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Decline in focus led to nuclear incident

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By Roger Snodgrass

The Defense Science Board (DSB) finds “a marked decline in the level and intensity of focus on the nuclear enterprise and the nuclear mission,” since 1990 and the end of the Cold War.The board was asked by the Secretary of Defense to provide an independent assessment of events surrounding the unauthorized movement by a B-52 aircraft of live nuclear warheads from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana last year.“The unauthorized weapons movement incident can be a just-in-time rescue if lasting corrective actions are implemented now,” the unclassified report states.Robert Selden, an independent member of the task force that provided 16 recommendations for improving nuclear surety, discussed his role in the report and the larger implications in a telephone interview Monday.Now retired in White Rock, Selden is a former senior manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where his roles included director of the Center for National Security Studies.“I was part of the review group looking not so much at the detail of what happened, but at the root causes and the changes in the policy or process that might be helpful to make sure this thing wouldn’t happen again,” he said.“It was indeed a wake-up call and I suspect this will mean that the procedures and the care that all the people put into it will


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