Global Governance of Nuclear Security


Descending From the SummitThe Path Toward Nuclear Security 2010–2016 and Beyond
August 2016
Stanley Foundation
By William Tobey

Will Tobey reviews the motivations, strengths, and weaknesses of nuclear security summits and provides recommendations for how governments can maintain momentum and awareness now that the summit process is over. He concludes that some of the innovations from the process, such as gift baskets and national commitments, progress reports, a contact group outliving the summit meetings, and scenario-based discussions by leaders will continue to be useful tools. Tobey’s recommends that states with nuclear weapons share best security practices, that the United States and Russia reinvigorate nuclear security cooperation, that the next US administration build on the work of its predecessors, and that world leaders fulfill their responsibility for nuclear security. 

A New Era for Nuclear Security
June 2016|Article
Arms Control Today
By Martin Malin and Nickolas Roth

The 2016 nuclear security summit was a pivotal moment for the decades-long effort to secure nuclear material around the globe. As the era of summitry recedes, will states continue improving measures to prevent nuclear theft and sabotage, or will the summits turn out to have been a high-water mark for nuclear security efforts? This article attempts to answer that question.

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Continuous Improvement or Dangerous Decline?
March 2016 | Report
Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn, Martin Malin, William Tobey, and Nickolas Roth

This report provides a global assessment of nuclear security. Significant progress has been made securing vulnerable nuclear weapons-usable material—reducing the number of countries with these materials by more than half, securing scores of sites around the world, and much more. But the work is not done. There are new threats, and global attention to nuclear security may be waning. (click here to view)

The Nuclear Security Summit: Accomplishments of the Process
March 2016 | Report
Arms Control Association and Partnership for Global Security
By Michelle Cann, Kelsey Davenport, and Jenna Parker

The new report from ACA-PGS features 53 country profiles that demonstrate how the summits’ political momentum and commitment-making model has resulted in meaningful actions by all of the participating countries. The report also proposes that the commitment-making model of diplomacy developed at the summit has itself become a central summit outcome, pointing to its adapted use at the most recent climate conference in Paris. 

The Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation Initiative: Evolution, Status and Next Steps 
October 2015 | Report
Nuclear Security Governance Expert Group
By Bart Dal, Jonathan Herbach, and Kenneth N. Luongo

The “Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation” initiative was spearheaded by the Netherlands, United States and South Korea at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague. It has been subscribed to by 35 NSS-participating states and represents a significant step forward in the signatory states’ commitment to implement the fundamental objectives and recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Nuclear Security Series documents in their national nuclear security regimes. (click here to view)

Highlights from National Progress Reports: 2014 Nuclear Security Summit
March 2015 | Report
Arms Control Association and Partnership for Global Security
By Michelle Cann, Kelsey Davenport, and Jenna Parker

This document condenses 49 National Progress Reports from the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, providing an overview of actions by states to strengthen nuclear security and prevent nuclear terrorism.

The Nuclear Security Implementation Initiative: A Catalyst to Needed Action
June 2014 | Article
Arms Control Today
By Jonathan Herbach

This article offers a brief overview of the Nuclear Security Implementation Initiative and highlights its potentially far-reaching consequences for the future strength of the nuclear security. The author analyzes the weaknesses in the language of the initiative and suggests steps governments can take to ensure it serves as a springboard for further improving the regime.

International Convention on Nuclear Security
March 2015 | Report
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group
By Ambassador John Bernhard, Ambassador Kenneth C. Brill, Dr. Anita Nilsson, and Dr. Shin Chang-Hoon

This draft convention aims to establish an effective and enduring “international legal mechanism that allows for continuous improvement and adaptation of the global nuclear security regime.” It calls for the establishment of both a set of common standards for nuclear security regimes and a Conference of the Parties responsible for the continuous assessment, improvement, and development of the nuclear security regime. (click here to view)

Improving Nuclear Security—One Summit at a Time
June 2015 | Article
Oxford University Press
By Anya Loukianova

This article offers a background on the three past Nuclear Security Summits (NSS), highlights some of the notable achievements of the NSS process, and discusses the remaining difficult tasks that lie ahead.


Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals
March 2014 | Report
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn, Martin B. Malin, Nickolas Roth, and William H. Tobey

"In the lead-up to the nuclear security summit in The Hague, 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 authors conclude that “all countries with nuclear weapons, separated plutonium, or highly enriched uranium (HEU) on their soil have more to do to ensure these items are effectively and lastingly secured.”  (click here to view)

Beyond Nuclear Summitry: The Role of the IAEA in Nuclear Security Diplomacy After 2016
March 2013 | Discussion Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Trevor Findlay

Since it became apparent that the nuclear security summits are likely to end with a final meeting in Washington DC in 2016 there has been much speculation―but little detailed analysis―as to what might replace them. One candidate touted as a suitable inheritor of the summits’ mantle is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This discussion paper examines whether and how the IAEA could and should do so, what form its role might take, and how the Agency and the summiteers might prepare for such an eventuality. (click here to view)

Planning for Success at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit
December 2013 | Policy Analysis Brief
The Stanley Foundation
By William H. Tobey

In a detailed analysis, Belfer Center Senior Fellow William H. Tobey argues that world leaders need to act boldly at the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in 2014 and offers detailed recommendations to ensure the process results in effective and sustainable improvements to the current system. (click here to view)

Strengthening Global Approaches to Nuclear Security
July 2013 | Conference Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn

This paper recommends learning from the much stronger national and international efforts in nuclear safety, and in particular taking steps to build international understanding of the threat; establish effective performance objectives; assure performance; train and certify needed personnel; build security culture and exchange best practices; reduce the number of sites that need to be protected; and strengthen the international framework and continue the dialogue once leaders are no longer meeting regularly at the summit level. (click here to view)

The IAEA's Nuclear Security Role
June 2013 | Discussion Paper
Nuclear Threat Initiative
By Trevor Findlay

"This paper is intended to stimulate discussion on the proper role of the IAEA in global nuclear security. It begins by outlining the current role of the Agency and the shortcomings that are in evidence. It then considers how the Agency might be strengthened in the short to medium terms. Finally, it considers what action would be needed to make the Agency truly the nuclear security “platform,” especially in relation to gaps in the current global governance system that it could fill." (click here to view)

The Nuclear Security Summit: Assessment of Joint Statements
March 2014 | Report
Arms Control Association | Partnership for Global Security
By Michelle Cann, Kelsey Davenport, and Sarah Williams

"At the 2010 NSS, countries presented a consensus communiqué and work plan, and in Seoul a second communiqué was released. Countries have also offered individual achievements and committed to efforts to improve nuclear security in their own countries and in concert with other participants through multilateral joint statements. This report, the fourth in a series published by the Arms Control Association and the Partnership for Global Security, details the progress made on the 13 joint statements presented at the 2012 NSS." (click here to view)

Options for Strengthening the Global Nuclear Security System
October 2012 | White Paper
Nuclear Threat Initiative

"At the first meeting of the Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) proposed that the global nuclear security system required strengthening and identified five characteristics of what should comprise such a strengthened system....We believe a system that meets these characteristics can be achieved by strengthening existing mechanisms and through voluntary measures implemented by states in the near term. It does not require the negotiation of a new legal mechanism or convention at this time." (click here to view)

Endgame for the Nuclear Security Summits
January 2014 | Article
Arms Control Today
By Kenneth N. Luongo

"President Barack Obama surprised virtually everyone when he announced last June that the United States would host another, and probably final, nuclear security summit in 2016....The upcoming summit in The Hague in March and the subsequent summit in the United States offer an opportunity to eliminate persistent weak links in the regime and improve nuclear security governance. By linking these two events in a strategic endgame, the summit participants can significantly strengthen the existing system and create a platform for continuous nuclear security progress after the series of summits ends." (click here to view)

Preventing Weak Links in Nuclear Security: A Strategy for Hard and Soft Governance
March 2014 | Report
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

"The current nuclear security regime is not robust, adaptable, or coherent enough to adequately protect against the intensifying and evolving threats posed by nuclear terrorism in the 21st century....This document details five steps and 30 recommendations for significantly strengthening the global nuclear security regime and creating the foundation for its long-term effectiveness and adaptability." (click here to view)

Five Actions for the 2014 Summit
March 2014 | Policy Recommendations
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

"At the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, the assembled nations should commit to eliminating weak links in the global system and support its continuous improvement with the following [five] actions." (click here to view)

Comprehensive Nuclear Material Accounting
March 2014 | Report
Center for International & Security Studies | University of Maryland
By Nancy Gallagher, Jonas Siegel, and John Steinbruner

"This study examines a range of current material accounting practices and requirements and argues that in order for MC&A to fully perform the functions necessary to reduce global nuclear risks to an acceptably low level, its emphasis needs to transition from ensuring the non-diversion of nuclear materials to military uses to providing positive inventory control of nuclear materials, whereby national and international authorities can actively account for the location and form of all designated nuclear materials on a continuous and detailed basis." (click here to view)

For Nuclear Security, Good Intentions Are Not Enough
February 2014 | Column
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists | Fissile Materials Working Group
By Michelle Cann, Kelsey Davenport, and Sarah Williams

"In March, world leaders will gather in The Hague for the third Nuclear Security Summit, with the goal of reducing the threat of nuclear terrorism. Since the last summit, which took place in Seoul in 2012, many nations have shown improvement in securing nuclear materials, but incidents like the December truck-jacking of radioactive material in Mexico show how crucial it is to keep working toward a comprehensive system to battle the problem." (click here to view)

Securing the 2014 Summit: An Interview With Dutch Nuclear Security Summit ‘Sherpa’ Piet de Klerk
December 2013 | Interview
Arms Control Today
Interviewed by Kelsey Davenport and Daniel Horner

"Dutch 'Sherpa' Piet De Klerk spoke with Arms Control Today at the Dutch embassy in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 31. He described the goals for the upcoming summit, the announcement earlier this year of a 2016 summit, and the planned transfer of responsibility for certain nuclear security activities to the IAEA and other institutions once the summit process ends." (click here to view)

The Role of the European Union in Strengthening Nuclear Security
November 2013 | Report
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
By Ian Anthony

"The European Union (EU) will continue to rely on nuclear energy as one element in a balanced energy strategy, and a large number of nuclear reactors will continue to operate for at least the next several decades....The EU has made a commitment to implement the highest international standards in the field of nuclear security....The significant expertise (including some unique technical expertise), budgets and financial instruments, and frameworks for internal and external action that exist at the EU level should be used to strengthen nuclear security" (click here to view)

UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection
October 2013 | Resource Collection
Nuclear Threat Initiative | James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

"The Nuclear Threat Initiative's UNSCR 1540 Resource Collection examines implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540, which requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring NBC weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. It details implementation efforts in all of the regions and countries of the world to-date." (click here to view)

Nuclear Security: Seoul, the Netherlands, and Beyond
October 2013 | Report
U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS
By Michelle Cann and Kenneth N. Luongo

“The report provides recommendations in key issue areas: the NSS process; technical and policy initiatives within the NSS; emerging economies and the Non-Aligned Movement; building cooperation between industry, experts and government; the nuclear security/safety interface; innovating global nuclear security governance; and maintaining political momentum. It examines the accomplishments and shortcomings of the NSS process to date and looks ahead to the challenges and opportunities facing the 2014 and 2016 summits and beyond.” (click here to view)

The Nuclear Security Summit: Progress Report
July 2013 | Report
Arms Control Association
By Michelle Cann, Kelsey Davenport and Sarah Williams

"This report seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of the progress states have made to improve nuclear security over the course of the NSS process, drawing specific attention to actions taken since the Seoul summit. It uses the progress reports submitted by participating states at the 2012 summit, statements made to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference, IAEA Nuclear Security Reports, government press releases, and media reports to identify actions countries have taken in support of the summits’ goals." (click here to view)

Building International Confidence and Responsibility in Nuclear Security
June 2013 | Working Paper
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

“The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process has helped begin a dialogue among more than 50 countries about strengthening the global nuclear security regime. The states’ national responsibility for protecting the nuclear and radioactive materials on their territory has been continually emphasized in all summit documents. But there is also a global responsibility for the security of these materials. Unfortunately, the international infrastructure for preventing unauthorized releases of radiation is underdeveloped. It is largely a voluntary patchwork of limited multilateral treaties and agreements. This system fails to adequately capture the responsibility that states have to one another and the global public to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism.” (click here to view)

The Nuclear Security Mission Beyond 2014: Options for Addressing Governance Gaps
June 2013 | Paper
Nuclear Threat Initiative
By John Carlson

"This discussion paper focuses on the arrangements for addressing these gaps and for reaching collective decisions for strengthening the global nuclear security system—in particular, whether the Nuclear Security Summits will continue, and if not, what the options are for successor arrangements to the Summit process in pursuit of continuing the nuclear security mission." (click here to view

