Recommendations for Action

The following documents include recommendations on strengthening nuclear security for policymakers as well as operators of nuclear facilities and facilities using radiological materials. These documents are drawn from Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, as well as from other leading scholars and organizations working on issues of nuclear security and nuclear terrorism.


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)

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.

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)

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)

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)

Beyond Nuclear Summitry: The Role of the IAEA in Nuclear Security Diplomacy After 2016
March 2013 | Discussion Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Trevor Findlay

Since it became apparent that the nuclear security summits are likely to end with a final meeting in Washington DC in 2016 there has been much speculation―but little detailed analysis―as to what might replace them. One candidate touted as a suitable inheritor of the summits’ mantle is the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This discussion paper examines whether and how the IAEA could and should do so, what form its role might take, and how the Agency and the summiteers might prepare for such an eventuality. (click here to view)

Planning for Success at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit
December 2013 | Policy Analysis Brief
The Stanley Foundation
By William H. Tobey
"The Y-12 incident was not a wake-up call merely for the United States. It and a score of other nuclear security incidents must rouse all states with fissile material to greater vigilance and inform their actions at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit. These failures in nuclear security must compel actions by the leaders at The Hague in 2014. The need to improve nuclear security remains urgent and real." (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)

Strengthening Global Approaches to Nuclear Security
July 2013 | Conference Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By Matthew Bunn

This paper recommends learning from the much stronger national and international efforts in nuclear safety, and in particular taking steps to build international understanding of the threat; establish effective performance objectives; assure performance; train and certify needed personnel; build security culture and exchange best practices; reduce the number of sites that need to be protected; and strengthen the international framework and continue the dialogue once leaders are no longer meeting regularly at the summit level. (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 provided recommendations for making further progress. (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)

Five Actions for the 2014 Summit
March 2014 | Policy Recommendations
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

"At the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, the assembled nations should commit to eliminating weak links in the global system and support its continuous improvement with the following [five] actions." (click here to view)

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)


Endgame for the Nuclear Security Summits
January 2014 | Article
Arms Control Today
By Kenneth N. Luongo

"The upcoming summit in The Hague in March and the subsequent summit in the United States offer an opportunity to eliminate persistent weak links in the regime and improve nuclear security governance. By linking these two events in a strategic endgame, the summit participants can significantly strengthen the existing system and create a platform for continuous nuclear security progress after the series of summits ends." (click here to view)

Policy Recommendations: Consensus Policy Recommendations to Prevent Nuclear Terror from the Fissile Material Working Group
October 2013 | Policy Recommendations
Fissile Material Working Group

"The Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG), a non-governmental coalition of more than 70 organizations in 31 countries, is committed to improving fissile materials security through the development of actionable policy proposals, as well as advocacy for government adoption and implementation of improved policies....This is not a complete or exhaustive list of all actions that world leaders should consider, but it does represent key priorities that can lead to a more secure nuclear future." (click here to view)

Building International Confidence and Responsibility in Nuclear Security
June 2013 | Working Paper
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

“The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process has helped begin a dialogue among more than 50 countries about strengthening the global nuclear security regime. The states’ national responsibility for protecting the nuclear and radioactive materials on their territory has been continually emphasized in all summit documents. But there is also a global responsibility for the security of these materials. Unfortunately, the international infrastructure for preventing unauthorized releases of radiation is underdeveloped. It is largely a voluntary patchwork of limited multilateral treaties and agreements. This system fails to adequately capture the responsibility that states have to one another and the global public to prevent nuclear and radiological terrorism.” (click here to view)

Nuclear Terrorism and Global Security: The Challenge of Phasing out Highly Enriched Uranium
April 2013 | Book
Edited by Alan J. Kuperman

"This book examines the prospects and challenges of a global phase-out of highly enriched uranium—and the risks of this material otherwise being used by terrorists to make atom bombs." (click here to view)

Responsibility Beyond Rules: Leadership for a Secure Nuclear Future
March 2013 | Report
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

"This document details five steps and 30 recommendations for significantly strengthening the global nuclear security regime and creating the foundation for its long-term effectiveness and adaptability. These steps and the recommendations result from three international workshops held by the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG) in 2012. The goal is to enable substantial nuclear security regime improvements by 2020. The five steps forward are: (1) defining the scope of nuclear security; (2) universalizing the current regime; (3) adopting the principle of continuous improvement; (4) addressing political challenges; and (5) creating a unifying instrument." (click here to view)

Promoting Greater Transparency for Effective Nuclear Security
February 2013 | Working Paper
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

“From the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG) September 2012 Workshop on Building Transparency in Nuclear Security, this report provides initial policy recommendations on how existing structures can be used to make the system more effective and transparent, incentivizing transparency in the nuclear industry, protecting information in a more transparent environment, and closing the communication gaps among stakeholders.” (click here to view)

Defining and Implementing Best Practices in Nuclear Security
December 2012 | Discussion Paper
Harvard Kennedy School | Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
By William H. Tobey

This paper analyzes the contribution that best practices can make to the field of nuclear security by defining what is meant by best practice; specifying a methodology for deriving it; understanding the resulting characteristics of the method; and comparing its pros and cons to other methods contributing to security, such as guidelines and regulations. (click here to view)

Options for Strengthening the Global Nuclear Security System
October 2012 | White Paper
Nuclear Threat Initiative

"At the first meeting of the Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) proposed that the global nuclear security system required strengthening and identified five characteristics of what should comprise such a strengthened system....We believe a system that meets these characteristics can be achieved by strengthening existing mechanisms and through voluntary measures implemented by states in the near term. It does not require the negotiation of a new legal mechanism or convention at this time." (click here to view)

Improving Nuclear Security Regime Cohesion
September 2012 | Conference Report
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group

"From the Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group (NSGEG) July 2012 Workshop on Improving Nuclear Security Regime Cohesion, this report provides initial policy recommendations on addressing gaps in the current regime, identifying long-term political and technical drivers of progress, and incentivizing closer coordination among states and other actors. It also discusses how the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit can help create a unified and durable platform for a secure nuclear future." (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)

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 Disorder: Surveying Atomic Threats
January 2010 | Journal Article
Foreign Affairs
By Graham Allison

This article argues that trendlines are propelling the world towards a "tipping point" for proliferation and nuclear terrorism. It argues that President Obama’s agenda is the most substantial effort to revitalize the nuclear order since President Kennedy. (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)