- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center Newsletter

Center Community Informs Upcoming Global Nuclear Summit

| Spring 2010

"[W]e must ensure that terrorists never acquire a nuclear weapon. This is the most immediate and extreme threat to global security. . . . [T]oday I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years." - President Barack Obama,Prague, April 5, 2009

In July, 2009, President Obama announced the first Global Nuclear Summit to "develop steps that can be taken together to secure vulnerable materials, combat nuclear smuggling and deter, detect, and disrupt attempts at nuclear terrorism." More than 40 heads of state are expected to take part in the summit in Washington, D.C. in April.

Because the goals and objectives of the summit mirror a long-time focus and effort of the Belfer Center, it is not surprising that a number of current and former Center experts are involved in various aspects of summit planning and nuclear terrorism prevention efforts.

Former International Security Program (ISP) fellow Gary Samore, coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction, proliferation, and terrorism, is responsible for the United States' summit planning, and Laura Holgate, former ISP staff assistant and now senior director for weapons of mass destruction terrorism and threat reduction, is Samore's sous-sherpa for the summit. Other former ISP research fellows-Michèle Flournoy, under secretary of defense for policy, and DanielPoneman, deputy secretary of energy-are also involved in the summit effort.

Former ISP fellow James N. Miller, now deputy under secretary of defense for policy, is working on the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which helps set the future course of U.S. defense policy. The review is expected to make prevention of nuclear terrorism a primary aim of strategic nuclear planning.

Matthew Bunn, co-principal investigator of the Belfer Center's Project on Managing the Atom, has been offering the administration a stream of suggestions on summit planning and President Obama's four-year nuclear security effort. With Scott Sagan of Stanford University and Roger Howsley of the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS), Bunn organized a workshop held in Vienna in November to make the case for stringent measures to protect all stocks of plutonium and highly enriched uranium, even in the safest countries. Bunn is currently developing a report with the Nuclear Threat Initiative detailing steps to secure all nuclear materials worldwide in four years.

President Obama was considering dangers of nuclear terrorism in 2005 when then freshman Senator Obama traveled to Russia with Senator Richard Lugar to inspect nuclear weapons sites. En route to one site, Obama read Belfer Center Director Graham Allison's book Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate PreventableCatastrophe, according to a ChicagoTribune article. "He barely looked up as a barren soccer field, toppled statues of Soviet icons and closed factories passed by the tinted window." Obama returned from the trip committed to taking steps to secure nuclear material.

In a recent Foreign Policy article, "A Failure to Imagine the Worst," Allison wrote, "The countdown to a nuclear 9/11 can be stopped, but only by realistic recognition of the threat, a clear agenda for action, and relentless determination to pursue it." His article introduces a timeline of al Qaeda's efforts to acquire WMD developed by Center Senior Fellow Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, former head of the CIA's terrorism and weapons-of-mass-destruction efforts.

The Center's new U.S.-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism is described in the article above. A complete list of recent Belfer Center publications focusing on nuclear terrorism is available at http://belfercenter.ksg.harvard.edu/topic/6/nuclear_terrorism.html.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Wilke, Sharon. Center Community Informs Upcoming Global Nuclear Summit.” Belfer Center Newsletter (Spring 2010).

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