Nuclear Issues

7 Items

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Strengthening International Cooperation on Nuclear Materials Security

Nov. 04, 2014

Matthew Bunn, Will Tobey, Hui Zhang, and Nickolas Roth recently participated in a two-day roundtable discussion sponsored by the Stanley Foundation on U.S. nuclear security cooperation with Russia and China. The discussion, which involved experts from around the world, focused on overcoming challenges to nuclear security cooperation and ensuring that countries put in place effective and sustainable nuclear security measures with strong security culture.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Eliminating Potential Bomb Material from Japan’s Fast Critical Assembly

| Mar. 24, 2014

Today, the United States and Japan announced that Japan would eliminate all the plutonium and highly-enriched uranium at its Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) at Tokai-mura.  This is a tremendous step forward for nuclear security; for terrorists, this would be some of the best material that exists in any non-nuclear-weapon state.  The material includes 331 kilograms of plutonium, most of it weapons-grade, and 214.5 kilograms of weapons-grade HEU.  (The FCA also includes over a ton of material just at the 20 percent U-235 mark that defines HEU.)   The weapons-grade HEU is enough for four simple terrorist “gun-type” bombs or a larger number of trickier-to-build implosion bombs.  The plutonium amounts to more than 40 bombs worth of material.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals

In the lead-up to the nuclear security summit, Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals outlines what was accomplished in a four-year effort launched in 2009 to secure nuclear material around the globe—and what remains to be done. The effort made significant progress, but some weapons-usable nuclear materials still remain “dangerously vulnerable." The authors highlight the continuing danger of nuclear and radiological terrorism and call for urgent action.

Armed guards and police protecting a spent fuel convoy while at a stopping point.

Ministry of Public Security (Ch)

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Securing China's Nuclear Future

| March 14, 2014

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. This report provides a better understanding of Chinese perceptions of the threat of nuclear terrorism and attitudes toward the nuclear security challenge; describes the current status of nuclear security practices in China and of planned improvements in rules and organization, management, and technologies; and recommends steps for further improvements.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Is China Complacent About Nuclear Security?

Mar. 13, 2014

Like dozens of other world leaders, Chinese President Xi Jinping is preparing to attend the third Nuclear Security Summit, which will take place in The Hague on March 24 and 25.  China actively participated in the first two summits, and since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, China has indeed made strides in strengthening its system for protecting nuclear facilities.  To make sure that nuclear security systems are actually implemented effectively, however, the development of a strong security culture—in which the relevant individuals hold a deeply rooted belief that insider and outsider threats are credible—is imperative.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Plutonium Mountain: Inside the 17-Year Mission to Secure a Legacy of Soviet Nuclear Testing

| August 15, 2013

The Belfer Center’s Eben Harrell and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David E. Hoffman for the first time report the details of one of the largest nuclear security operations of the post-Cold War years — a  secret 17-year, $150 million operation to secure plutonium in the tunnels of Degelen Mountain.

teaser image

Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

What Happened to the Soviet Superpower’s Nuclear Arsenal? Clues for the Nuclear Security Summit

| March 2012

Twenty years ago Russia and fourteen other newly-independent states emerged from the ruins of the Soviet empire, many as nations for the first time in history. As is typical in the aftermath of the collapse of an empire, this was followed by a period of chaos, confusion, and corruption. As the saying went at the time, “everything is for sale.” At that same moment, as the Soviet state imploded, 35,000 nuclear weapons remained at thousands of sites across a vast Eurasian landmass that stretched across eleven time zones. 

Today, fourteen of the fifteen successor states to the Soviet Union are nuclear weapons-free. This paper will address the question: how did this happen? Looking ahead, it will consider what clues we can extract from the success in denuclearizing fourteen post-Soviet states that can inform our non-proliferation and nuclear security efforts in the future. These clues may inform leaders of the U.S., Russia, and other responsible nations attending the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on March 26-27, 2012. The paper will conclude with specific recommendations, some exceedingly ambitious that world leaders could follow to build on the Seoul summit’s achievements against nuclear terrorism in the period before the next summit in 2014. One of these would be to establish a Global Alliance Against Nuclear Terrorism.