296 Items

The nuclear archive warehouse outside Tehran (Satellite image via Google).

Satellite image via Google

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The Iran Nuclear Archive: Impressions and Implications

In mid-January, a team of scholars from the Belfer Center’s Intelligence and Managing the Atom Projects traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to examine samples of, and receive briefings on, an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The large cache includes some 55,000 pages of documents and a further 55,000 files on CDs that included photos and videos. A clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited the materials out of Iran in early 2018.

The documents that the Belfer group were shown confirm that senior Iranian officials had decided in the late 1990s to actually manufacture nuclear weapons and carry out an underground nuclear test; that Iran’s program to do so made more technical progress than had previously been understood; and that Iran had help from quite a number of foreign scientists, and access to several foreign nuclear weapon designs. The archive also leaves open a wide range of questions, including what plan, if any, Iran has had with respect to nuclear weapons in the nearly 16 years since Iran’s government ordered a halt to most of the program in late 2003. 

This brief report summarizes the group’s conclusions about what the archive reveals about Iran’s program and questions that remain open.

Nigeria's Miniature Neutron Source Reactor was the last operational research reactor in Africa to make the conversion from HEU to LEU. Here, the HEU once used in the reactor is loaded for shipment back to China, the supplier (IAEA).

IAEA

Policy Brief - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Securing Nuclear Weapons and Materials Worldwide: Expanded Funding Needed for a More Ambitious Approach

| Apr. 19, 2019

The Trump administration budget request for programs to reduce the dangers of nuclear theft and terrorism is too small to implement the ambitious approach that is needed. Congress should increase funding in this critical area; direct the administration to develop and implement a comprehensive plan for improving security for nuclear weapons and materials worldwide; and exert expanded oversight of this effort. This brief highlights the importance of ongoing nuclear security work; describes the evolving budget picture; and outlines recommendations for congressional action.

Iran's heavy water nuclear facility

AP Photo/ISNA/Hamid Foroutan

Iran's Secret Nuclear Documents

| Spring 2019

In mid-January, a team of scholars from the Belfer Center’s Intelligence and Managing the Atom Projects traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to examine samples of, and receive briefings on, an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program that a clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited out of Iran in early 2018. The Belfer team’s forthcoming report will explore both the conclusions that can be drawn and the mysteries that remain.

Book Chapter - Routledge

Nuclear Disarmament, Nuclear Energy, and Climate Change

| March 2019

Preventing nuclear war and avoiding catastrophic climate change are two of the most basic challenges facing human civilization in the twenty-first century. While these are separate issues, these challenges are linked in several ways, and both may be affected by the future of nuclear energy. For nuclear energy to provide any substantial part of the low-carbon energy needed in the second half of the twenty-first century would require dramatic growth. This chapter provides an overview of the constraints and risks of nuclear energy growth on that scale, and the necessary steps to address them. In particular, use of nuclear energy at that scale would place unprecedented demands on global systems for verification, control, and security for weapons-usable nuclear materials. Deep reductions in nuclear arms and their eventual prohibition will also require new approaches to managing the vast global stocks of weapons-usable nuclear materials. Politically, nuclear energy may not be able to grow on the scale required unless governments and publics are confident that it will not contribute to the spread of nuclear weapons, creating another link between climate mitigation and nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament.

A building at a Pakistani naval aviation base burns during an attack by a substantial group of well-armed, well-trained militants, apparently with insider help, in May 2011. Nuclear weapons and materials must be protected against comparable adversary capabilities and tactics (AP Photo/Shakil Adil).

AP Photo/Shakil Adil

Policy Brief - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Combating Complacency about Nuclear Terrorism

Complacency about the threat of nuclear terrorism—the belief that nuclear and radiological terrorism threats are minimal and existing security measures are sufficient to address them—is the fundamental barrier to strengthening nuclear security. Many factors can lead to complacency, but the most significant contributors are lack of knowledge about: events related to nuclear terrorism; weaknesses of nuclear security systems; and the capabilities demonstrated by thieves around the world. People will be more likely to take action to strengthen nuclear security if they believe that nuclear terrorism poses a real threat to their own country’s interests and their actions can significantly reduce the threat. There have been many incidents in recent years that demonstrate the need for strong and sustainable security at both military and civilian nuclear facilities.

Photo - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Belfer Center Events: The Week in Photos

See highlights from Belfer Center events with speakers including Susan Landau, Erica Chenoweth, Hank Paulson, Gen. Joseph Votel, Jason Rezaian, Fran Ullmer, Jill Lepore, Susan Gordon, and more.

Report - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Governance of the Deployment of Solar Geoengineering

The Harvard Project on Climate Agreements has released a volume of 26 briefs that explores a range of topics related to how we might govern the deployment of solar geoengineering.

A member of the Czech Army takes part in an anti-terrorism drill at the Temelin nuclear power plant near the town of Tyn nad Vltavou, Czech Republic, April 11, 2017.

REUTERS/David W. Cerny

Policy Brief - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A Vision for Nuclear Security

| January 2019

The goal of global nuclear security efforts should be a world in which all countries with nuclear weapons, highly enriched uranium (HEU), separated plutonium, and nuclear facilities whose sabotage could cause a major radiation release have reduced the risk of nuclear theft and sabotage to the lowest possible level. This will require policymakers, regulators, and operators to commit to a continuous process of striving for excellence in nuclear security performance.

Sensors and fencing at Japan's Integrated Support Center for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Nuclear Security (Dean Calma/IAEA).

Dean Calma/IAEA

Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

Presidential Candidates Need a Plan for Reducing Nuclear Terrorism Risks

| Jan. 29, 2019

As presidential candidates hit the campaign trail this year, voters should ask them: “What’s your plan for keeping nuclear weapons and the materials to make them out of terrorist hands?” Every candidate who is serious about national security should have an answer to that question; every president for more than two decades, including Donald Trump, has described nuclear terrorism as one of the gravest dangers the United States faces. There should be no disagreement between Republicans and Democrats — or between the United States and other countries — when it comes to measures to prevent terrorists from ever getting and using a nuclear bomb or sabotaging a major nuclear facility.

A member of the Czech Army takes part in an anti-terrorism drill at the Temelin nuclear power plant near the town of Tyn nad Vltavou, Czech Republic, April 11, 2017 (REUTERS/David W Cerny).

REUTERS/David W Cerny

News

Project on Managing the Atom Releases New Report, "Revitalizing Nuclear Security in an Era of Uncertainty"

| Jan. 29, 2019

In their new report, “Revitalizing Nuclear Security in an Era of Uncertainty,” Matthew Bunn, Nickolas Roth, and William Tobey document the global community’s continuing steps to improve security for weapons-usable nuclear material in five areas that are key to nuclear security: broad protection against the full range of realistic threats; comprehensive programs to protect against insider threats; strong security cultures within nuclear organizations; realistic assessment and testing of security systems; and consolidation of weapons-usable nuclear materials.