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

Nuclear Security in Turkey

Aug. 04, 2016

In mid-July, as an attempted coup was taking place in Turkey, many in the United States wondered whether U.S. tactical nuclear weapons stored at the Turkish airbase, Incirlik, were adequately protected against theft. Congressional Research Service Nuclear Weapons Policy Specialist, Amy Woolf, recently published a short article describing some of the security systems surrounding those weapons.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Cancel the plutonium fuel factory

July 19, 2016

Matthew Bunn and Gary Samore just published an op-ed arguing that the program to build a factory that converts excess plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons into plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel for nuclear reactors has become too expensive. Although the two helped to launch the program in the mid-90s, they argue "It is time to stop throwing good money after bad and pursue cheaper alternatives that will serve our national security better" and "whatever we do with this plutonium in the long term, we should move to put it under international monitoring, and commit never again to use it in weapons..." You can read their complete argument here.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Fresh Thinking on Highly Enriched Uranium Research Reactor Conversions

| Feb. 03, 2016

Last week, a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine panel affirmed the goal of eliminating highly enriched uranium (HEU) from civilian use, while recommending step-wise conversion of high performance research reactors using weapon-grade uranium fuel and that the White House coordinate a 50-year national roadmap for neutron-based research. (Full disclosure:  I sat on that committee, and oversaw the NNSA reactor conversion program from 2006-9; this post, however, represents my views, not necessarily those of the committee or NNSA.)

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

All HEU Removed from Georgia, Again

| Jan. 12, 2016

In 1998, in Operation Auburn Endeavor, the U.S. government helped fly 4.3 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and low-enriched uranium (LEU) from vulnerable facilities in war-torn Georgia to the Dounreay reprocessing plant in the United Kingdom. At the time, those in the U.S. government involved in the project, myself included, thought that was all the HEU there was in Georgia. So it was a surprise when the IAEA announced the removal of another 1.83 kilograms of HEU from Georgia – apparently now really the last of the HEU there.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

The Dannemora Prison Break: Lessons for Nuclear Facilities

| Sep. 09, 2015

In prisons as in nuclear facilities, employees are tasked with guarding something highly dangerous in high-stress environments. Both face high costs in the event of failure, and both are especially vulnerable to complacency and insider threats. Given these parallels, two inmates’ dramatic break-out from a New York prison in early June offers nuclear security practitioners valuable insights into how to avert an equally dramatic (and potentially much more consequential) breech.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Dirty bomb efforts and uranium seizure in Ukraine may be less than meets the eye

    Author:
  • Artur Saradzhyan
| Aug. 12, 2015

Ukraine-based journalist Maxim Tucker has just published two articles to claim that pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine are plotting to manufacture a dirty bomb with the help of Russian scientists, using radioactive waste from a storage facility at the Donetsk Chemical Factory.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Summary of Nonproliferation funding in Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2016 Budget Request

| Feb. 24, 2015

The Obama administration is proposing to boost Department of Energy nonproliferation funding to $1.94 billion—more than a $300 million increase from what Congress appropriated last year—in fiscal year 2016. But this is an increase over the very low fiscal year 2015 budget proposed by the administration and then further cut by Congress. Both Congress and the Russian government have cut back on further U.S.-funded nuclear security work in Russia, and the Obama administration has yet to develop major new initiatives that could absorb those resources.

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.