Recommendations for Action

Cutting Too Deep: Nuclear Security Budget Cuts

By Nickolas Roth

Matthew Bunn, William Tobey, and I recently published a report titled Cutting Too Deep: The Obama Administration’s Proposals for Nuclear Security Spending Reductions. The report provides a detailed description of the Obama administration’s funding for nuclear security programs during the four year effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material.

Task Force on DOE Nuclear Nonproliferation Emphasizes Importance of Continued U.S.-Russian Nuclear Security Cooperation

By Matthew Bunn

The interim report of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) Task Force on Nuclear Nonproliferation is just out.  It lays out a range of broad recommendations for strengthening nonproliferation efforts at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) -- and in particular emphasizes that the United States still has vital national security interests in continuing nuclear security cooperation with Russia, despite Russia’s behavior in Ukraine and all the important nuclear security improvements already made there. 

IAEA Conference on Advances in Nuclear Forensics

By Mary Fall Wade

Two weeks ago, 330 attendees from over 86 member states and several international organizations convened for the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) International Conference on Advances in Nuclear Forensics, a three-day meeting in Vienna, Austria. Nuclear forensics seeks to identify the history and origin of nuclear material, by looking, as the IAEA puts it, at “the properties of the nuclear or other radioactive material through physical, chemical, elemental, and isotopic analysis, including major, minor, and trace constituents.” Once a given sample of material is characterized, the information can be interpreted by comparing it with other existing or known materials elsewhere.

Don't Let Nuclear-Security Cooperation with Russia Lapse

Nickolas Roth and Robert GardBy Nickolas Roth and Robert Gard
Republicans and Democrats alike have traditionally understood that investing in nuclear security is a small price to pay compared with the devastating economic, political and social costs of nuclear terrorism. That’s why U.S. cooperation with Russia and other countries to secure vulnerable nuclear material has enjoyed bipartisan support.

GAO Report on Radiological Security

By Nickolas Roth

Recently, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a hearing that highlighted some truly alarming information about the status of radiological security in the United States.  The hearing began with a description from Senator Carper (D-DE) of the Boston marathon bomb attacks. He then speculated on the hypothetical consequences of the use of a Radiological Dispersion Device (RDD) or “dirty bomb” (interestingly, an old high-activity Cs-137 source was removed from Massachusetts General Hospital after the bombing).

How Nuclear Material Accounting Can Contribute to Nuclear Security

By Jonas Siegel
Like its predecessor summits, the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague acknowledged the role that nuclear material accounting can play in securing materials from unauthorized use. The emphasis of this and past initiatives, however, has been on improving national laws and regulations—and primarily in states without nuclear weapons. States have yet to develop comprehensive requirements that address the full scope of nuclear risks and that are meant to be adopted by all states—including nuclear weapons states.

China Should Endorse the Hague Summit Pledge to Strengthen Nuclear Security Implementation

By Hui Zhang
The most significant achievement to emerge from the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit was a pledge by 35 countries to observe the terms of a joint agreement, known as Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation. This document committed the signatories to incorporate the principles and guidelines of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)regarding nuclear security into their national laws, and to allow teams of international experts to periodically evaluate their security procedures. Promoted strongly by the chairs of all three nuclear summits—the United States, South Korea, and the Netherlands— the 2014 initiative is an important step towards creating a robust global security system designed to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the hands of terrorists.

Securing China’s Nuclear Energy Development

By Hui Zhang
Chinese president Xi Jinping said in his address at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit that, “we should place equal emphasis on development [of nuclear energy] and security, and develop nuclear energy on the premise of security.” He further emphasized that, “developing nuclear energy at the expense of security can neither be sustainable nor bring real development. Only by adopting credible steps and safeguards can we keep the risks under effective control and develop nuclear energy in a sustainable way.”

Beyond the Summits: The Way Forward for Nuclear Security in the Middle East

By Nilsu Goren and Ariane Tabatabai
With the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) now over, policymakers are thinking about next steps to address nuclear security. The NSS process has progressed since its first installment in 2010; yet, the Middle East, a key region where nuclear security is of tremendous importance, remains underrepresented.

Elbe Group Joint Statement

By Brigadier General Kevin Ryan (ret.)
Recognizing that the crisis in Ukraine and Crimea has shuttered communication between the American and Russian governments, a group of senior American and Russian former military and intelligence officers met quietly in Morocco from 19 to 22 March to ask each other whether there remain any areas where the two nations should continue joint efforts.  The answer, given in a joint statement at the end of the meeting, was yes. 

The Step We Still Haven't Taken to Create a Nuke Free World

By Graham Allison
On Monday, President Obama will join Chinese President Xi Jinping, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and 40 other heads of state in the Netherlands for the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit. It will be the third in a series of summits initiated by Obama to address what he has called “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security”: nuclear terrorism. These gatherings have become a powerful means of motivating leaders to eliminate or secure the fissile material that terrorists could use to carry out a nuclear 9/11.

Getting to No

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?

Reducing the Risk of “Dirty Bombs”

By Tom Bielefeld
In the spectrum of threats to nuclear security, highly radioactive materials such as cesium-137 and cobalt-60 represent a set of concerns and challenges which is much different from that of fissile materials like highly enriched uranium. Unlike the latter, they cannot be used to build a nuclear weapon. However, terrorists could use such sources to construct a so-called “dirty bomb”, an improvised explosive device which spreads the radioactive substances in a populated area. Although, according to most planning scenarios, such a “dirty bomb” would likely cause few radiation-related casualties, its economic effects could still be in the billions of dollars – especially if parts of a city needed to be shut down for weeks or months while they are being decontaminated.

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