Reports & Papers

9 Items

Tractors on Westminster bridge

AP/Matt Dunham

Paper - Institut für Sicherheitspolitik

The Global Order After COVID-19

| 2020

Despite the far-reaching effects of the current pandemic,  the essential nature of world politics will not be transformed. The territorial state will remain the basic building-block of international affairs, nationalism will remain a powerful political force, and the major powers will continue to compete for influence in myriad ways. Global institutions, transnational networks, and assorted non-state actors will still play important roles, of course, but the present crisis will not produce a dramatic and enduring increase in global governance or significantly higher levels of international cooperation. In short, the post-COVID-19 world will be less open, less free, less prosperous, and more competitive than the world many people expected to emerge only a few years ago.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, left, American President Bill Clinton, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and British Prime Minister John Major sign the Budapest Memorandum on Dec. 5, 1994 (Marcy Nighswander/Associated Press).

Marcy Nighswander/Associated Press

Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Budapest Memorandum at 25: Between Past and Future

| March 2020

On December 5, 1994, leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation met in Budapest, Hungary, to pledge security assurances to Ukraine in connection with its accession to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear-weapons state. The signature of the so-called Budapest Memorandum concluded arduous negotiations that resulted in Ukraine’s agreement to relinquish the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal, which the country inherited from the collapsed Soviet Union, and transfer all nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantlement. The signatories of the memorandum pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and inviolability of its borders, and to refrain from the use or threat of military force. Russia breached these commitments with its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and aggression in eastern Ukraine, bringing the meaning and value of security assurance pledged in the Memorandum under renewed scrutiny.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the memorandum’s signature, the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, with the support of the Center for U.S.-Ukrainian Relations and the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, hosted a conference to revisit the history of the Budapest Memorandum, consider the repercussions of its violation for international security and the broader nonproliferation regime, and draw lessons for the future. The conference brought together academics, practitioners, and experts who have contributed to developing U.S. policy toward post-Soviet nuclear disarmament, participated in the negotiations of the Budapest Memorandum, and dealt with the repercussions of its breach in 2014. The conference highlighted five key lessons learned from the experience of Ukraine’s disarmament, highlighted at the conference.

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

Steps to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism

| October 2, 2013

The 2011 “U.S. - Russia Joint Threat Assessment” offered both specific conclusions about the nature of the threat and general observations about how it might be addressed. This report builds on that foundation and analyzes the existing framework for action, cites gaps and deficiencies, and makes specific recommendations for improvement.

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.

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

What Happened to the Soviet Superpower’s Nuclear Arsenal? Clues for the Nuclear Security Summit

| March 2012

Twenty years ago Russia and fourteen other newly-independent states emerged from the ruins of the Soviet empire, many as nations for the first time in history. As is typical in the aftermath of the collapse of an empire, this was followed by a period of chaos, confusion, and corruption. As the saying went at the time, “everything is for sale.” At that same moment, as the Soviet state imploded, 35,000 nuclear weapons remained at thousands of sites across a vast Eurasian landmass that stretched across eleven time zones. 

Today, fourteen of the fifteen successor states to the Soviet Union are nuclear weapons-free. This paper will address the question: how did this happen? Looking ahead, it will consider what clues we can extract from the success in denuclearizing fourteen post-Soviet states that can inform our non-proliferation and nuclear security efforts in the future. These clues may inform leaders of the U.S., Russia, and other responsible nations attending the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit on March 26-27, 2012. The paper will conclude with specific recommendations, some exceedingly ambitious that world leaders could follow to build on the Seoul summit’s achievements against nuclear terrorism in the period before the next summit in 2014. One of these would be to establish a Global Alliance Against Nuclear Terrorism.

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

Promoting Safe, Secure, and Peaceful Growth of Nuclear Energy: Next Steps for Russia and the United States

| October 2010

The Managing the Atom (MTA) Project and the Russian Research Center’s "Kurchatov Institute" collaboratively authored a report entitled Promoting Safe, Secure, and Peaceful Growth of Nuclear Energy: Next Steps for Russia and the United States. This report is intended to provide recommendations for enabling large-scale growth of nuclear energy while achieving even higher standards of safety, security, and nonproliferation than are in place today.

Paper - Institute for Nuclear Materials Management

Reducing Nuclear and Radiological Terrorism Threats

| July 2007

Urgent actions are needed to prevent a nuclear or radiological 9/11.  Terrorists are actively seeking nuclear weapons and Radiological Dispersal Devices (RDDs) and the materials to make them.  There are scores of sites where the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons exist, in dozens of countries worldwide.  There are thousands of sites worldwide where radiological materials exist.  Many of these sites are not sufficiently secured to defeat the kinds of threats that terrorists and criminals have demonstrated they can pose.  A dangerous gap remains between the urgency of the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism and the scope and pace of the U.S. and world response.  While the gap has narrowed significantly in recent years, much more needs to be done.  This paper describes the nuclear and radiological terrorism threats, analyzes the actions taken so far to address these threats, and recommends further actions going forward.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Threat Perceptions and Drivers of Change in Nuclear Security Around the World: Results of a Survey

| March 2014

Leaders at the 2010 nuclear security summit agreed on the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in four years, but the factors that drive and/or constrain nuclear security changes are not well understood. Matthew Bunn and Eben Harrell surveyed nuclear security professionals in countries with nuclear weapons, HEU, or separated plutonium to explore this issue. This paper describes the survey, its results, and implications for strengthening global nuclear security.