Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

November 2014 Nuclear Security Brief

Dec. 08, 2014

Prepared by Nate Sans

Russia announces it will not attend 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, Pentagon reports find systemic problems across nuclear enterprise, and more.


  • Russia announces that it will not attend the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., and that it plans to scale back bilateral nuclear security cooperation with the United States.
  • Pentagon reports find systemic problems across the nuclear enterprise.

Nuclear Security Funding

  • As part of its force improvement program, the Air Force’s Global Strike Command will request $11 million in additional funding for training and equipping nuclear security forces. (11/11/14)
  • Two Pentagon reports, one by current officials and the other by retired senior military officers, identified “systemic problems across the nuclear enterprise,” according to the New York Times. Officials familiar with the reports stated “…the external reviewers had leveled some of their harshest criticism at personnel reliability programs, which seek to determine the mental fitness of those charged with firing the nation’s nuclear arms. They said the programs, as currently managed, often conveyed distrust of atomic personnel and actually reduced fitness.” (11/13/14)

US-Russian Nuclear Security Cooperation

  • Russia announced that it will not attend the U.S.-hosted 2016 Nuclear Security Summit. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs addressed press coverage of the decision to boycott the summit in a statement. (11/5/2014)
  • The New York Timesreported that Russia plans to reduce cooperation with the United States to secure nuclear materials inside its borders (11/13/14). See responses from the Belfer Center’s experts here. Arms Control Today also reported on this topic.
  • The New York Times published a series of pieces written by experts debating the question “Should Washington and Moscow continue to work together to reduce nuclear stockpiles and cooperate to secure, or eliminate, weapons and nuclear materials despite the dispute around Russian actions in Ukraine?” (11/14/14)

Threats and Vulnerabilities

  • Russian owned nuclear company, Rosatom, is reported to have fired 276 employees from 2009 to 2012 because of problems related to corruption. (10/14)
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission awarded a $12 million dollar contract for testing cyber security of nuclear power plants in the United States. (11/6/14)
  • Since October, more than a dozen incidents have been recorded in which drones have flown over French nuclear power plants. One recent incident, which triggered an emergency inter-ministerial meeting focused on the issue, involved five coordinated flyovers at different facilities in one night.  (11/9/14)

Security for Nuclear Weapons and Materials

  • In a Huffington Post piece titled “Preventing a nuclear ISIS,” Joe Cirincione suggests that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) might be able to conduct a nuclear attack, given its heretofore unprecedented resources and the lack of security at some Russian and Pakistani sites. (11/18/14)
  • The Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Energy released a report on an investigation it conducted into inappropriate conduct by federal agents of the Department of Energy’s Office of Secure Transportation (OST). The Inspector General found that the OST Operations Squad Commander “…was engaged in unsuitable, reportable behaviors such as uncontrolled anger, hostility, and aggression toward fellow workers and authority figures.” (11/24/14)

Stopping Nuclear Smuggling

  • An associate of the Tinners (the Swiss men who participated in A.Q. Khan’s nuclear smuggling network) was acquitted in Switzerland of promotion of the manufacture of nuclear weapons. The associate, an engineer who reportedly built a control system for centrifuges, will receive approximately $36,000 in compensation (in addition to payment of his legal costs) from the Swiss government and will not have to serve his previously-suspended sentence of 120 days in prison. (11/12/14)
For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: November 2014 Nuclear Security Brief.” Nuclear Security Matters, December 8, 2014,