Flaw Discovered in LANL's Nuclear Accounting Software

Events Planned to Commemorate Trinity Day

Public Meetings to Discuss Proposed Triassic Park Dump Scheduled

* A serious flaw has been discovered in a computer program donated to Russia's premier nuclear research facility, the Kurchatov Institute, by Los Alamos National Laboratory (or LANL). The program was originally developed to track all bomb-grade nuclear materials held by the U.S. Department of Energy (or DOE). Russian scientists recently found that as the program is used, some files become invisible and inaccessible to nuclear accountants using the system. Any insider who understands the program could exploit this flaw by tracking the missing files and physically diverting the unaccounted nuclear materials for profit.

The program, developed by Microsoft for LANL, has been used for years to account for U.S. nuclear materials. LANL donated the program to the Kurchatov Institute to ease their method of handwritten nuclear accounting. However, the Institute discontinued use of the program after discovering the flaw. By their calculations, nuclear materials the equivalent of many thousands of bombs could go missing if the program were used for only 10 years.

The Kurchatov Institute recently warned LANL about the system flaw. Unfortunately, unlike the Russians who have kept all of their accounting records, DOE has neglected to keep its handwritten records. America's lack of physical accounting means that DOE may have to inspect all of America's nuclear materials, a project that could cost upwards of $1 billion to complete.

Scientists at the Kurchatov Institute were initially suspicious of the glitch, wary that LANL was using the program to undermine the Russian nuclear industry. When they approached LANL about the error, U.S. scientists suggested using a later version of the program. The later version also contains the same flaw, as well as another that allows easy access to the database by unauthorized users.

America spends nearly $1 billion annually to help Russia protect its vast storehouse of nuclear weapons and materials. Bruce Blair, president of the Center for Defense Information, says that the fact that Russia warned the U.S. about the glitch is evidence of the high return on America's investment in Russian security.

* Please join the U.S. Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and Peace Action New Mexico in events to commemorate Trinity Day 2001 at the College of Santa Fe. On Friday, July 13, beginning at 9 AM, the Annual General Meeting of the US Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons will be held. On Saturday, July 14 and Sunday, July 15, Peace Action New Mexico will be hosting "LANL 2001: Action for Abolition," a series of presentations and discussions. On Monday, July 16, a rally and march will be held at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos, beginning at 11 AM. The march to the LANL Administration Building will begin at 1 PM. For more information, please call 989-4812.

* A series of public information meetings discussing the proposed Triassic Park, the first hazardous waste dump in New Mexico, will be held in Santa Fe on Monday, July 16th; in Roswell on the 17th; in Tatum on the 18th; and in Hagerman on the 19th. For more information, please call CCNS.

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