U.S. Department of Energy, Office of the Press Secretary, Washington, DC 20585
At the Secretary of Energy's first Openness Press Conference on December 7, 1993, Secretary O'Leary reemphasized the Department's firm commitment to the President's goal of openness in Government, outlined her Openness Initiative, and, as a signal step in that process, released a wide variety of formerly classified information to the Department's stakeholders. To expedite accessibility of that information, a package of Fact Sheets was provided which summarized the newly released information and provided background sufficient to allow the public to better understand both the significance of the information, and the reasons for its prior classification. Also within that package was information concerning specific steps being taken or planned to expedite release of more information and improve public awareness of and access to newly declassified information and documents. A summary of all progress can be seen in the attached chart.
Further, the Secretary committed to continued public dialogue with the Department's stakeholders and promised additional declassification releases within 6 months. The Secretary hosted many public meetings with stakeholders across the nation to receive suggestions for proposed declassifications. Many of these declassifications are being announced today, but some warrant further study. Some information requires continued classification under law, treaty, and regulation in the interest of nuclear nonproliferation and national security. This package contains Fact Sheets on newly declassified information as well as a summary progress report on the many steps required to meet the openness goals.
These Fact Sheets also seek to provide information to stakeholders about how and why the Department of Energy classifies information. The Department of Energy invites public comment on these matters. For example, the Department of Energy is today releasing a history of information actually declassified over time, actual guides used to identify Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information, and plans to improve public access to declassified information and to make sure the Department of Energy only classifies information having national security significance.
Today's declassifications are possible because of a change in priorities resulting from the current world situation. A comprehensive review was carried out for each and every declassification action. The information was reviewed for its national security significance including concern for nuclear weapons proliferation, terrorism, and foreign policy considerations.
Today, the American public will have information that is important to the current debate over proper management and ultimate disposition of nuclear materials, which is consistent with the recommendations of the National Academy of Sciences' report by the Committee on International Security and Arms Control, "Management and Disposition of Excess Weapons Plutonium." In addition, the release of this information should encourage other nations to declassify similar information.
Declassification can facilitate bilateral inspections between nuclear weapon states at former or current nuclear facilities pursuant to arms control reduction agreements and access by nuclear weapon states' inspectors to facilities pursuant to international safeguards and nonproliferation agreements.
The declassified quantities listed in the attached Fact Sheets are based on the evaluation of available records, some of which are very old. The quantities may be updated in the future after re-evaluation of the methodology originally used.
Most of the newly declassified information expands on information pertaining to subjects and/or specific sites addressed in the Fact Sheets released on December 7, 1993. The focus is on these subjects because they were precisely the areas of greatest immediate priority to the Department's stakeholders. However, all initiatives aimed at accelerated review of the totality of the information classified by the Department and its predecessors continue, and the summary status report attached indicates that progress is being made. The results will continue to support openness including the Department of Energy's policy of improved responsiveness to our stakeholders' needs and better execution of the Department's critical missions.