"All Stocks of Weapons-Usable Nuclear Materials Worldwide Must be Protected Against Global Terrorist Threats"
Journal Article, Journal of Nuclear Materials Management, volume 39.2
The danger of nuclear terrorism is real enough to justify urgent action to reduce the risk. Some terrorist groups are actively seeking nuclear weapons and the materials to make them; it is plausible that a technically sophisticated terrorist group could make a crude nuclear bomb if it acquired enough highly enriched uranium (HEU) or plutonium; important weaknesses in nuclear security still exist in many countries and thefts of HEU and plutonium have already occurred; nuclear smuggling is very difficult to interdict; and the consequences of a terrorist nuclear detonation would be immense and far-reaching. Nuclear thieves could strike in any country. In this article, we outline 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. Bunn and Maslin recommend that countries facing more substantial adversary threats put even more capable security systems in place. The article calls for international cooperation, including technical and financial assistance where needed, to ensure that at least this baseline level of protection is in place for all nuclear weapons, plutonium, and HEU worldwide.
March 11, 2010
All Stocks of Weapons-Usable Nuclear Materials Worldwide Must be Protected Against Global Terrorist Threats
The possibility that terrorists could get and detonate a nuclear bomb poses a real and urgent risk to international security. No one knows the real probability of such an attack. But the evidence of terrorist efforts to get the nuclear materials and expertise needed to make a crude nuclear explosive is sufficiently troubling, and the consequences of such an event sufficiently grave, to justify urgent action to reduce the risk.
November 19-20, 2009
Matthew Bunn and Evgeniy P. Maslin presented "Protecting Stocks of Weapons-Usable Material Worldwide Against Global Terrorist Threats" at the workshop on “Protecting Nuclear Programmes From Terrorism,” in Vienna, November 19-20, 2009, which was sponsored by World Institute of Nuclear Security and and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.