14 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.

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant

Wikimedia Commons

Policy Brief - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

Iran Stockpiling Uranium Far Above Current Needs

| January 10, 2017

In a televised speech on January 1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran had imported 200 metric tons of yellowcake uranium and would import another 120 tons at an unspecified future date. The imports are permitted by the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but nonetheless significantly exceed Iran’s needs for natural (that is, unenriched) uranium over the next 15 years. Iran’s import of such high levels of uranium suggests it may be stockpiling uranium to reach nuclear breakout before the deal’s initial limitations expire in 2031.

The JCPOA permits Iran to buy natural uranium to “replenish” its stocks as it sells enriched uranium on the international market. To date, Iran has had difficulties locating a buyer for its enriched uranium stocks – unsurprising, given the current excess of commercially available enriched uranium. This, however, has not stopped Iran from buying and stockpiling more yellowcake.

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.

Armed guards and police protecting a spent fuel convoy while at a stopping point.

Ministry of Public Security (Ch)

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Securing China's Nuclear Future

| March 14, 2014

China’s approach to strengthening the security of its nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities plays an important role in facilitating strong global action on nuclear security. This report provides a better understanding of Chinese perceptions of the threat of nuclear terrorism and attitudes toward the nuclear security challenge; describes the current status of nuclear security practices in China and of planned improvements in rules and organization, management, and technologies; and recommends steps for further improvements.

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Beyond Nuclear Summitry: The Role of the IAEA in Nuclear Security Diplomacy After 2016

| March 11, 2014

There has been much speculation as to what might replace the Nuclear Security Summits after 2016. One candidate touted as a suitable inheritor of the summits’ mantle is the International Atomic Energy Agency. In this discussion paper, Trevor Findlay examines whether and to what extent the IAEA could and should do so, what form its role might take, and how the Agency and summiteers might prepare for such an eventuality.

Journal Article - Science & Global Security

Securing China’s Weapon-Usable Nuclear Materials

| Feb 18, 2014

This article describes the status of China’s military and civilian nuclear programs, fissile material production and associated nuclear facilities, and the Chinese nuclear experts and officials’ perspectives on the nuclear terrorism threat. It gives details of China’s nuclear security practices, attitudes, and regulations, as well as identifying areas of concern. The article recommends ways to strengthen China’s nuclear material protection, control, and accounting systems and suggests opportunities for increased international cooperation.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Plutonium Mountain: Inside the 17-Year Mission to Secure a Legacy of Soviet Nuclear Testing

| August 15, 2013

The Belfer Center’s Eben Harrell and Pulitzer Prize-winning author David E. Hoffman for the first time report the details of one of the largest nuclear security operations of the post-Cold War years — a  secret 17-year, $150 million operation to secure plutonium in the tunnels of Degelen Mountain.

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.

Book - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center and Nuclear Threat Initiative

Securing the Bomb 2010

| April 2010

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Project on Managing the Atom Co-Principal Investigator Matthew Bunn provides a comprehensive assessment of global efforts to secure and consolidate nuclear stockpiles, and a detailed action plan for securing all nuclear materials in four years.  Securing the Bomb 2010 was commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). The full report, with additional information on the threat of nuclear terrorism, is available for download on the NTI website.