Sensitive' but that the United States deemed the information "Sensitive but Unclassified."
"But sensitive or not, the draft declaration was promptly published by the Government Printing Office," Aftergood wrote.
Just how dangerous the leak was is the subject of debate. Aftergood, who posted on the document on the Federation of American Scientists Web site, responded on his blog to reader concerns by noting that the locations of the sites are not secret so listing them poses no additional risk.
According to the Associated Press, when questioned about the disclosure at a House hearing, Energy Secretary Steven Chu expressed concern about a uranium storage facility at the department's Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge , Tenn. The facility holds large amounts of highly enriched uranium, and could potentially be used to create a nuclear weapon.
"That's of great concern," Chu said at the hearing , in reference to the Y-12 site. "We will be looking hard and making sure physical security of those sites (at Y-12) is sufficient to prevent eco-terrorists and others getting hold of that material."