Security for Nuclear Weapons and Materials


Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Continuous Improvement or Dangerous Decline?
March 2016 | Report
Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn, Martin Malin, William Tobey, and Nickolas Roth

This report provides a global assessment of nuclear security. Significant progress has been made securing vulnerable nuclear weapons-usable material—reducing the number of countries with these materials by more than half, securing scores of sites around the world, and much more. But the work is not done. There are new threats, and global attention to nuclear security may be waning. (click here to view)

China’s Nuclear Security: Progress, Challenges and Next Steps
March 2016 | Report
Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Hui Zhang

In a new report from the Project on Managing the Atom, Senior Research Associate Hui Zhang finds that China has made important nuclear security improvements in areas ranging from its legal framework, to its approaches to physical protection and material accounting, to bolstering nuclear security culture. Zhang also looks at China’s ongoing threats: insider theft, corruption, and terrorism.

2016 Nuclear Security Index
2016 | Online resource
Nuclear Threat Initiative

The NTI Nuclear Security Index provides a quantitative assessment of the overall nuclear materials security conditions in a country by looking at openly available information on indicators in different categories relevant to the risk of theft. The 2016 version includes a new section on how vulnerable nuclear facilities are to sabotage and cyber attacks.

Prospects for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit and Beyond
November 2015 | Conference Panel Transcript
International Institute for Strategic Studies

A special session on this year’s summit was held at the 2015 European Union Non-proliferation and Disarmament Conference. Chaired by IISS’s Matthew Cottee, panel members included Elena Sokova, Deputy Director of James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies; Werner Bauwens, Belgium’s Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non-proliferation; and Thomas Countryman, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Nonproliferation. The discussion included overviews, assessments, and some debate over the summit process’s results.

Bridging the Military Nuclear Materials Gap
2015 | Report
NTI Military Materials Security Study Group

This report, informed by the high-level Military Materials Security Study Group, outlines steps governments should take to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism, including strengthening the security of military materials which make up the vast majority weapons-usable nuclear materials in the world.

Securing the Bomb 2010
April 2010 | Report
Nuclear Threat Initiative
By Matthew Bunn

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Project on Managing the Atom Co-Principal Investigator Matthew Bunn provides a comprehensive assessment of global efforts to secure and consolidate nuclear stockpiles, and a detailed action plan for securing all nuclear materials in four years.  Securing the Bomb 2010 was commissioned by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). (click here to view)


Nuclear Security in India
2015 | Study
Observer Research Foundation
By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

This paper provides an extensive analysis of nuclear security in India. It examines the measures adopted by India in response to perceived threats, strengths and weaknesses of those measures, and makes recommendations for further strengthening Indian nuclear security. (click here to view)

EU Efforts to Strengthen Nuclear Security
March 2014 | Joint Staff Working Document
European Commission

"Nuclear safety and security have always been absolute priorities for the European Union (EU)....In view of the upcoming 2014 Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague, the present Staff Working Document describes recent EU achievements and priorities in the above fields, in particular the main developments since 2012." (click here to view)

Russia’s Nuclear Security Policy: Priorities and Potential Areas for Cooperation
May 2015 | Policy Brief
The Stanley Foundation
Anton Khlopkov

This brief calls for restored nuclear cooperation between the United States and Russia and highlights several areas directly related to nuclear security where they share interests and can work together. Despite political differences between the United States and Russia that have led to a halt in nuclear security cooperation, both countries remain committed to nuclear security. (click here to view)

Nuclear Security Briefing Book
2014 | Online Book
King’s College of London and Center for Science and Security Studies

The NSBB offers an introduction to nuclear security and an overview of both the history of international cooperation in the field of nuclear security and the evolution and main outcomes of the Nuclear Security Summit process thus far. It also contains the original texts of instruments and initiatives related to international cooperation in nuclear security. (click here to view)

Nuclear Weapons Material Gone Missing: What Does History Teach?
March 2014 | Book
Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
Edited by Henry Sokolski

"How likely is it that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could detect even a large amount of MUF in a timely fashion at declared civilian nuclear sites? What of national means of detection? What can we learn from the history of civilian MUF discoveries in Japan and the UK and of military MUF in the United States and South Africa? How well can the IAEA or any existing nuclear material accountancy system track the production of special nuclear material or account for past production? This volume gives us more than a few answers" (click here to view)

Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons
February 2016 | Report
Congressional Research Service
By Paul K. Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin

This CRS report praises recent improvements in Pakistan’s export control laws, personnel security, and international nuclear security cooperation, but warns political instability continuing plaguing the country continues to pose a threat to the safety of its nuclear weapons and material. (click here to view)

Comprehensive Nuclear Material Accounting
March 2014 | Report
Center for International & Security Studies | University of Maryland
By Nancy Gallagher, Jonas Siegel, and John Steinbruner

"This study examines a range of current material accounting practices and requirements and argues that in order for MC&A to fully perform the functions necessary to reduce global nuclear risks to an acceptably low level, its emphasis needs to transition from ensuring the non-diversion of nuclear materials to military uses to providing positive inventory control of nuclear materials, whereby national and international authorities can actively account for the location and form of all designated nuclear materials on a continuous and detailed basis." (click here to view)

Japan Could be Building an Irresistible Terrorist Threat, Experts Say
March 2014 | Article
Center for Public Integrity
By Jake Adelstein, Douglas Birch, and R. Jeffrey Smith

"Publicly, the United States has said little about Japan’s plans to enlarge its already substantial hoard of plutonium…. But since Obama was first elected, Washington has been lobbying furiously behind the scenes, trying to persuade Japan that terrorists might regard Rokkasho’s new stockpile of plutonium as an irresistible target — and to convince Japanese officials they should better protect this dangerous raw material." (click here to view)

On the Importance of MC&A to Nuclear Security
February 2014 | Working Paper
Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland | University of Maryland
By Martha Williams

“Over the past fifty years, the threats posed by nuclear material and nuclear weapons have changed….Because the threat has changed, international and national approaches to nuclear security need to change. Measures should be adopted world-wide that respond to the potential for a non-State actor to acquire and misuse nuclear material.” (click here to view)

What Types of Nuclear Material Require What Levels of Security?
February 2014 | Presentation
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn

In this presentation to an Institute for Nuclear Materiials Management workshop on risk-informing security, Matthew Bunn proposes a new approach to judging which materials would be easiest or more difficult for terrorists to use in a nuclear bomb, and hence which materials require more or less security. (click here to view)

Developing a Nuclear Material Accounting and Control System in Russia
December 2013 | Working Paper
Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland | University of Maryland
By Dmitry Kovchegin

"When considering the requirements for a global nuclear material accounting system, Russia’s experience in developing its domestic system deserves special attention....First, Russia’s nuclear complex includes all of the types of nuclear facilities and nuclear material handling procedures that would be subject to a global system. Second, Russia has significant experience transitioning from an outdated system to a modern one. Third, Russia has operated its nuclear complex in a financially constrained environment and has relied in part on international assistance. Finally, the Russian nuclear complex is managed by many agencies with their own agendas, priorities, and visions of nuclear material accounting. This experience with an interagency environment may be a model for other countries." (click here to view)

Global Fissile Material Report 2013: Increasing Transparency of Nuclear Warhead and Fissile Material Stocks as a Step Toward Disarmament
October 2013 | Report
International Panel on Fissile Materials

"This report begins with an overview of current nuclear weapon stocks and of national holdings of fissile materials and then lays out a set of options for a series of increasingly detailed public declarations by nuclear weapon states of their nuclear warhead inventories, and of their production and disposition of highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium, the fissile materials that are essential in nuclear weapons. It also suggests new cooperative projects that could assist in the eventual verification of such declarations." (click here to view)

Steps to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism: Recommendations Based on the U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment
October 2013 | Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn, Valentin Kuznetsov, Martin B. Malin, Yuri Morozov, Simon Saradzhyan, William H. Tobey, Viktor I. Yesin, and Pavel S. Zolotarev

Despite an array of mechanisms established to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, there are still nuclear security vulnerabilities in a number of countries, incidents of illicit nuclear material and radioactive source and components trafficking. This study outlines concrete steps for the United States and Russia to take in leading international efforts to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism. (click here to view)

