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New Government Watchdog Reports US Lacks Nuclear Proliferation

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Airmen inspect for contaminants during a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear training session Jan. 31, 2018, at Dover Air Force Base, Del.

A new government watchdog report says the U.S. government’s plan for detecting nuclear proliferation is lacking in detail, raising questions about government’s ability to effectively monitor foreign nuclear programs.

The Government Accountability Office’s review of the nuclear proliferation-detection plan found it “generally did not address reporting requirements” required by law.

The 2015 (and the 2017) National Defense Authorization Act mandated the president develop and submit an “interagency plan and road map for verification and monitoring” of nuclear weapons. The plan needed to include a research and development program to improve “in-field inspection” capabilities.

Disputes over verification was central to the debate over the Iran deal and is proving a topic of discussion in negotiations with North Korea.

The report noted that “neither the 2015 plan under the Obama administration nor the 2017 update included a specific engagement plan for improving inspections and monitoring.”

While the Trump administration was given credit for coming up with recommendations and possible action plans, such as intelligence sharing with partners Israel and Japan, the report was critical of the lack of detail elsewhere.

The exact coordination between relevant agencies, resource sharing and technical capability development, such as “rapid analysis of large data sets” for effective monitoring, were absent from the plan, according to the GAO.

The U.S. State Department indicated to the GOA it did not wish to comment on the unclassified version of the report.

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