In August of 2002, the United States – assisted by a gift from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, when it turned out no U.S. agency had money that was not blocked from doing what was needed – helped airlift 48 kilograms of 80% enriched highly enriched uranium out of the Vinca nuclear research institute in Serbia. A force of 1,200 armed troops guarded the shipment as it moved from the lab to the airport. Under international rules, this was dangerous “Category I” material requiring the highest level of security. But under Department of Energy (DOE) rules for categorizing nuclear material, if the same material had been at a DOE site, it would have been considered “Category III” material requiring hardly any security.
By Matthew Bunn So what did the nuclear security summit in The Hague accomplish? A good deal. Despite being overshadowed by the crisis in Ukraine and the associated crush of side meetings, the summit in The Hague once again served as a forcing event to cut through bureaucracy and get important decisions made. Just as having friends over for dinner motivates you to clean up your house, going to a major global summit motivates leaders to push their bureaucracies to give them something worthwhile to talk about when they get there. Read more about Progress at The Hague Nuclear Security Summit
By Eben Harrell In September 2009, a group of masked men armed with automatic weapons and explosives arrived on the roof of a cash depot in Vastberg, Sweden in a helicopter. The men blasted their way through a skylight and hoisted millions of dollars up to the hovering aircraft — the operation took less than 20 minutes. When police rushed to respond they discovered a bag with the word “bomb” at their heliport — a diversion planted by the thieves — and caltrops (road spikes) near the depot to slow down their response on the ground. While many of the thieves were caught after an investigation, most of the money was never recovered. Read more about We're Not Prepared for a Nuclear Heist
By Graham Allison With Ukraine melting down and the confrontation between Russia and the West heating up, both partisan critics and impartial observers can be excused for asking why U.S. President Barack Obama is going to The Hague this Sunday, March 23, for the third Nuclear Security Summit. Given all the other urgent demands, should nuclear security be at the top of the agenda at this time, and even if it should be, can this gathering do anything about it?
By Matthew Bunn At the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, the United States led the charge in urging states to ratify key nuclear security related treaties. Nearly four years later, we’re still waiting for the United States to take its own advice. This undermines US nuclear security leadership.
As the Crimea crisis continues, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asked a number of experts about what an appropriate short-term U.S. response to the crisis would entail, as well as how the crisis will affect U.S. policy towards Russia. Belfer Center Director Graham Allison was among those that participated.Read more about What’s the Good News About Ukraine? No Nukes
By Matthew Bunn On March 24-25, leaders from around the world will gather in The Hague for the third nuclear security summit. What should we expect the summit to accomplish? Overall, the summits have already transformed the international nuclear security discussion, elevating the topic from the bowels of governments to presidents and prime ministers, motivating states to make decisions to upgrade security, increasing understanding of the nuclear terrorism threat, and getting thousands of people around the world focused on improving nuclear security. But that progress may come more from the process than from the pageantry of the summits themselves.Read more about What to Expect at The Hague Nuclear Security Summit