Beyond Crises: The Unending Challenge of Controlling Nuclear Weapons and Materials
July 2013 | Book Chapter
U.S. Army War College | Strategic Studies Institute
By Matthew Bunn

This book chapter provides a brief history of efforts to secure nuclear material in the United States. It argues that complacency is the most important driver of nuclear security problems. (click here to view)

The Nuclear Security Summit: Progress Report
July 2013 | Report
Arms Control Association
By Michelle Cann, Kelsey Davenport and Sarah Williams

"This report seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of the progress states have made to improve nuclear security over the course of the NSS process, drawing specific attention to actions taken since the Seoul summit. It uses the progress reports submitted by participating states at the 2012 summit, statements made to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) General Conference, IAEA Nuclear Security Reports, government press releases, and media reports to identify actions countries have taken in support of the summits’ goals." (click here to view)

Preventing Insider Theft: Lessons from the Casino and Pharmaceutical Industries
June 2013 | Journal Article
Journal of Nuclear Materials Management
By Matthew Bunn and Kathryn M. Glynn

"Through structured interviews and a literature review, this report assesses which approaches to protection against insider thefts in the casino and pharmaceutical industries could be usefully applied to strengthen protections against insider theft in the nuclear industry, where insider thefts could have very high consequences."(click here to view)

Special Report - Inquiry into the Security Breach at the National Nuclear Security Administration's Y-12 National Security Complex
August 2012
U.S. Department of Energy | Office of Inspector General | Office of Audits and Inspections

This is the official Department of Energy Inspector General report regarding the July 2012 break-in at the facility, in which protesters reached the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility inside the complex without being stopped by security. The report was commissioned days after the event, and it details the security breakdowns at Y-12 on the night of the break-in. It specifically cites failures to respond to alarms, maintain critical security equipment, understand security protocols, over-reliance on compensatory measures, bad contract management, and the presence of poor communications. It also made specific recommendations to the NNSA regarding how to improve security at the facility. (click here to view)

Approaches to Strengthen China's Nuclear Security
July 2012 | Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Hui Zhang

This paper assesses China’s material protection, control, and accounting approaches; analyzes existing regulations and administrative systems; and proposes ways of strengthening them. (click here to view)

U.S. Russia Partnership for Advancing a Nuclear Security Agenda
June 2012 | Report
Center for Nonproliferation Studies | Center for Energy and National Security Studies | Nuclear Threat Initiative
Edited by Anton Khlopkov and Elena Sokova

This report includes recommendations for U.S.-Russian cooperation in strengthening nuclear security in the former Soviet states and in Southeast Asia. (click here to view)

Progress on Securing Nuclear Weapons and Materials: The Four-Year Effort and Beyond
March 2012 | Report
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn, Eben Harrell, and Martin B. Malin

Released prior to the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit, this report assesses the status of the international initiative to secure all vulnerable nuclear stockpiles and provides recommendations for making further progress. (click here to view)

Building a Better International Nuclear Security Standard
March 2012 | Working Paper
U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS
By William H. Tobey

"This paper illustrates the threat of nuclear terrorism and argues that, with their years of experience, the United States and Russia should articulate a nuclear security “gold standard” to other states." (click here to view)

Further Actions Needed by U.S. Agencies to Secure Vulnerable Nuclear and Radiological Materials
March 2012
U.S. Government Accountability Office 

This GAO report provides an overview and update of President Obama’s 4-year initiative to secure all nuclear material. Drawing heavily from a December 2010 report on the same subject (titled “Nuclear Nonproliferation: Comprehensive U.S. Planning and Better Foreign Cooperation Needed to Secure Vulnerable Nuclear Materials Worldwide”), this report makes no new recommendations, although it does note that the government’s plan, as approved by the NSC, lacks details regarding the cost and scope of the work. It provides an overview of efforts by U.S. agencies to track nuclear material overseas, but also warns of coordination problems between agencies, specifically citing overlap and the fact that no agency takes a formal lead on the issue. 

