The Naval Postgraduate School & The U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Protecting U.S. Nuclear Facilities from Terrorist Attack

Nuclear Power Plant

"Protecting U.S. Nuclear Facilities from Terrorist Attack: Re-assessing the Current 'Design Basis Threat' Approach"

The Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project of the Lyndon Baines Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin has released a working paper entitled, "Protecting U.S. Nuclear Facilities from Terrorist Attack: Re-assessing the Current 'Design Basis Threat' Approach" . Authored by Lara Kirkham and with editing and contributions by Prof. Alan J. Kuperman, the paper examines potential threats to military and civilian nuclear facilities and surveys the various risk assessment methods used by government agencies. Amongst the threats examined are the theft of nuclear weapons, theft of special nuclear material such as highly enriched uranium (HEU), sabotage of reactors, sabotage of spent fuel ponds, and the insider threat. The authors then survey the threat assessment methods of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Defense (DOD) with most focus placed upon the NRC.

From the paper's introduction: "This report reviews the current thinking on threat assessment at nuclear facilities in the United States. It surveys and compares the risk assessment methods used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Defense (DOD), and it explores alternative and complementary approaches. All three agencies rely on some form of the design basis threat (DBT) as the foundation of their physical protection strategy. We identify shortcomings in the DBT approach, but also in the proposed alternatives."

The Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) has a number of documents focusing on threats to nuclear facilities. Some of these materials may require a log-in which can be requested from the HSDL home page.

1. "Nuclear Terrorism: Risks and Realities: Attacks on Nuclear Facilities"

2. "Terrorism Consequence Management: The Threat Against Nuclear Facilities"

3. "Terrorism in the United States and the Potential Threat to Nuclear Facilities"

4. "Vulnerability of Research Reactors to Attack"

5. "Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities [August 28, 2012]"

6. "Anti-terror Measures at U.S. Nuclear Plants"