Nuclear Issues

40 Items

FBI agents leave a raid in Trenton, N.J. on July 19, 2012

Julio Cortez/AP

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

The Long Arm

| February 2019

The networks of middlemen and intermediaries involved in the illicit procurement of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related goods and technologies often operate outside of the United States, which presents several legal and political challenges regarding U.S. trade control enforcement activities. This report considers the extraterritorial efforts of U.S. law enforcement in counterproliferation-related activities and their implications. In other words, how does the United States contend with violations of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related trade controls in overseas jurisdictions, and what are the implications for broader U.S. and international nonproliferation efforts, as well as wider international security and economic concerns? 

Collapse of Soviet Union Pro-democracy demonstrators file across Moscow's Crimean Bridge to link up with thousands more converging on a square in the downtown area in Moscow, Feb. 23, 1990. Those in the foreground wave flags and banners of one of the organization seeking free elections throughout the Soviet Union. (AP Photo/Boris Yurchenko)

AP Photo/Boris Yurchenko

Analysis & Opinions - Russia Matters

The Soviet Collapse and Its Lessons for Modern Russia: Gaidar Revisited

| Dec. 22, 2016

Although Russia has evolved in many ways since 1991, it’s worth taking a second look at the drivers behind the Soviet collapse and assessing which of them may be relevant for today’s Russia or could become relevant in the near to medium-term future.

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

Two Recent Incidents of Insecurity

| July 21, 2015

Are nuclear sites secure?  There are some who might assume the answer is yes and that we should not worry about the possibility of nuclear bomb material being stolen. Yet, recent history has repeatedly demonstrated that high security facilities thought to be secure were actually vulnerable. Two such incidents last month illustrated this idea.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Why Security Fails

    Author:
  • Roger G. Johnston
| Feb. 11, 2015

In thinking about how nuclear security and safeguards can fail, it is useful to keep in mind why security usually fails in general.  Most security managers and organizations have a good understanding of the assets they are trying to protect, the resources available to them to protect those assets, and the consequences should security fail (though this is sometimes greatly underestimated).  They often have a reasonably accurate understanding of the threats they face—who might attack, why, how, when, and with what goals and resources.  What is often lacking is a good understanding of the vulnerabilities—the weaknesses in the security that can be exploited by the threats—and how those vulnerabilities can be mitigated or eliminated.

Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Belfer Experts: The End of U.S.–Russian Nuclear Security Cooperation?

Jan. 21, 2015

More than two decades of U.S.-Russian cooperation to keep potential nuclear bomb material out of terrorist hands largely came to an end last month, as The Boston Globe reported Monday. Although the dangers have not gone away, Russia is no longer interested in working on most nuclear security projects with the United States— yet another victim of increasing tension between the two countries. The Belfer Center has been centrally involved in these efforts since their inception. Belfer Center experts Graham Allison, Matthew Bunn, and William Tobey offer their thoughts.

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

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.