Hazel O'Leary Does Us a Favor by Declassifying Data

Article excerpt

Former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger recently testified that he strongly supports transferring responsibility for nuclear weapons research, development, testing, dismantlement and cleanup from the Department of Energy (DOE) to the Department of Defense because of his "very considerable concern" over the "unilateral and wholesale declassifying of vital nuclear information by the current secretary" ("GOP senators resist bid to unplug Energy," Nation, Sept. 5).

For the record, since December 1993, Energy Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary, with the cooperation and approval of the Defense Department (which by law maintains joint responsibility for the classification and declassification of much of the data concerning the nuclear arsenal) has selectively declassified the following "vital nuclear information":

* The total annual megatonnage from 1945 to 1994.

* The total annual number of nuclear weapons in the arsenal from 1949 to 1961.

* The total number of nuclear weapons retired annually from 1948 to 1989 and the annual disassembly rate from 1980 to April 1994 - 47,810 total retirements and 18,113 total disassemblies.

* The total number of U.S. nuclear weapons and actual devices detonated - 1,030 and 1,126, respectively.

* The explosive yields of 77 nuclear weapons tests between 1951 and 1986. (Yields for many other tests have been declassified by prior administrations.)

* Four hundred documents concerning nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands between 1946 and 1962.

* The amount of plutonium expended in nuclear weapons tests - 3.4 metric tons.

* Total weapons-grade plutonium, fuel-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU) production (90.6 metric tons, 12.9 metric tons and 994 metric tons, respectively), including production totals for the Savannah River Site in South Carolina (36.1 metric tons) and the Hanford Reservation in Washington state (67.4 metric tons).

* The amount of plutonium acquired from U.S. civilian reactors and foreign countries (principally Great Britain) - 1.7 metric tons and 5.7 metric tons, respectively.

* Total foreign transfers of plutonium (largely under the Atoms for Peace initiative - 0. …