Nuclear processing facility
Nuclear processing facilityiStock

A government watchdog warned in a new report that the US federal agency responsible for the safety of the nation’s nuclear secrets has for years failed to guard against serious threats, including from spies and fraudsters.

According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigation, the Energy Department has ignored numerous recommendations to create an “insider threat” program to protect information related to the US nuclear program from outside dangers, ignoring a presidential order for over a decade, NBC News reported.

The report found that the Energy Department has passed on recommendations from four independent reviewers who found large holes in the agency’s drive to establish an insider threat program. It added that in 2017, the last year data was available, there were 250 insider threat-related security incidents. These included the sending of classified documents on unclassified systems, secure areas being left unattended, and classified information not being properly guarded.

There were also malicious incidents mentioned in the report. It detailed that a nuclear safety program manager was given an 18-month prison term for taking nearly $500,000 in bribes.

“The theft of nuclear material and the compromise of information could have devastating consequences,” the GAO said in a statement. “Threats can come from external adversaries or from ‘insiders,’ including employees or visitors with trusted access.”

“Such threats could have significant consequences for national security and could include unauthorized release of classified information; workplace violence; or improper access to sensitive nuclear weapons material,” the watchdog added.

A spokesperson for the Energy Department told NBC that the agency had "a highly vetted workforce and maintains programs specifically designed to avoid or minimize insider threats while capitalizing on longstanding protection measures against misuse of critical stockpile assets and resources."

The spokesperson added that the Energy Department appreciated the GAO’s review and had “taken a series of actions to further bolster the Department’s capabilities to effectively deter, detect, and mitigate insider threats throughout the nuclear enterprise."

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shavuot in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)