Reducing Nuclear Threats and Preventing Nuclear Terrorism

| October 2007


The U.S. needs a new strategy for reducing nuclear threats – a strategy that restores America’s traditional leadership role, relies on broad international cooperation whenever possible, ensures effective U.S. deterrence capabilities, builds on formal agreements and regimes as well as informal, ad hoc arrangements, and commands wide Congressional and public support.

The overarching goal of the new strategy should be to protect the United States, its allies, and its friends from nuclear attack and from coercive pressures by states possessing nuclear weapons. More specifically, the goals of the strategy should include the following:

  • As our highest priority, prevent terrorists from acquiring and using nuclear weapons against the U.S. homeland or against U.S. friends or forces abroad.
  • Roll back North Korea’s nuclear weapons capability and head off Iranian efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.
  • Discourage and prevent additional countries, even U.S. friends and others who might be tempted by recent setbacks in the nonproliferation effort, from acquiring nuclear weapons capabilities.
  • Maintain effective military forces, both nuclear and conventional, capable of deterring countries that already possess nuclear (or biological/chemical) weapons from using such weapons against the U.S., its allies, and friends or from using those capabilities to pressure or undermine U.S. friends and interests around the world.
  • Reduce the likelihood that nuclear weapons will be used – whether by Russia, the U.S., or any other nuclear power – as a result of accident or misperception.
  • Ensure that any large-scale expansion of civil nuclear power programs worldwide will proceed within the framework of new rules and procedures that can minimize the risks of proliferation to additional states and terrorists.

Note: On October 19, 2007, The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) hosted the National Security Advisory Group (NSAG) for a panel discussion to discuss this report. To read an event summary and a full transcript of the discussion, please click here. A video of the event is also available here.

The full text of the report, including its policy recommendations, is available through the link and the pdf file below.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Carter, Ashton B., et al. “Reducing Nuclear Threats and Preventing Nuclear Terrorism.” Edited by National Security Advisory Group (NSAG). , October 2007.

The Authors

Ash Carter

Graham Allison headshot