US AND NUCLEAR ISSUES
Leaders at the 2010 nuclear security summit agreed on the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in four years, but the factors that drive and/or constrain nuclear security changes are not well understood. Matthew Bunn and Eben Harrell surveyed nuclear security professionals in countries with nuclear weapons, HEU, or separated plutonium to explore this issue. This paper describes the survey, its results, and implications for strengthening global nuclear security.
By William H. Tobey, Senior Fellow, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs
In the dead of night on July 28, 2012, three senior citizens, including an 82-year-old Catholic nun, Sister Megan Rice, broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, site of the US Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF). This self-proclaimed “Fort Knox of uranium” is America’s central repository for weapons-grade uranium.
....The security failings revealed by the nun and her fellow protesters are legion. The protesters were on the site for over an hour and 20 minutes, trekking about seven-tenths of a mile as the crow flies, but far longer as they traversed a steep ridge. They pierced fences equipped with sophisticated sensors. Yet the Y-12 Protective Force failed to spot them until they enjoyed unimpeded access to the exterior of the HEUMF forabout 20 minutes. Had these individuals been well-armed, well-equipped terrorists, instead of Bible-toting peace protesters, the incident would have been far more dire.
January 23, 2014
Op-Ed, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
By Tom Bielefeld, Former Associate, Project on Managing the Atom (MTA), September 2011–June 2014; Former Research Fellow, MTA, 2008–2011; Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/MTA, 2006–2008
Although the truck-jacking of highly radioactive material outside Mexico City on December 1, 2013 ended without the worst case materializing, it should serve as a wakeup call, not just in Mexico but also in the United States and elsewhere. Dangerous radiation sources remain vulnerable to theft, especially when they are out on the road. There is also poorly protected radioactive material in hospitals and other facilities. Improving security requires tougher regulations and greater risk awareness in the industry. Unfortunately, the United States is no exception, so it’s time for the country to get serious about locking up its radioactive material.
January 22, 2014
Op-Ed, Foreign Policy
By Graham Allison, Director, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard Kennedy School
Having finalized details of the interim deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited relief from sanctions, Graham Allison notes that attention is turning to the question of "end states" for a comprehensive agreement. In these negotiations, he asks, "what can the United States realistically hope to achieve?"
January 21, 2014
Op-Ed, Boston Globe
By Nickolas Roth, Research Associate, Project on Managing the Atom
Every year, training sessions are organized around the globe to educate those who work with nuclear materials on the seriousness of security. However, security culture is very difficult to change, especially when states have limited resources and the likelihood of nuclear theft is low in many places. On a good day, this is an uphill battle. News of Carey’s drunken exploits and cheating among missile officers does not make this task easier.
January 13, 2014
In these slides, William H. Tobey and Pavel Zolotarev provide an updated summary of the threat of nuclear terrorism, based in part on the new U.S.-Russian report, Steps to Prevent Nuclear Terrorism. This was presented at the Meeting of the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit ‘Sherpas’, hosted by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pattaya, Thailand, on January 13, 2014.
Dec 31, 2013
Op-Ed, Los Angeles Times
The world is rightly worried about Iran's uranium enrichment program. Iran claims this technology is for producing fuel for nuclear power plants, but it could be quickly shifted to making nuclear bomb material.
November 29, 2013
Op-Ed, ISN Blog
By Tong Zhao, Former Stanton Nuclear Security Predoctoral Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, 2013–2014
"if both the top-down and bottom-up methods of trust building are never going to be risk free, is there a more plausible third option? For example, what if Washington and Beijing forget about trust-building and instead opt for a relationship based on mutual deterrence? Unfortunately, the risks of this option — arms racing, a return to a Cold War-like MAD doctrine, and forever teetering on the brink of conventional conflict — might not just upend US-China relations, they might sabotage regional and global security as well."
November 25, 2013
Each year, the Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School welcomes new pre- and post-doctoral fellows and visiting researchers to a select team of scholars exploring the critical role that science and technology play in everyday life.
November 25, 2013
Op-Ed, Christian Science Monitor
By Matthew Bunn, Professor of Practice; Co-Principal Investigator, Project on Managing the Atom
Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu warns that the nuclear deal with Iran increases Iran’s chances of building nuclear weapons. In this Christian Science Monitor op-ed, Matthew Bunn argues that Prime Minister Netanyahu is exactly wrong. The first-stage nuclear deal with Iran will change the politics of the bomb in Tehran. With this deal in place, it will be much harder for Iranian hardliners to make the case that Iran should tear up its agreements and build a bomb.