Nuclear Issues

21 Items

Testimony

Public Testimony on Trump Administration Funding for Nuclear Theft Preventing Programs

| Mar. 31, 2020

A nuclear explosion detonated anywhere by a terrorist group would be a global humanitarian, economic, and political catastrophe. The current COVID-19 pandemic reminds us not to ignore prevention of and preparation for low-probability, high-consequence disasters. For nuclear terrorism, while preparation is important, prevention must be the top priority. The most effective strategy for keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of terrorists is to ensure that nuclear materials and facilities around the world have strong and sustainable security. Every president for more than two decades has made strengthening nuclear security around the globe a priority. This includes the Trump administration, whose 2018 Nuclear Posture Review states: “[n]uclear terrorism remains among the most significant threats to the security of the United States, allies, and partners.”

Nigeria's Miniature Neutron Source Reactor was the last operational research reactor in Africa to make the conversion from HEU to LEU. Here, the HEU once used in the reactor is loaded for shipment back to China, the supplier (IAEA).

IAEA

Policy Brief - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Securing Nuclear Weapons and Materials Worldwide: Expanded Funding Needed for a More Ambitious Approach

| Apr. 19, 2019

The Trump administration budget request for programs to reduce the dangers of nuclear theft and terrorism is too small to implement the ambitious approach that is needed. Congress should increase funding in this critical area; direct the administration to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for improving security for nuclear weapons and materials worldwide; and exert expanded oversight of this effort. This brief highlights the importance of ongoing nuclear security work; describes the evolving budget picture; and outlines recommendations for congressional action.

A building at a Pakistani naval aviation base burns during an attack by a substantial group of well-armed, well-trained militants, apparently with insider help, in May 2011. Nuclear weapons and materials must be protected against comparable adversary capabilities and tactics (AP Photo/Shakil Adil).

AP Photo/Shakil Adil

Policy Brief - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Combating Complacency about Nuclear Terrorism

Complacency about the threat of nuclear terrorism—the belief that nuclear and radiological terrorism threats are minimal and existing security measures are sufficient to address them—is the fundamental barrier to strengthening nuclear security. Many factors can lead to complacency, but the most significant contributors are lack of knowledge about: events related to nuclear terrorism; weaknesses of nuclear security systems; and the capabilities demonstrated by thieves around the world. People will be more likely to take action to strengthen nuclear security if they believe that nuclear terrorism poses a real threat to their own country’s interests and their actions can significantly reduce the threat. There have been many incidents in recent years that demonstrate the need for strong and sustainable security at both military and civilian nuclear facilities.

A member of the Czech Army takes part in an anti-terrorism drill at the Temelin nuclear power plant near the town of Tyn nad Vltavou, Czech Republic, April 11, 2017.

REUTERS/David W. Cerny

Policy Brief - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A Vision for Nuclear Security

| January 2019

The goal of global nuclear security efforts should be a world in which all countries with nuclear weapons, highly enriched uranium (HEU), separated plutonium, and nuclear facilities whose sabotage could cause a major radiation release have reduced the risk of nuclear theft and sabotage to the lowest possible level. This will require policymakers, regulators, and operators to commit to a continuous process of striving for excellence in nuclear security performance.

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

Wikimedia Commons

Policy Brief - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Iran Stockpiling Uranium Far Above Current Needs

| January 10, 2017

In a televised speech on January 1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran had imported 200 metric tons of yellowcake uranium and would import another 120 tons at an unspecified future date. The imports are permitted by the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but nonetheless significantly exceed Iran’s needs for natural (that is, unenriched) uranium over the next 15 years. Iran’s import of such high levels of uranium suggests it may be stockpiling uranium to reach nuclear breakout before the deal’s initial limitations expire in 2031.

The JCPOA permits Iran to buy natural uranium to “replenish” its stocks as it sells enriched uranium on the international market. To date, Iran has had difficulties locating a buyer for its enriched uranium stocks – unsurprising, given the current excess of commercially available enriched uranium. This, however, has not stopped Iran from buying and stockpiling more yellowcake.

President Barack Obama of the United States meets with Russian President Vladmir Putin at the G8 Summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland on 17 June 2013.

White House Photo

Policy Brief - Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy, University of Hamburg

U.S.-Russian Nuclear Security Cooperation: Rebuilding Equality, Mutual Benefit, and Respect

| June 2015

The United States and Russia are the two countries with the vast majority of the world's nuclear weapons and material. In an age of global terrorism, they share both a special responsibility in ensuring that they each employ effective nuclear security systems and an understanding of the unique challenge of securing hundreds of tons of nuclear material. For two decades, the United States and Russia lived up to this responsibility by working together to strengthen nuclear security in Russia and around the globe. That ended in 2014 when Russia halted the majority of its work on nuclear security with the United States. The negative consequences of that decision could seriously affect international security and cooperation in the nuclear realm.

Policy Brief - Stanley Foundation

Strengthening International Cooperation on Nuclear Materials Security

| Nov. 04, 2014

The Stanley Foundation convened a group of experts and policymakers from the United States and abroad to address these issues October 15–17, 2014, at its 55th annual Strategy for Peace Conference. The group discussed overcoming challenges to nuclear security cooperation faced by the United States, Russia, and China, and next steps in ensuring that countries put in place effective and sustainable nuclear security measures with strong security cultures. This policy memo offers highlights of the discussion and recommendations of roundtable participants.

Policy Brief - Stanley Foundation

Planning for Success at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit

| December 2013

In the dead of night on July 28, 2012, three senior citizens, including an 82-year-old Catholic nun, Sister Megan Rice, broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, site of the US Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF). This self-proclaimed “Fort Knox of uranium” is America’s central repository for weapons-grade uranium.

....The security failings revealed by the nun and her fellow protesters are legion. The protesters were on the site for over an hour and 20 minutes, trekking about seven-tenths of a mile as the crow flies, but far longer as they traversed a steep ridge. They pierced fences equipped with sophisticated sensors. Yet the Y-12 Protective Force failed to spot them until they enjoyed unimpeded access to the exterior of the HEUMF forabout 20 minutes. Had these individuals been well-armed, well-equipped terrorists, instead of Bible-toting peace protesters, the incident would have been far more dire.