Nuclear 101: Technology and Institutions for Nuclear Security: The International Framework
May 2013 | Presentation
By Matthew Bunn

What are the most important technologies and approaches used to protect weapons-usable nuclear materials from theft? What are the major international agreements and initiatives focused on improving nuclear security? What are the strengths and weaknesses of current approaches? This seminar by the Belfer Center's Matthew Bunn provides a brief introduction to each of these topics. (click here to view)

Promoting Greater Transparency for Effective Nuclear Security
February 2013 | Working Paper
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

“From the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG) September 2012 Workshop on Building Transparency in Nuclear Security, this report provides initial policy recommendations on how existing structures can be used to make the system more effective and transparent, incentivizing transparency in the nuclear industry, protecting information in a more transparent environment, and closing the communication gaps among stakeholders.” (click here to view)

Defining the End State of Improvement of Nuclear Security
November 2012 | Report
Partnership for Global Security
By Kenneth N. Luongo

"In its Nuclear Security Plan 2010-2013, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) states that, “all States have responsibilities to establish appropriate systems to prevent, detect and respond to malicious acts involving nuclear or other radioactive material. Not doing so may create a weak link in global nuclear security.” This is the essence of the nuclear security challenge – preventing weak links from existing in the international system. The challenge is how to identify these weak links and fix the issues when the international nuclear security system emphasizes national responsibility for nuclear security and lacks effective mechanisms for transnational information exchange and interaction." (click here to view)

Improving Nuclear Security Regime Cohesion
September 2012 | Conference Report
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

"From the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG) July 2012 Workshop on Improving Nuclear Security Regime Cohesion, this report provides initial policy recommendations on addressing gaps in the current regime, identifying long-term political and technical drivers of progress, and incentivizing closer coordination among states and other actors. It also discusses how the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit can help create a unified and durable platform for a secure nuclear future." (click here to view)

Nuclear Security Primer: The Existing System
July 2012 | Resource Collection
Nuclear Threat Initiative

"This Nuclear Security Primer provides an overview of the key agreements, guidelines, multilateral engagement mechanisms, and implementation services that make up today’s nuclear security system. It also summarizes the benefits and limitations of each." (click here to view)

Proliferation Security Initiative
June 2012
Congressional Research Service
By Mary Beth Nikitin 

This CRS report describes the Proliferation Security Initiative, and provides updates on global participation and organization. It notes that the program receives bipartisan support, and that critics urge increased transparency, membership, and coordination, rather than cancellation. The report observes that President Obama called for the PSI to turn into a “durable international institution,” but currently the organization is informal and not legally-binding. Efforts to measure the effectiveness of the program have proven difficult, but the structure for cooperation that the program provides has the potential to assist interdiction efforts. (click here to view)

Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog: Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA
June 2012 | Policy Brief
Centre for International Governance Innovation
By Trevor Findlay

"Published along with the report Unleashing the Nuclear Watchdog: Strengthening and Reform of the IAEA— the result of more than two years of research  and examining all aspects of the Agency's mandate and operations  this policy brief summarizes the report's key findings and policy recommendations for strengthening and reforming the IAEA." (click here to view)

Illicit Trafficking of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material: The Legislative Response
April 2012 | Report
Verification Research, Training and Information Centre

"This report represents the outcome of research conducted by VERTIC into the international legal framework currently in place to address the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material. This research has aimed to identify what activities are covered by existing prohibitions. In doing so, it intends to provide a clear overview of the current state of legal instruments underpinning the fight against illicit trafficking of these materials." (click here to view)

Nuclear Safety and Security at the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit
March 2012 | Working Paper
U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS
By Sharon Squassoni

"Since the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, leading to the meltdown of three of the six nuclear power plants at Fukushima Daiichi, nuclear safety has captured the public’s imagination in ways that nuclear security has not.  What’s more, public views on nuclear security span a range of issues, particularly in South Korea, that have little to do with the objectives of the summit....In this paper, Sharon Squassoni explores the intersections of nuclear safety and nuclear security and how this discussion will likely be addressed at the upcoming 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit." (click here to view)

Progress on Securing Nuclear Weapons and Materials: The Four-Year Effort and Beyond
March 2012 | Report
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn, Eben Harrell, and Martin B. Malin

Released prior to the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, this report assessed the status of the international initiative to secure all vulnerable nuclear stockpiles and provided recommendations for making further progress. (click here to view)

