Nuclear Issues

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Blog Post - Atlantic Council

A Strategy for Dealing with North Korea

| Sep. 12, 2017

New sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council on September 11 in response to North Korea’s latest nuclear test are “not significant enough,” according to R. Nicholas Burns, an Atlantic Council board member who served as undersecretary of state for political affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

Sanctions must be part of a “patient long-term strategy” that includes deterrence, working closely with allies, and negotiations, said Burns, laying out the United States’ options for dealing with the North Korean crisis.  

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Elbe Group Members Urge More Cooperation to Combat Nuclear Terrorism

| Mar. 30, 2016

At a meeting 23 and 24 March in Belgrade, US and Russian members of the Elbe Group – retired general officers from the military and intelligence services – declared that the risk of terrorism, both conventional and nuclear, is growing.  They urged that special attention must be given to preventing Daesh, al Qaeda, and other terrorist organizations which have declared openly their desire to gain weapons of mass destruction, from obtaining them.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Congress Gives Thumbs Up to International Nuclear Security Conventions

| June 03, 2015

As part of the USA Freedom Act, Congress yesterday passed key legislation that will finally permit U.S. ratification of two important treaties that strengthen international nuclear security. While the Senate gave its advice and consent for ratification of the 2005 amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) and the International Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) years ago, the treaties require parties to criminalize certain acts related to nuclear terrorism, so passage of implementing legislation was needed before the United States could ratify them.  Failure to ratify these key treaties on nuclear security and nuclear terrorism before any of the first three nuclear security summits, when the United States was pushing the world to act on nuclear security, has been a substantial embarrassment.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

What Can the Secret Service Teach Us About Nuclear Security?

| Jan. 12, 2015

One of the more notable storylines throughout 2014 was the continued failures of the U.S. Secret Service. There were three striking high profile lapses in the Secret Service’s ability to protect President Obama: one where a man jumped over the White House fence, running through the front door of the White House and throughout its main floor; another where an armed man with an arrest record was able to ride on the same elevator as the President; and another where a man posing as a Member of Congress was able  to sneak into a secured area where the President was speaking. Towards the end of the year, problems within the Secret Service became a hotly debated political football, resulting in the resignation of the Service’s director.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

GAO Report on Radiological Security

| July 02, 2014

Recently, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing that highlighted some truly alarming information about the status of radiological security in the United States.  The hearing began with a description from Senator Carper (D-DE) of the Boston marathon bomb attacks. He then speculated on the hypothetical consequences of the use of a Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD) or “dirty bomb” (interestingly, an old high-activity Cs-137 source was removed from Massachusetts General Hospital after the bombing).

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

What Kind of Material Needs What Level of Security?

| Apr. 15, 2014

In August of 2002, the United States – assisted by a gift from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, when it turned out no U.S. agency had money that was not blocked from doing what was needed – helped airlift 48 kilograms of 80% enriched highly enriched uranium out of the Vinca nuclear research institute in Serbia.  A force of 1,200 armed troops guarded the shipment as it moved from the lab to the airport.  Under international rules, this was dangerous “Category I” material requiring the highest level of security. But under Department of Energy (DOE) rules for categorizing nuclear material, if the same material had been at a DOE site, it would have been considered “Category III” material requiring hardly any security.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Beyond the Summits: The Way Forward for Nuclear Security in the Middle East

| Apr. 11, 2014

With the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) now over, policymakers are thinking about next steps to address nuclear security. The NSS process has progressed since its first installment in 2010; yet, the Middle East, a key region where nuclear security is of tremendous importance, remains underrepresented.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Five Questions with the White House WMD Advisor

Feb. 27, 2014

Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall is the White House Coordinator for Defense Policy, Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction and Arms Control, National Security Staff. Among her many responsibilities, she serves as President Obama’s principal advisor on weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation and WMD terrorism. We recently had the opportunity to interview her about the Obama administration’s work on nuclear security.