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Formerly restricted data

Definition Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) is a category of classified information in the U.S military operations. It refers to data that has been removed from the Restricted Data category, which pertains to nuclear weapons and their production. However, even as “Formerly Restricted Data”, the information still requires a level of clearance to access due to […]


Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) is a category of classified information in the U.S military operations. It refers to data that has been removed from the Restricted Data category, which pertains to nuclear weapons and their production. However, even as “Formerly Restricted Data”, the information still requires a level of clearance to access due to its relevance to national security.

Key Takeaways

  1. ‘Formerly Restricted Data’ (FRD) is a category of classified information that primarily pertains to nuclear weaponry, military nuclear reactors, and military nuclear programs. This term refers to data that was once classified, but has been declassified yet still requires restricted handling.
  2. The term is governed by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 in the United States, this legislation focuses on ensuring the security and appropriate usage of nuclear material, particularly in a military context.
  3. Despite its declassification, FRD is still controlled and maintained to prevent unauthorized dissemination. Its handling is often at the similar security levels to Confidential Restricted Data and Confidential National Security Information.


The term “Formerly Restricted Data” (FRD) in military operations is important mainly because it pertains to the classification of data or information related to nuclear weaponry and military nuclear technology.

The information under this category was previously classified as Restricted Data (RD), however, it has been redefined to keep a clear distinction from data that pertains more directly to the construction of nuclear weapons.

Maintaining an understanding and control over the dissemination of such sensitive information is crucial, not only for national security but also for international stability.

Under the Atomic Energy Act, such information is strictly regulated and improper handling can result in legal penalties, showcasing the significant importance of the term.


The term “Formerly Restricted Data” (FRD) in military operations denotes specific categories of classified information concerning the design, manufacture, or use of atomic weapons; production of special nuclear material; or the use of special nuclear material in the production of energy. The primary purpose of this classification was to control the dissemination of such critical information which, in the wrong hands, could pose serious threats to national security.

Also, it provides a legislative structure that allows particular nuclear-related information to be shared for specific purposes, such as international cooperative agreements, without losing control over its overall management. The practical application of “Formerly Restricted Data” is vast and indispensable in maintaining a balance between necessary transparency and the safeguarding of national security.

The classification allows certain entities such as military strategists, nuclear scientists, policy developers and authorized international allies access to specific information that is crucial for planning, research and development while ensuring it stays out of reach of those who might misuse it. Therefore, such information management practices enable the effective operation of nuclear programs, military tactics, national and international policies, and agreements.

Examples of Formerly restricted data

Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) is a classification of information related to nuclear weapons and programs. This is sensitive information that is removed from the Restricted Data category when it pertains to military utilization. Here are three examples:

Operation Ivy: This operation, conducted by the U.S. in the Pacific Proving Grounds in 1952, was the first full-scale test of a thermonuclear device (“hydrogen bomb”). Information about this operation, such as the weapons’ designs and the strategic motivations behind their deployment, probably became FRD after they were declassified for appropriate personnel.

Operation Rolling Thunder: This was a U.S. operational strategy during the Vietnam War that involved sustained aerial bombing campaign against North Vietnam. Specific information regarding the deployment, operation, and results of nuclear-related missions or tactics would fall into the FRD classification.

Development of nuclear submarines: Over the years, the activities pertaining to the development, construction, and operation of nuclear submarines by the U.S. Navy would also create material that, once declassified, could become FRD. Technical characteristics of the submarine’s propulsion system or strategic use of such submarines in military operations is an example.

FAQs: Formerly Restricted Data

What is Formerly Restricted Data (FRD)?

Formerly Restricted Data refers to a classification of declassified information related to nuclear weapons and strategic military operations. This data was initially classified and restricted due to national security reasons but has been declassified and made public over time.

What type of information does Formerly Restricted Data include?

Formerly Restricted Data includes fields like nuclear weapons design, manufacturing, use, and strategic military deployment. It also includes information about nuclear weapons tests and related scientific data that has been declassified.

Who declassifies Formerly Restricted Data?

The process of declassifying Formerly Restricted Data is typically handled by government agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Defense (DOD) in the United States. These agencies have the authority to classify and declassify information in the interest of national security.

How is Formerly Restricted Data utilized?

Formerly Restricted Data provides valuable historical, technical, and strategic insight for governmental policy making, military planning, and scientific research. It also contributes significantly to public knowledge and understanding of the nation’s military operations and nuclear programs.

Is it legal to publish and distribute Formerly Restricted Data?

Publishing and distributing Formerly Restricted Data is usually legal because the data has been declassified by the responsible government agencies. However, details pertaining to ongoing operations or undisclosed locations may still be classified. Therefore, proper clearance and adherence to the disclosure laws are vital before releasing any formerly restricted information.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Declassification Authority
  • Non-Public Information
  • Confidentiality Agreement
  • Release Restrictions
  • Sensitive Information Management

Sources for More Information

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