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US Makes Nuclear Missile Data Secret Again

AFP | August 22 2006

The administration of US President George W. Bush has begun reclassifying information about the numbers of US strategic weapons during the Cold War, even though it had been once provided to the Soviet Union, The Washington Post reported Monday.

Citing a new report by the National Security Archive, the newspaper said the Pentagon and the Department of Energy are again treating as secret information about Minuteman, Titan II and other missiles, blacking out the information on previously public documents.

"It would be difficult to find more dramatic examples of unjustifiable secrecy than these decisions to classify the numbers of US strategic weapons," the paper quoted William Burr, a senior analyst at the archive as saying.

The Post said the report comes at a time when the Bush administration's penchant for government secrecy has troubled researchers and bred controversy over agency efforts to withhold even seemingly innocuous information.

Major Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, is quoted in the report as saying that "the Department of Defense takes the responsibility of classifying information seriously."

"This includes classifying information at the lowest level possible," Ryder said.

Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, a division of the Energy Department, said his agency focused on scrubbing declassified documents for sensitive US nuclear weapons information that, in the wrong hands, could be used to harm Americans, The Post said.

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