Nuclear Security Governance for the 21st Century: Assessment and Action Plan
March 2012 | Working Paper
U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS
By Kenneth Luongo

"In this paper, Kenneth Luongo (Partnership for Global Security) outlines the various elements of the current nuclear security regime, and suggests a new and comprehensive architecture that emphasizes demonstrated performance and accountability with clear but flexible standards." (click here to view)

2010 Nuclear Security Summit National Commitment Implementation: Steps in the Fight Against Nuclear Terrorism
March 2012 | Working Paper
U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS
By Michelle Cann

"In advance of the Seoul Summit, this paper provides an overview of the steps that countries have taken to implement their voluntary, national commitments and demonstrates where needs and gaps of intention remain. The information in this report was obtained primarily from open source publications and is accurate as of February 2012." (click here to view)

Nuclear Energy and Global Governance: Ensuring Safety, Security and Non-proliferation
March 2012 | Book
By Trevor Findlay

"The book considers the implications of the nuclear energy revival for global governance in the areas of safety, security, and non-proliferation." (click here to view)

All Stocks of Weapons-Usable Nuclear Materials Worldwide Must be Protected Against Global Terrorist Threats
Winter 2011 | Journal Article
The Journal of Nuclear Materials Management
By Matthew Bunn and Evgeniy P. Malsin

This article argues countries should, at a minimum, protect against a baseline set of adversary capabilities that all stocks of nuclear weapons, plutonium, or HEU should be protected against, no matter what country they are in, including both insiders and outsiders and a range of potential tactics. It recommends that countries facing more substantial adversary threats put even more capable security systems in place. (click here to view)

Securing the Bomb Series
2002-2010 | Report
Nuclear Threat Initiative
By Matthew Bunn

The NTI-commissioned reports won readership among journalists and policy experts, triggered legislation in Congress and helped frame the debate for political candidates. The comprehensive reports on nuclear materials security are researched and written under the leadership of Dr. Matthew Bunn at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. (click here to view)

Promoting Safe, Secure, and Peaceful Growth of Nuclear Energy: Next Steps for Russia and the United States
October 2010 | Report
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Kurchatov Institute
By Matthew Bunn and Evgeny Velikhov

Russia, the United States and other countries must cooperate to enable large-scale growth of nuclear energy around the world while achieving even higher standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation than are in place today. This will require building a new global framework for nuclear energy, including new or strengthened global institutions. The Belfer Center's Managing the Atom (MTA) Project and the Russian Research Center's Kurchatov Institute developed these and additional recommendations in this collaborative report. (click here to view)

The Future Role of the G-8 Global Partnership: Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction
June 2010 | Policy Analysis Brief
The Stanley Foundation
By Bonnie Jenkins

"The G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction (GP) is a vital international security and nonproliferation tool....Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, US Department of State coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs, analyzes the current and future role of the GP in this policy analysis brief." (click here to view)

Nuclear Disorder: Surveying Atomic Threats
January 2010 | Journal Article
Foreign Affairs
By Graham Allison

This article argues that trendlines are propelling the world towards a "tipping point" for proliferation and nuclear terrorism. It argues that President Obama’s agenda is the most substantial effort to revitalize the nuclear order since President Kennedy. (click here to view)

Enabling a Nuclear Revival - and Managing Its Risks
Fall 2009 | Journal Article
By Matthew Bunn and Martin B. Malin

In this article, Matthew Bunn and Martin B. Malin examine the conditions needed for nuclear energy to grow on a scale large enough for it to be a significant part of the world’s response to climate change. They consider the safety, security, nonproliferation, and waste management risks associated with such growth and recommend approaches to managing these risks. Bunn and Malin argue that although technological solutions may contribute to nuclear expansion in the coming decades, in the near term, creating the conditions for large-scale nuclear energy growth will require major international institutional innovation.(click here to view)

The World Institute for Nuclear Security: Filling a Gap in the Global Nuclear Security Regime
Fall 2009 | Journal Article
By Roger Howsley

"In September 2008, a new international institution was born—the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS). Mohammed ElBaradei, then the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that “WINS fills an urgent gap in our need to strengthen the nuclear security system.” But the key question is, what is that gap?" (click here to view)

Appropriate Effective Nuclear Security and Accounting: What Is It?
July 2008 | Presentation
By Matthew Bunn

This presentation outlines UNSCR 1540 and makes recommendations for providing appropriate and effective nuclear security, material control, and accounting. (click here to view)