Nuclear Issues

13 Items

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer uses a handheld GR135- Radiation Isttope Identifier to check a container that was stopped after passing through a radiation detection device at the port of Newark in February 2006 (AP Photo/Mel Evans).

AP Photo/Mel Evans

Journal Article - Nonproliferation Review

Combating Nuclear Smuggling? Exploring Drivers and Challenges to Detecting Nuclear and Radiological Materials at Maritime Facilities

| June 03, 2019

International concern over nuclear terrorism has grown during the past few decades. This has driven a broad spectrum of efforts to strengthen nuclear security globally, including the widespread adoption of radiation-detection technology for border monitoring. Detection systems are now deployed at strategic locations for the purported purpose of detecting and deterring the smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials. However, despite considerable investment in this area, few studies have examined how these programs are implemented or the operational challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. This article seeks to address this with a focus on radiation-detection efforts at maritime facilities. Utilizing practitioner interviews and a survey, this article identifies the factors that influence the planning and use of these systems in this fast-moving environment. The results clearly demonstrate that the implementation of these systems varies significantly across different national and organizational contexts, resulting in a fragmented global nuclear-detection architecture, which arguably undermines efforts to detect trafficked nuclear-threat materials. Greater consideration should therefore be given to developing international standards and guidance, designing and adopting tools to support key parts of the alarm assessment process, and broader sharing of good practice.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian businessmen in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Dec. 19, 2016.

(AP)

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

A Blueprint for Donald Trump to Fix Relations with Russia

| December 18, 2016

In a "policy memo" to President-elect Donald Trump, Graham Allison and Dimitri K. Simes write: "The two Chinese characters that make up the word “crisis” can be interpreted as meaning both “danger” and “opportunity.” Russia today offers your administration not only a serious challenge but a significant opportunity.

Russia is no longer the Evil Empire the United States confronted over decades of Cold War. Nonetheless, Russia remains a player whose choices affect vital U.S. interests profoundly across the agenda of global issues. First and foremost, Russia remains the only nation that can erase the United States from the map in thirty minutes.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Bunn, Tobey, and Roth on Nuclear Smuggling

May 20, 2015

Matthew Bunn, William Tobey, and I have a new op-ed in The Hill’s Congress Blog, “Don’t weaken our defenses against nuclear smuggling.” We wrote it in response to proposed legislation that would prohibit funding for fixed radiation detectors to catch nuclear smugglers – both for installing new ones and even for maintaining the ones U.S. taxpayers have already paid billions to install.

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.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Reducing the Risk of “Dirty Bombs”

Mar. 10, 2014

In the spectrum of threats to nuclear security, highly radioactive materials such as cesium-137 and cobalt-60 represent a set of concerns and challenges which is much different from that of fissile materials like highly enriched uranium. Unlike the latter, they cannot be used to build a nuclear weapon. However, terrorists could use such sources to construct a so-called “dirty bomb”, an improvised explosive device which spreads the radioactive substances in a populated area. Although, according to most planning scenarios, such a “dirty bomb” would likely cause few radiation-related casualties, its economic effects could still be in the billions of dollars – especially if parts of a city needed to be shut down for weeks or months while they are being decontaminated.

Presentation

The Non-State Actor Nuclear Supply Chain

| April 4-5, 2011

William H. Tobey, and Matthew Bunn presented "The Non-State Actor Nuclear Supply Chain" at the Workshop on “Cooperation to Control Non-State Nuclear Proliferation: Extra-Territorial Jurisdiction and UN Resolutions 1540 and 1373” sponsored by the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability on April 4 and 5, 2011.

The mushroom cloud of an atom bomb rises among abandoned ships in Bikini lagoon on July 1, 1946 after the bomb was dropped from the Super Fortress "Dave's Dream." This photo was made from a tower on the Bikini Island by a remote control camera automatical

AP Image

Discussion Paper

The Armageddon Test

| August 7, 2009

How much nuclear material has leaked, and is it in the hands of terrorists, in storage somewhere, or still in circulation? No one knows for sure, but the task of cleaning up the nuclear black market amounts to an Armageddon test for global intelligence. The standard for success is unforgiving: all nuclear material must be recovered before it finds its way into an improvised nuclear device.