Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting Goals

Nuclear Power Plant The Project on Managing the Atom of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs released today its lead-up report to the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit, which takes place March 24-25, 2014 in The Hague. The report, “Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals”, “outlines what was accomplished in a four-year effort launched in 2009 to secure nuclear material around the globe – and what remains to be done.”

As far as progress from the previous summit, the report identifies five main accomplishments:

  • “Nuclear security summit meetings in Washington and Seoul elevated the issue to the level of presidents and prime ministers, transforming the global nuclear security dialogue.
  • Thirteen countries eliminated all the highly enriched uranium (HEU) or separated plutonium on their soil.
  • All of the locations in non-nuclear-weapon states where there was enough high-quality HEU for the simplest type of terrorist nuclear bomb were either eliminated or had significant security improvements.
  • Many countries strengthened their rules and procedures for securing nuclear weapons, nuclear materials, nuclear facilities, or dangerous radiological sources.
  • The nuclear security role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was significantly strengthened, as were the IAEA’s recommendations on physical protection of nuclear materials and facilities.”

While the report agrees that important progress has been made, it also “warns that some weapons-usable nuclear materials still remain ‘dangerously vulnerable,’ with security systems that do not provide effective protection against the full spectrum of plausible adversary threats.”

In light of these continued dangers, the report suggests several goals that leaders must set, including combating complacency, improving protection for facilities and transports, consolidating stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materials, strengthening security practices ‘on the ground,’ and building a more effective global nuclear security framework.

A comprehensive summary of this report can be found on the Belfer Center website.

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