DOE Security:

Information on Foreign Visitors to the Weapons Laboratories

T-RCED-96-260: Published: Sep 26, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 26, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed unclassified visits by foreign nationals to the Department of Energy's (DOE) nuclear weapons laboratories. GAO noted that: (1) the average annual number of foreign visitors to these DOE laboratories has increased 55 percent since 1986; (2) in 1996, the number of foreign visitors may increase to over 6,700; (3) DOE designates some countries as sensitive due to national security, terrorism, regional instability, or nuclear proliferation concerns; (4) the average annual number of foreign visitors from sensitive countries has increased 225 percent since 1993; (5) 93 percent of these visitors came from China, India, Israel, Taiwan, and the states of the former Soviet Union; (6) DOE has changed its visit approval and background check requirements since 1988; (7) DOE has delegated the laboratories authority to approve visits that do not involve high-level foreign visitors, sensitive subjects, or secure areas; and (8) DOE only requires background checks on visitors from sensitive countries who are on assignment or involved in sensitive subjects or secure areas, but it has permitted two laboratories to omit background checks for visitors on assignment.

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