The Project on Managing the Atom (MTA) has a dual mission: (1) to provide leadership in advancing policy-relevant knowledge about the future of nuclear weapons, nuclear energy, and the connections between the two; and (2) to prepare the next generation of leaders for work on these issues. MTA researchers not only engage in policy research and analysis, but also propose and promote policy innovations, and provide authoritative information for an interested public.
MTA’s research focuses primarily on four broad issues and on the interactions between them:
- Reducing the risk of nuclear and radiological terrorism: MTA has maintained a major focus on analyzing, proposing, and pushing for initiatives to keep nuclear weapons and materials out of the hands of terrorists and secure nuclear stockpiles throughout the world.
- Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons: MTA’s work focuses on strengthening nonproliferation efforts and addressing regional proliferation challenges in the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia, with attention to both constraining the supply of nuclear technology and the reducing demand for nuclear weapons.
- Reducing the dangers of existing nuclear stockpiles: MTA’s work suggests practical steps for reducing the risk of the use of nuclear weapons in war or crises for reducing the size of nuclear arsenals themselves.
- Lowering the barriers to the safe, secure, and peaceful use of nuclear energy: Nuclear energy would have to grow substantially to be a significant part of the answer to the climate change challenge. MTA examines how nuclear energy could be made as safe, secure, and proliferation-resistant as possible – and how the problem of radioactive waste can be successfully addressed.
Our research is intended for a variety of audiences: experts in nonproliferation, energy, and international politics; policy makers; and the general public. The work of the project appears in publications such as the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Arms Control Today, International Security, Foreign Policy, and Science and Global Security. Experts associated with the project also provide opinion pieces and commentary to a wide variety of media, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and the major news networks.
The Project sponsors an international group of resident fellows, who—like the project’s staff and faculty members—engage in individual and collaborative research. The purpose of fellows program is to train the next generation of nuclear researchers and scholars by exposing them to an interdisciplinary work environment—blending policy and technical concerns—and providing opportunities to interact with colleagues, faculty, and visiting policy makers and experts. In addition to pursuing their own research, MTA fellows participate in group seminars, and prepare themselves for future careers in academia and policy.
The project is a joint venture of the Belfer Center programs on Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP); International Security Policy (ISP); and Environment and Natural Resource Policy (ENRP). Major funding for MTA comes from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Belfer Center. In the recent past, additional funding was provided by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the Ploughshares Fund, and AREVA, Inc.