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Los Alamos Nuclear Secrets Found

June 16, 2000

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two computer hard drives containing nuclear secrets from the Los Alamos weapons lab have been located within the confines of the lab’s secure area and are being evaluated, the Energy Department announced Friday.

Energy Secretary Bill Richardson said the two hard drives, which disappeared more than six weeks ago, were ``found within the secure areas of X Division which houses the vault″ where they had previously been kept.

Despite the discovery, Richardson said the investigation into their disappearance continues. He said that while the devices have been found, ``their authenticity″ was still being evaluated.

The computer devices contained an array of information on dismantling nuclear bombs.

It was not clear specifically where within the Los Alamos compound the drives were located. the area ``is being treated as a crime scene by the FBI,″ a department statement said.

The disappearance of the hard drives set off an uproar when it was disclosed Monday. The House Intelligence Committee on Friday called the disappearance ``a major failure″ and a ``potentially devastating compromise ... in national security.″

Richardson said the FBI was evaluating the devices regarding their authenticity and that ``an intensive investigation″ was continuing to find out how they were apparently misplaced.

While some concerns were eased because the devices were discovered within the highly secure confines of the ``X Division″ _ where nuclear designers work _ Richardson said he would ``continue to aggressively pursue″ the matter.

``There will be accountability and disciplinary actions regarding the Los Alamos incident,″ he said in a statement.

The FBI has begun a criminal investigation into the disappearance. Six Los Alamos lab managers have been put on leave with pay.

The devices were last seen on May 7, when the vault in which they were kept was examined. The disappearance was not reported to top lab officials until May 31 and to the Energy Department the next day.

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