Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Securing China's Nuclear Future

| March 14, 2014

China is a nuclear weapon state and rising power entering an era of particularly rapid nuclear energy growth.  China’s approach to strengthening the security of its nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities plays an important role in facilitating strong global action on nuclear security. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the threat of nuclear terrorism has become one of the most significant challenges to international security. China has worked to meet this challenge, but a continuing effort is needed.  The 2010 and 2012 Nuclear Security Summits raised the issues of nuclear security to a higher political level and enhanced international consensus on the danger of nuclear terrorism. China actively participated in the first two summits, and President Xi Jinping will participate in the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands in March 2014. China’s commitment to nuclear security is now well established.  Former president Hu Jintao emphasized in 2012 that, “the threat of nuclear terrorism cannot be overlooked.” Meeting that threat, as President Hu recognized, “is a long and arduous task.”

The purpose of this report is to provide a better understanding of Chinese perceptions of the threat of nuclear terrorism and attitudes toward the nuclear security challenge; to describe the current status of nuclear security practices in China and of planned improvements in rules and organization, management, and technologies; and to recommend steps for making further improvements. We hope our recommendations for strengthening China’s nuclear security will help China’s policy makers as they consider their options for the future.

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For Academic Citation: Zhang, Hui and Zhang, Tuosheng. “Securing China's Nuclear Future.” Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center, March 14, 2014.