[ISN] Test Site guards failed attack drill

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Fri Feb 4 05:43:46 EST 2005


By Mary Manning 
February 03, 2005 

Guards stationed at the Nevada Test Site to protect the nuclear
weapons complex 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas apparently failed a
recent test in which they faced a mock terrorist attack.

Darwin Morgan, spokewman for the National Nuclear Security
Administration, an agency within the Energy Department that runs the
nuclear weapons complex, said Tuesday that unspecified deficiencies
had been identified during the exercise, performed late last year to
test the capability of Test Site guards to protect weapons-grade
plutonium and highly enriched uranium stored at the site.

In a force-on-force exercise, specially trained commandos under the
Energy Department's Office of Independent Oversight and Performance
Assurance staged a mock attack simulating a potential terrorist

Since the exercise at the end of last year, the National Nuclear
Security Administration has "taken corrective actions" at the Test
Site, Morgan said.

The Nevada Test Site has always been a heavily guarded facility
because it has tested nuclear weapons from 1951 until September 1992.  
The government is continuing nuclear-related activities at the site,
conducting subcritical underground nuclear experiments that do not
cause a nuclear chain reaction.

Morgan said the security requirements at the Test Site have been
raised because some special nuclear materials are being transferred
for security reasons from Los Alamos, N.M., where they had been in an
area known as Technical Area 18, to the Test Site.

The special nuclear materials and some equipment from the New Mexico
is to be transferred to the Device Assembly Facility at the Test Site,
Morgan said. The Device Assembly Facility is a buried building guarded
by gun turrets at either end, officials said.

Morgan noted that "we have been growing the guard force."

The Test Site expects to have 240 to 250 guards in place by the time
the nuclear materials from New Mexico arrive, Morgan said.

Exact numbers of guards and details about the Test Site are kept
secret for security reasons, Morgan said.

The Test Site is guarded by forces provided by Wackenhut Services Inc.  
under contract with the Energy Department. The department last year
put the Nevada security contract out for bid along with its prime
operating contract held by Bechtel Nevada.

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