Reports & Papers

45 Items

Donald Trump and Anthony Fauci

AP/Alex Brandon

Paper - Centre for International Governance Innovation

US Intelligence, the Coronavirus and the Age of Globalized Challenges

| Aug. 24, 2020

This essay makes three arguments. First, the US government will need to establish a coronavirus commission, similar to the 9/11 commission, to determine why, since April 2020, the United States has suffered more coronavirus fatalities than any other country in the world. Second, the COVID-19 pandemic represents a watershed for what will be a major national security theme this century: biological threats, both from naturally occurring pathogens and from synthesized biology. Third, intelligence about globalized challenges, such as pandemics, needs to be dramatically reconceptualized, stripping away outmoded levels of secrecy.

Advocacy groups display a thousand signs that read #GetUsPPE, along images of health care workers, in a call for personal protective equipment for frontline health workers during the coronavirus outbreak, on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, Friday, April 17, 2020, in Washington.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Paper

Coronavirus as a Strategic Challenge: Has Washington Misdiagnosed the Problem?

| April 2020

With reservations about venturing into territory outside our normal wheelhouse, and in full certainty that some of what we write here will in retrospect turn out to have been wrong, a team of researchers at the Belfer Center and I have been collecting all the data we have been able to find about coronavirus, analyzing it to the best of our ability, and debating competing answers to the fundamental questions about the challenge this novel virus poses to our nation.

What follows is our current first-approximation of a work in progress. We are posting at this point in the hope of stimulating a wider debate that will include a much larger number of analysts beyond public health professionals and epidemiologists—including in particular intelligence officers, financial wizards, historians, and others.

A drone Interceptor MP200, top, prepares to catch a drone DJI Phantom 2 with a net during a demonstration flight in La Queue-en-Brie, France, in 2015 (AP Photo/Francois Mori).

AP Photo/Francois Mori

Paper - Nuclear Threat Initiative

The Risks and Rewards of Emerging Technology in Nuclear Security

| February 2020

Nuclear security is never finished. Nuclear security measures for protecting all nuclear weapons, weapons-usable nuclear materials, and facilities whose sabotage could cause disastrous consequences should protect against the full range of plausible threats. It is an ongoing endeavor that requires constant assessment of physical protection operations and reevaluation of potential threats. One of the most challenging areas of nuclear security is how to account for the impact–positive and negative—of non-nuclear emerging technologies. The amended Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (amended CPPNM) states it should be reviewed in light of the prevailing situation, and a key part of the prevailing situation is technological evolution. Therefore, the upcoming review conference in 2021, as well as any future review conferences, should examine the security threats and benefits posed by emerging technologies.

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

The Three Overlapping Streams of India's Nuclear Power Programs

| April 15, 2016

As India’s civilian nuclear energy program expands with the assistance of international nuclear suppliers, it creates new potential pathways to the acquisition of fissile material that could be diverted for military purposes. A key question is whether and how India’s civilian and military nuclear facilities are separated. In this discussion paper from the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom, Kalman A. Robertson and John Carlson argue that India has not established a complete and verifiable separation of its civilian and military nuclear programs. The authors recommend steps for India to take under its safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency to provide assurances to all states that components of its civilian program are not contributing to the growth of its nuclear arsenal. These steps include renouncing options that would facilitate the use of safeguarded items to produce unsafeguarded nuclear material, and placing the proliferation-sensitive components of its nuclear power industry under continuous safeguards.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

China's Uranium Enrichment Capacity: Rapid Expansion to Meet Commercial Needs

| August 20, 2015

Based on satellite imagery, Chinese publications, and discussions with Chinese experts, This report suggests that China has much more civilian enrichment capacity than previously thought, and even more is on the way. If these new estimates are correct, China has enough enrichment capacity to meet its nuclear power fuel requirements for the coming decade and beyond. Further, China will have excess enrichment capacity and will likely become a net exporter of commercial enrichment services.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

IAEA Verification of Fissile Material in Support of Nuclear Disarmament

| Apr. 27, 2015

This report proposes a framework for IAEA verification of steps toward nuclear disarmament, premised on IAEA verification of fissile material, in any form, whether classified or not, submitted by any state possessing nuclear weapons. It identifies technical, legal, and financial solutions to the challenges posed by such verification, and offers a way forward to the implementation of the proposed framework. The tool that Rockwood and Shea offer is ready for any state with nuclear weapons to take up, finish the final details, and implement.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Fresh Ideas for the Future: Symposium on the NPT

| April 26, 2015

The abstracts in this booklet summarise the research presented at an academic symposium convened on the sidelines of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. As we write this, journalists and seasoned experts in the nuclear policy field have been speculating about the particularly difficult challenges facing the Review Conference this year. To address those challenges, we would urge all concerned to consider the ideas and analyses presented at this symposium. Experts would be hard-pressed to find a better collection of fresh ideas and approaches for assessing and strengthening the NPT.

Paper

Nuclear Disarmament: The Legacy of the Trilateral Initiative

| March 23, 2015

In 1996, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United States and the Russian Federation entered into a cooperative effort – the Trilateral Initiative – aimed at investigating the feasibility and requirements for a verification system under which the IAEA could accept and monitor nuclear warheads or nuclear warhead components pursuant to the NPT Article VI commitments of both States. Although the Initiative ended in 2002, the Model Verification Agreement produced could still serve as the basis for bilateral or multilateral agreements between the IAEA and nuclear-weapon States.

In this paper, Thomas E. Shea and Laura Rockwood examine the potential role for international verification of fissile material in relation to nuclear disarmament, what was accomplished under the Trilateral Initiative and, more importantly, what should be done now to preserve its legacy and take concrete steps towards such verification.

Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Shadow Wars of Weapons Acquisition: Arms Denial and its Strategic Implications

| July 01, 2014

In trying to prevent adversaries from acquiring new military capabilities, countries often employ strategies of arms denial; e.g., “unilateral diplomacy,” supply chain interdiction, covert sabotage, and targeted military strikes. Using a game-theoretical model of weapons acquisition and denial, the authors posit that the prevalence of this approach gives rise to strategic effects that affect all players’ behavior.

Paper - American Academy of Arts & Sciences

A Worst Practices Guide to Insider Threats: Lessons from Past Mistakes

| April 2014

Insider threats are perhaps the most serious challenges that nuclear security systems face. Insiders perpetrate a large fraction of thefts from heavily guarded non-nuclear facilities as well, yet organizations often find it difficult to understand and protect against insider threats. Why is this the case? Part of the answer is that there are deep organizational and cognitive biases that lead managers to downplay the threats insiders pose to their nuclear facilities and operations. But another part of the answer is that those managing nuclear security often have limited information about incidents that have happened in other countries or in other industries, and the lessons that might be learned from them.