WASHINGTON (AP) â€” Computer-held nuclear secrets stored in a vault at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have disappeared, prompting a top-level investigation, laboratory and Energy Department officials disclosed Monday.
Officials learned of the missing secrets and other sensitive material on June 1 and have not ruled out the possibility that the missing data are related to the forest fire that threatened the lab and forced its evacuation last month.
``This is an extremely serious matter, and we are taking swift actions to deal with it,'' said John Browne, director of the federal weapons research lab in New Mexico. The laboratory was embroiled in an espionage controversy involving a former lab scientists for much of last year.
The scientist, Wen Ho Lee, was arrested in December for misuse of secret nuclear data and awaits trial. Although under investigation for three years in connection with the alleged loss of U.S. nuclear secrets to China, Lee has not been charged with espionage.
Ed Curran, director of the Energy Department's counterintelligence office, said there is no indication espionage is involved in the latest disappearance.
``At this point there is no evidence that suggests espionage is involved in this incident,'' said Curran.