- SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) -
A top U.S. nuclear weapons research laboratory that boasts some of the
tightest security on Earth is reviewing security procedures after it lost
a set of keys, the lab said on Wednesday.
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said in a statement
posted on its Internet site that officials learned a set of keys was missing
on April 17.
- The discovery came a week after retired FBI agent William
Cleveland Jr. resigned as the lab's head of counter intelligence. In response
to a question, a lab spokesman said there was no connection between Cleveland's
departure and the keys going missing.
- He left after admitting to a long extramarital affair
with Chinese-American businesswoman Katrina Leung, who has been charged
with taking classified documents from the briefcase of her FBI handler,
James Smith, who was also her lover. She was not charged with espionage
although officials have called her a double agent.
- Officials at the lab, located east of San Francisco in
Livermore, California, said the missing keys would not allow outsiders
access to sensitive areas because they have different types of locks, alarms,
key cards and other security measures.
- "The keys as a stand-alone would not have allowed
undetected access into those buildings containing national security assets
and classified materials," the lab said in its statement.
- "Due to redundant access controls and security safeguards
in place, multiple levels of authorization are required for entry into
buildings containing national security assets."
- The case of the missing keys comes as officials in Washington
and elsewhere have already raised questions about security in the nation's
leading weapons labs.
- In a report last year, Massachusetts Rep. Edward Markey
said lax security at Department of Energy facilities such as the one at
Livermore posed "an unacceptable level of risk that terrorists could
successfully target these sites."
- After realizing that the key were missing, lab officials
replaced the locks, stepped up patrols and vowed it would not happen again.
- "This is an incident I take very seriously,"
lab director Michael Anastasio said. "We are reviewing this aggressively
and making the necessary improvements to our key handling and storage procedures.
- "Due to the redundant security systems in place,
our national security assets were not subject to significant risk. The
information from our internal investigations, as well as the conclusions
we receive from the external review team, will help us ensure this does
not happen again."