Blog Post - Nuclear Security Matters

Nuclear Security is the Foundation for the Three Pillars of the Nonproliferation Treaty

| Mar. 17, 2014

Many of the international diplomats preparing for the nuclear security summit in The Hague are more used to discussing disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy – known as the “three pillars” of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), the foundation of the global nonproliferation regime – than they are to discussing the security measures for protecting nuclear weapons, materials, or facilities.  Some have argued that the summit should turn from an exclusive focus on nuclear security to discuss next steps on the three pillars.

Each of the three pillars of the NPT is important in its own right, and in synergy with the others. But security for nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear material is the essential foundation for each of them.  None of those other objectives can realistically be achieved without effective nuclear security.

States with nuclear weapons will not dismantle all their weapons if they believe other states or terrorist groups might suddenly get stolen nuclear weapons or nuclear bombs made from stolen nuclear material.  Especially after Fukushima, nuclear power will be unable to gain the support it needs for large-scale growth unless nuclear facilities and nuclear stockpiles are seen to be safe and secure.  Indeed, far from being a barrier to states enjoying the fruits of peaceful nuclear energy, effective security is a key enabling factor for nuclear energy, just as safety is.  And nuclear nonproliferation cannot be reliably achieved if states or terrorist groups might gain the means to a nuclear weapon capability overnight through a smuggled nuclear weapon or nuclear weapons material.

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Bunn, Matthew.Nuclear Security is the Foundation for the Three Pillars of the Nonproliferation Treaty.” Nuclear Security Matters, March 17, 2014,

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