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FBI Finds Stolen Nuke Info May Have Come from Weapons Maker

By Vernon Loeb and Walter Pincus

The FBI has found new evidence suggesting that China may have stolen information about the most advanced U.S. nuclear warhead from one of the weapon’s assemblers, widening an investigation once focused almost exclusively on Los Alamos National Laboratory and one of its staff scientists, Wen Ho Lee.

The evidence emerged after weapons scientists at Los Alamos noted errors in a Chinese intelligence document that sparked the initial FBI and congressional investigations into Los Alamos and Lee. The telltale errors, contained in a description of the miniaturized W-88 warhead, were traced to one of the contractors and defense installations that assemble nuclear weapons, government sources said.

While the new evidence does not completely eliminate Los Alamos or Lee, the sources said, it indicates that the most likely origin of the information is one of the weapons “integrators.” These include Sandia National Laboratories, which puts together prototypes of some warheads; Lockheed Martin Corp., which attach warheads to missiles; and the Navy, which supervises the process.

One source said the analysis “widened the circle and gave convincing evidence” backing up the contention, long voiced by scientists at Los Alamos and officials at the Department of Energy, that China could have obtained classified information about the W-88 and other U.S. nuclear warheads from any of dozens of facilities.

A Lockheed Martin spokesman said Thursday the company “is cooperating with the government in its investigation and is not under investigation nor implicated in any wrongdoing.”

Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh told Congress in September that they were starting their investigation into Chinese espionage over again and assigning scores of additional agents to broaden the probe.