What Happened to the Soviet Superpower's Nuclear Arsenal? Clues for the Nuclear Security Summit
March 2012 | Discussion Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Graham Allison

Two decades have passed without the discovery of a single nuclear weapon outside Russia. This paper addresses 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. (click here to view)

Global Fissile Material Report 2011: Nuclear Weapon and Fissile Material Stockpiles and Production
January 2012 | Report
International Panel on Fissile Materials

"The Global Fissile Material Report 2011 provides updated estimates for global and national stockpiles of HEU and plutonium, and recent developments in military and civilian fissile material production capabilities." (click here to view)

U.S. Agencies Have Limited Ability to Account for, Monitor, and Evaluate the Security of U.S. Nuclear Material Overseas
September 2011
U.S. Government Accountability Office

The GAO authored a report assessing the capacity of U.S. agencies to track and account for U.S. nuclear material overseas. Of the approximately 17,500 kilograms of U.S. HEU overseas, DOE and NRC could only account for the location of 1,160 kilograms of it. The report also describes the role of DOE’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative in removing material, although it notes that only about one third of all material abroad is eligible to be repatriated. GAO recommends that NRC compile an inventory of all U.S. nuclear material abroad, and that NRC and State conduct annual inventory checks with all partners to ensure the location of this material is accurate.

All Stocks of Weapons-Usable Nuclear Materials Worldwide Must be Protected Against Global Terrorist Threats
Winter 2011 | Journal Article
The Journal of Nuclear Materials Management
By Matthew Bunn and Evgeniy P. Malsin

This article argues countries should, at a minimum, protect against a baseline set of adversary capabilities that all stocks of nuclear weapons, plutonium, or HEU should be protected against, no matter what country they are in, including both insiders and outsiders and a range of potential tactics. It recommends that countries facing more substantial adversary threats put even more capable security systems in place. (click here to view)

Nuclear Nonproliferation: Comprehensive U.S. Planning and Better Foreign Cooperation Needed to Secure Vulnerable Nuclear Materials Worldwide
December 2010
U.S. Government Accountability Office

This December 2010 GAO report reviews the NSC-coordinated strategy to secure all nuclear materials within 4 years. The report notes that specific details regarding the implementation of the strategy are unclear, including the program’s cost and scope. While noting that NNSA programs in Russia have seen much success, GAO also found several implementation challenges to each program. The report specifically highlights concerns regarding Russia’s ongoing political support for NNSA’s MPC&A initiatives and Russia’s ability to sustain these programs once responsibility is shifted from the United States. GAO recommended that DOE and NNSA clarify the cost and scope of MPC&A programs in Russia, and also that the deadline for these activities be extended. It also recommended that NSC take a stronger leadership role over the initiative as a whole, noting that as of writing it lacked a clear inter-agency point of contact. 

Promoting Safe, Secure, and Peaceful Growth of Nuclear Energy: Next Steps for Russia and the United States
October 2010 | Report
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs | Kurchatov Institute
By Matthew Bunn and Evgeny Velikhov

The report provides recommendations for Russia and the United States to address issues related to: safety; security; nonproliferation; extending uranium resources; waste management; cost reduction; and making nuclear energy more broadly available around the world, and more capable of addressing multiple needs.  The authors describe particular areas of joint research and development that should be undertaken, and the need to move forward with the bilateral Agreement for Cooperation in the Field of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, to provide a government-to-government framework for this cooperation. (click here to view)

Appropriate Effective Nuclear Security and Accounting: What Is It?
July 2008 | Presentation
By Matthew Bunn

This presentation outlines UNSCR 1540 and makes recommendations for providing appropriate and effective nuclear security, material control, and accounting. (click here to view)

Nuclear Terrorism: The Ultimate Preventable Catastrophe
August 2004 | Book
Henry Holt & Company
By Graham Allison

In this book, Belfer Center Director Graham Allison provides in plain and accessible terms the “who, what, where, when and how” of impending terrorist strikes and thus delineates the challenge we face.  He also sets out an ambitious but feasible agenda to prevent this terrible threat. (click here to view)

Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy: Containing the Threat of Loose Russian Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Material
March 1996 | Book
M.I.T Press
By Graham Allison, Owe R. Cote, Richard A. Falkenrath, and Steven E. Miller

