President Obama on What Keeps Him Up At Night - Nuclear Terrorism

By Nickolas Roth
In an interview about a recent fundraising event at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, MA, former Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli said that President Obama “brought up, on his own, what keeps him up at night, and his first item was talking about loose nukes.” There is good reason for President Obama to be concerned. The threat of nuclear terrorism is real.

The Threats and Vulnerabilities Section of Nuclear Security Matters has a number of resources that can help people better understand the threat of nuclear terrorism. This section includes a briefing given by Belfer Center Senior Fellow William H. Tobey and the Russian Academy of Science’s Pavel S. Zolotarev on the nuclear and radiological terrorism threat.   Tobey and Zolotarev gave the briefing to officials preparing for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague at their last meeting in Thailand in early January. The briefing argues that, while many people think the nuclear terrorism threat from core Al Qaeda has largely disappeared, almost all of the key people involved in Al Qaeda's nuclear program are still at large.  And, with at least two, and possibly three, terrorist groups having pursued nuclear weapons in the last quarter century, it seems likely they will not be the last.

Nuclear Security Matters also features a U.S.-Russian joint assessment of the nuclear terrorism threat and a fascinating chronology of Al Qaeda's nuclear, chemical, and biological efforts, penned by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who led the CIA team assigned to track these efforts.

Nickolas Roth is a research associate at the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs