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Drunk agents in charge of US nuclear weapons

Convoy drivers hired to transport US nuclear weapons have been arrested for being drunk and getting involved in bar brawls, according to a report by the US Energy Department's watchdog.

The department's assistant inspector general, Sandra D. Bruce, said yesterday that her office reviewed 16 alcohol-related incidents involving agents, candidate-agents and others from the government's Office of Secure Transportation between 2007 and 2009.

There are nearly 600 agents who truck nuclear weapons, weapon components and special nuclear material across the US.

The report said that two incidents in particular caused alarm because they happened during "secure transportation missions" while agents checked into local hotels during extended missions, and the vehicles were placed in "safe harbour".

One of those occurred in 2007, when an agent was arrested for being drunk in public; the other happened last year when police handcuffed and detained two agents after an incident at a local bar.

"Alcohol incidents such as these, as infrequent as they may be, indicate a potential vulnerability in OST's critical national security mission," the report warned.

The report recommended that officials consider actions such as a "zero tolerance" policy for alcohol incidents.

Current guidelines call for alcohol testing at least once a year and when reasonable suspicion of alcohol exists, a ban on consuming alcohol within 10 hours before work and sending home agents who have been drinking.

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