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

A New Report: Steps to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism - Recommendations Based on the U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment

October 2, 2013

With a Foreword by the U.S.-Russian Elbe Group

Visit here for the full report in English and Russian.

Nuclear terrorism remains a real and urgent threat. Despite an array of mechanisms established to combat this threat, several serious problems persist, requiring relentless attention and actions by the United States, Russia and other responsible nations. These problems include continuing nuclear security vulnerabilities in a number of countries and the continued incidents of illicit trafficking in nuclear materials, radioactive sources and the various components.

This new report, “Steps to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism: Recommendations Based on the U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment,” was produced jointly by researchers at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies (ISKRAN). The study outlines concrete steps for the United States and Russia to take in leading international efforts to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism.

The report was released at an event at the EastWest Institute in New York on Wed. Oct. 2 (details here).

In 2011, Belfer Center and ISKRAN published the “U.S.–Russia Joint Threat Assessment on Nuclear Terrorism,” which analyzed the means, motives, and access of would-be nuclear terrorists, and concluded that the threat of nuclear terrorism is urgent and real.  Building on that groundbreaking study, this new report analyzes the existing framework for action, cites gaps and deficiencies, and makes specific recommendations for improvement.

The new study argues that the United States and Russia should jointly take a number of concrete and urgent actions in nuclear security, intelligence, law enforcement, emergency response, and other areas to improve their ability to detect, prevent, disrupt, and recover from acts of nuclear terrorism.  The proposed actions involve joint, parallel, and cooperative actions with other countries. They include creation of bilateral task forces to improve efforts to defeat nuclear terrorism, coordinate actions in the face of a future nuclear terrorism event, and study past examples of stolen material to prevent future such occurrences.  The report also includes recommendations for specific standards for each country to work toward in nuclear security and suggestions for working with other countries to improve nuclear security worldwide.

The new study results from a nearly three year-long partnership by nuclear security experts from Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies in Moscow.  The report’s authors include retired senior military officers, government officials and academics from both countries.

The foreword of the new report was written by  the Elbe Group, retired US and Russian senior military and intelligence officers; veterans from the FSB, GRU, CIA, DIA, Ministry of Defense and Department of Defense.  The purpose of the Elbe Group is to maintain an open and continuous channel of communication on sensitive issues of US-Russian including the threat from nuclear terrorism.

Visit here for the full report in English and Russian.

Contacts:

William Tobey
Director, US-Russia Initiative to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism
Harvard Kennedy School,
Cambridge, Mass.
Phone: 617-496-0518
Email: william_tobey@hks.harvard.edu

Pavel S. Zolotarev
Deputy Director
Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies
Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow
Phone: 7-495-691-1166
Email: zlpvsm1@rambler.ru

Also: James F. Smith, Communications Director, Belfer Center, 617-495-7831

Earlier Related Research

“The U.S. – Russia Joint Threat Assessment on Nuclear Terrorism.” (2011) Jointly published by Belfer Center and Institute for U.S. and Canadian Studies.

"Defining and Implementing Best Practices in Nuclear Security", December 2012, By William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center

Progress on Securing Nuclear Weapons and Materials: The Four-Year Effort and Beyond March 2012, by the Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center

Consolidation: Thwarting Nuclear Theft, March 2012, by the Project on Managing the Atom, Belfer Center

Promoting Safe, Secure and Peaceful Growth of Nuclear Energy: Next Steps for Russia and the United States, a joint report by the Belfer Center and the Kurchatov Institute in Moscow.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:A New Report: Steps to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism - Recommendations Based on the U.S.-Russia Joint Threat Assessment.” News, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School, October 2, 2013.