"What if the bomb that exploded in Oklahoma City or New York's World Trade Center had used 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium? The destruction would have been far more vast. This danger is not so remote: the recipe for making such a bomb is simple, and soon the ingredients might be easily attained. Thousands of nuclear weapons and hundreds of tons of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium from the weapons complex of the former Soviet Union, poorly guarded and poorly accounted for, could soon leak on to a vast emerging nuclear black market.This study by Graham Allison and three colleagues at Harvard's Center for Science and International Affairs warns that containing the leakage of nuclear materials--and keeping them out of the hands of groups hostile to the United States--is our nation's highest security priority." (click here to view)

Soviet Nuclear Fission: Control of the Nuclear Arsenal in a Disintegrating Soviet Union
November 1991 | Book
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Ashton B. Carter, Kurt M. Campell, Steven E. Miller, and Charles A. Zraket

Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals
March 2014 | Report
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn, Martin B. Malin, Nickolas Roth, and William H. Tobey

"In the lead-up to the nuclear security summit in The Hague, Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals outlines what was accomplished in a four-year effort launched in 2009 to secure nuclear material around the globe—and what remains to be done....The authors conclude that “all countries with nuclear weapons, separated plutonium, or highly enriched uranium (HEU) on their soil have more to do to ensure these items are effectively and lastingly secured.”  (click here to view)

NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index - Building a Framework for Assurance, Accountability, and Action
January 2014 | Report
Nuclear Threat Initiative

"The 2014 Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) Nuclear Materials Security Index is the second edition of a first-of-its-kind public assessment of nuclear materials security conditions around the world. Developed with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the NTI Index was created (a) to assess the security of weapons-usable nuclear materials around the world and (b) to encourage governments to take actions and provide assurances about the security of the world’s deadliest materials." (click here to view)

Threat Perceptions and Drivers of Change in Nuclear Security Around the World: Results of a Survey
March 2014 | Report
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn and Eben Harrell 

Leaders at the 2010 nuclear security summit agreed on the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in four years. This goal implied that many countries would change their nuclear security policies. But the factors that drive changes in nuclear security policies, and that constrain those changes, are not well understood. We conducted a survey of selected nuclear security experts in countries with nuclear weapons, highly enriched uranium (HEU), or separated plutonium, to explore this issue. This paper describes the survey, its results, and implications for next steps to strengthen global nuclear security. (click here to view)

Securing China's Nuclear Future
March 2014 | Discussion Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Hui Zhang and Tuosheng Zhang

"The purpose of this report is to provide a better understanding of Chinese perceptions of the threat of nuclear terrorism and attitudes toward the nuclear security challenge; to describe the current status of nuclear security practices in China and of planned improvements in rules and organization, management, and technologies; and to recommend steps for making further improvements." (click here to view)

Consolidation: Thwarting Nuclear Theft
March 2012 | Report
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn and Eben Harrell

This paper (a) discusses how to set priorities among different stocks to be consolidated; (b) describes the scope and progress of existing consolidation efforts; and (c) suggests steps to complement and extend the existing programs. Our discussion of the next steps for consolidation will fall into two categories: covering additional stocks and facilities that are not yet effectively addressed, and using additional policy approaches to strengthen the effort. On the next page, table ES-1 summarizes our recommendations. (click here to view)

Strengthening International Cooperation on Nuclear Materials Security
November 2014 | Policy Memo
The Stanley Foundation
By Nickolas Roth

The Stanley Foundation convened a group of experts and policymakers from the United States and abroad to address these issues October 15–17, 2014, at its 55th annual Strategy for Peace Conference. The group discussed overcoming challenges to nuclear security cooperation faced by the United States, Russia, and China, and next steps in ensuring that countries put in place effective and sustainable nuclear security measures with strong security cultures. This policy memo offers highlights of the discussion and recommendations of roundtable participants. (click here to view)

Securing China's Weapons-Usable Nuclear Material
February 2014 | Journal Article
Science and Global Security
By Hui Zhang

"This article describes the status of China’s military and civilian nuclear programs, fissile material production and associated nuclear facilities, and the Chinese nuclear experts and officials’ perspectives on the nuclear terrorism threat. It gives details of China’s nuclear security practices, attitudes, and regulations, as well as identifying areas of concern. The article recommends ways to strengthen China’s nuclear material protection, control, and accounting systems and suggests opportunities for increased international cooperation." (click here to view)