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N-stockpiles are vulnerable, USA Today says

Security lapses at some federal labs and plants that house nuclear weapons make them vulnerable to theft and sabotage, USA Today reported Wednesday, citing new government reports.

The paper said it obtained a copy of a recent confidential Pentagon review that was among recent reports finding inadequate safeguards at a number of facilities run by the Department of Energy.The report notes that the latest audits expand on a January review. A number of earlier studies have come up with similar findings. USA Today says:

- A draft of the Pentagon review raises "serious concerns over the status of physical security" at DOE facilities.

- An August report by a DOE security task force urged immediate action "to meet the developing crisis in special nuclear materials protection."

- A July international DOE memo noted that "serious issues exist at key facilities possessing hundreds of kilograms of direct use nuclear material."

The paper quoted Joseph Mahaley, head of security at the Energy Department, as saying the agency is strengthening guard forces and replacing security equipment.

"Are we in crisis? No, I don't think we're in crisis," Mahaley told the paper. "If we do nothing, we'll be in crisis. We have to make adjustments and we are."

The paper noted that no known incident of theft or sabotage of nuclear material has occurred.