from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy
Volume 2005, Issue No. 22
March 10, 2005


The government of Sudan is seeking clarification of reports that the United States carried out a nuclear explosive test in Sudan in 1962.

Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Uthman Isma'il told Al Jazirah television yesterday that his country was responding to the disclosure of the Sudan nuclear test at a congressional hearing held by the House Armed Services Committee last week.

But there was no such test.

A review of the transcript of the March 2 House Armed Services Strategic Services Subcommittee hearing does indeed include a startling reference by Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA) to a 1962 "Sudan" nuclear test.

"The Sudan test displaced 12 million tons of earth and dug a crater 320 feet deep in over 1000 feet in diameter," she noted.

It is clear from the context that she was referring to a well-known July 6, 1962 explosion at the Nevada Test Site codenamed "Sedan." The remarkable crater it left behind can be visited today by tourists.

The term "Sedan" was mistakenly transcribed as "Sudan" both by Federal News Service and by FDCH Political Transcripts and has been so recorded in the Nexis news data base, where it continues to cause mischief.

Sudanese Agriculture Minister Majzoub el-Khalifa suggested Wednesday that the purported U.S. nuclear test may have caused cancers in Sudan, according to a Xinhua news story today.

See "US Envoy Summoned Over House Remarks on US Nuclear Tests in Sudan," Al Jazirah, March 9 (translated by CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service), and an excerpt from Rep. Tauscher's remarks, March 2, here:


If open sources can easily mislead, as in the Sedan/Sudan case, at least they can be easily corrected. In any case, they remain a uniquely productive resource.

So, for example, much of what is known about Iran's nuclear program, where clandestine human sources are said to be sparse at best, derives from the focused collection of open source material.

Two recent photo collections compiled by the CIA's Foreign Broadcast Information Service illustrate the point (thanks to J).

The Qatran Heavy Water Facility in Khondab near Arak is featured in this October 2004 report (2.3 MB PowerPoint file):

The Uranium Conversion Facility near Isfahan is profiled in this November 2004 document (8.7 MB PowerPoint file):


The Department of Health and Human Services updated its information security policies in a December 2004 policy issuance.

The 64 page document is prominently marked "for official use only."

On the other hand, it states candidly on the title page, "Disclosure is not expected to cause serious harm to HHS."

See "Information Security Program Policy," Department of Health and Human Services, December 15, 2004 (thanks to RT):


The Congressional Research Service policy of refusing to provide direct public access to CRS publications is mandated by Congress and is defended most vigorously by Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), chairman of the House Committee on House Administration.

Rep. Ney recently reiterated for Newhouse News his view that the CRS mission "is to provide information to Congress and not the public" and that "making all reports public could inhibit lawmakers who want to learn more about sensitive topics."

See the interesting report "Demand for Public Information is Surging" by Chuck McCutcheon, Newhouse News Service, March 8:

While there is a place for confidential reports prepared for individual lawmakers, the blanket CRS policy precluding direct public access makes no sense and invites defiance.

Some recent CRS products that might inhibit Rep. Ney include the following.

"FY2006 Appropriations for State and Local Homeland Security," February 14, 2005:

"The Cost of Operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Enhanced Security," updated February 9, 2005:

"The Broader Middle East and North Africa Initiative: An Overview," February 15, 2005:

"Iraq: U.S. Regime Change Efforts and Post-War Governance," updated January 28, 2005:

"Implications of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations upon the Regulation of Consular Identification Cards," updated January 26, 2005:

"Honduras: Political and Economic Situation and U.S. Relations," updated January 19, 2005:

"Iran's Nuclear Program: Recent Developments," updated January 14, 2005:


Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

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