Report on Blocking Nuclear Terrorism

A new report by researchers finds that much more work needs to be done to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and keep them out of the hands of terrorists.


A new report by researchers with the Center for Technology and National Security Policy at the National Defense University finds that much more work needs to be done to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and keep them out of the hands of terrorists. Authors James Goodby, Daniel Burghart, Cheryl Loeb and Charles Thornton, in concluding that the most urgent priority in reducing the danger of nuclear terrorism is to secure all of the highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the United States and abroad, recommend the expansion of Cooperative Threat Reduction programs as the best way to accomplish this objective.

In their new study ``Cooperative Threat Reduction for a New Era,'' the authors point out that many countries have unguarded research reactors that are old, obsolete, or in need of repair, and in some cases, stocks of spent fuel are still stored in dangerously insecure facilities. A global integrated approach is needed to secure all HEU, plutonium, and other fissile and radiological materials to safeguard against illicit nuclear weapons programs, trafficking, and terrorism. In this global approach the highest priority should be given to securing and consolidating the existing stocks of HEU found in the least secure sites located in the most vulnerable regions of the world.

The NDU study also highlights a number of vital tasks that have not been accomplished by the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program in Russia. The authors recommend a summit meeting between the Russian and American presidents to review the status of all U.S.-Russian CTR programs, decide what steps need to be taken to sustain the joint effort, identify ways to overcome the current obstacles, and accelerate progress in securing nuclear stockpiles in Russia.

Finally, as the antiproliferation campaign has intensified, the report argues that it has become a more complex managerial program and that the overall program lacks the degree of integration needed to make it as effective as it should be. The authors conclude that changes in the management of the government's antiproliferation programs are necessary and should be carried out in connection with the reform of the government's intelligence functions called for by the 9-11 Commission.