~e; the grand (nuclear) tour
Wed, 12 Dec 2001 19:41:53 -0600
[a period piece in a complex puzzle of cultural relations, no comment on
the ethnographic aspects of this article. instead, its relationship to plans
for the US to build more nuclear plants in its current energy policy, and
that these, during times of crisis, were reportedly vulnerable to attack,
and had missile batteries, i believe it was, and armed patrols of national
guard or others, and maybe even helicopters flying around so to defend
against possible attackers. think there was also a covert raid reported
in the news where a plant on the east coast had its security breached,
without letting the powerplant operators in on the homeland defense test,
which sounds like it failed. and also, nuclear plants, like the soon to be
Olympics, have no-fly-zones. it's hoped this rule existed prior to 9-11.]
courtesy of WorldNetDaily.com. To view the entire article, visit
Wednesday, December 12, 2001
U.N. sponsors Arab tours
of U.S. nuclear reactors
By Paul Sperry
© 2001 WorldNetDaily.com (fair-use, ~e.org)
WASHINGTON -- To help fight nuclear terrorism, Energy Secretary
Spencer Abraham last month pledged $1.2 million in additional funds
to a United Nations agency that sponsors foreign nationals --
including some from Arab terrorist states -- to tour U.S. nuclear
The tours are part of a little-known federal course that trains
foreign nationals in security techniques used at U.S. nuclear sites.
Security experts from Sandia National Laboratory, one of the Energy
Department's three nuclear-weapons research labs, teach the two-week
course every other spring.
Despite the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the course will be offered
again this spring, a lab spokesman told WorldNetDaily.
"Plans remain in place for the International Training Course to be
offered April 28 through May 16," said Rod Geer of Sandia.
Under a nuclear nonproliferation law signed by President Carter,
Energy is obligated to share physical-protection technology with the
133 member states of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency,
which is headed by Mohamed el-Baradei and based in Vienna, Austria.
Six of IAEA's members -- Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Cuba and Sudan --
show up on the State Department's terrorist blacklist. Afghanistan
also is a member.
Since 1978, Albuquerque, N.M.-based Sandia has presented the course
14 times to more than 400 participants from 57 countries, Geer says.
Islamic countries represented include Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and
Indonesia, says Sandia's Basil Steele, a course instructor.
"We have everybody coming here," he said, with the last group passing
through in May 2000.
The international security classes, which used to run three weeks,
are held at the Marriott Hotel in Albuquerque. They cover sensors,
cameras, entry and access controls, response-force communications and
other methods to protect nuclear facilities and materials from
sabotage or theft.
After classes, participants are taken on "field trips" to some of the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission's facilities, Steele says.
"They go out to an NRC site to tour it, to see security there, and
understand how they practice security," he said.
Steele would not name the nuclear-reactor sites they visit, other
than to say they're west of New Mexico.
Palo Verde nuclear-power plant in Arizona is the closest to New
Mexico. It's one of 86 nuclear sites protected by a no-fly zone
recently ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration in the wake
of the hijackings.
A spokeswoman in IAEA's New York office acknowledges the risk of
sharing security techniques with potential Arab terrorists, who may
be using the U.N. invitation only to scout U.S. nuclear facilities
for weak areas to penetrate.
But she says the agency weighs that against the benefit of helping
foreign nationals safeguard nuclear materials in their countries from
terrorists (even though some of the countries themselves sponsor and
She says IAEA does not blackball any member from participating, and
provides rosters of participants to Energy.
"We encourage our member states who host such meetings to allow entry
for all nationalities," she asserted.
Steele says Energy does not vet the rosters for suspected terrorists.
"It's up to IAEA to screen their participants," he said.
The IAEA spokeswoman demurred that the State Department is the final
check, since it grants visas to those on its roster.
Steele says that, to the best of his knowledge, federal authorities
haven't scrubbed the roster of 400-plus foreign nationals who have
participated in the course over the past 23 years, for matches to
terrorist watch lists. Authorities recently audited another Energy
training program, started by the Clinton administration, that teaches
Yemenites, among other Arabs, security techniques at Kirtland Air
Force Base in Albuquerque.
Former Energy security officials say they repeatedly expressed their
reservations about letting "rogue-state types," as one put it,
inspect security systems at U.S. nuclear sites under the IAEA program.
"We objected on a number of occasions to the kinds of things they
were training these guys," said a former senior Energy official, who
says his warnings fell on deaf ears at Energy's headquarters during
the Clinton administration.
He says the course materials overlap with a lot of the security
procedures in place at Sandia and other nuclear labs.
"The labs pulled heavily from the procedures in the books that they
prepared for the course. So when you went through that course, you
pretty well knew what was going on with security at the labs," he
said. "I mean, you could see the procedures and overlays."
He said a supplement to the basic course includes "identifying
weaknesses and vulnerabilities" in commercial security systems.
"We raised some issues about training some of these foreign
nationals, particularly ones from the Middle East," the official
said. "They were teaching them to black out systems, which they could
use against us at the labs."
Steele says Washington OKs all materials used by Sandia, which is run
by Lockheed-Martin Corp. Its subsidiary, Sandia Corp., runs security
at the lab.
"We scrub materials with DOE," he said. "We say, 'This is what we
want to teach the international world. Is everything cool?' And they
say, yes or no."
Paul Sperry is Washington bureau chief for WorldNetDaily. (fair-use, ~e.org)
electromagnetism / infrastructure / civilization