Washington, June 3: The Obama administration has accidentally made public a 266-page report that gives detailed information about the country's civilian nuclear sites and programs, including maps showing the precise locations of stockpiles of fuel for nuclear weapons.
The publication of the document marked 'highly confidential' was revealed Monday, Jun 1 in an online newsletter devoted to issues of federal secrecy.
It immediately set off a debate among nuclear experts about what dangers, if any, the disclosures posed.
According to the New York Times, it also prompted a flurry of investigations in Washington into why the document had been made public.
On Tuesday, Jun 2, after inquiries from The New York Times, the document was withdrawn from a Government Printing Office Web site.
Several nuclear experts argued that any dangers from the disclosure were minimal, given that the general outlines of the most sensitive information were already known publicly.
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, a private group in Washington that tracks nuclear proliferation, said information that shows where nuclear fuels are stored "can provide thieves or terrorists inside information that can help them seize the material, which is why that kind of data is not given out."
The information, considered confidential but not classified, was assembled for transmission later this year to the International Atomic Energy Agency as part of a process by which the United States is opening itself up to stricter inspections in hopes that foreign countries, especially Iran and others believed to be clandestinely developing nuclear arms, will do likewise.