Fissile Materials Working Group

Fissile Materials Working Group

Articles by Fissile Materials Working Group

6 May 2013

How do you solve a problem like plutonium?

Fissile Materials Working Group

A five-point plan for making the world safer.

12 March 2013

Nonproliferation in a time of austerity

Fissile Materials Working Group

Since the early 1990s, the nonproliferation community has obsessed over the annual appropriations to programs at the US defense, state, and energy departments that are designed to keep weapons of mass destruction (WMD) out of the wrong hands. While the budgets of individual programs have fluctuated, the unmistakable trend in US nonproliferation spending was upward. Program managers could generally count on this year's budget being higher than last year's, and next year's being higher still.

19 February 2013

How to safeguard loose nukes

Fissile Materials Working Group

Four years ago, President Barack Obama called preventing nuclear terrorism a top security priority. But even though he said in his State of the Union speech last week that Washington "would continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands," the United States is only marginally safer from that threat today than it was at the beginning of his first term.

9 January 2013

A threat that demands action

Fissile Materials Working Group

For years, American politicians on both sides of the aisle have agreed that nuclear terrorism is one of the most serious national security threats the United States faces. In 2013, President Obama must capitalize on this rare consensus point and on his own power as a second-term president. After all, despite ongoing polarization in Washington, bipartisan cooperation has been the norm for nuclear security since the launch of the Nunn-Lugar program more than two decades ago, making the issue a unique outlier in Washington -- and for good reason.

7 December 2012

Uncooperative threat reduction

Fissile Materials Working Group

For more than two decades, the United States and Russia have worked together to secure Soviet stockpiles of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons and materials, but now the future of this unprecedented partnership, the Cooperative Threat Reduction agreement, is in jeopardy. After several months of negotiations, Russian officials have publicly stated that they will not renew the current agreement, which forms the legal basis for cooperation between the two countries and is set to expire in July 2013.

2 November 2012

Revisiting radioactive source security

Fissile Materials Working Group

The possibility of radioactive material falling into the hands of criminal organizations or terrorists remains a real and persistent security threat. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reports that, since 1993, there have been more than 2,000 confirmed incidents of lost regulatory control over potentially dangerous material, including nearly 150 incidents last year.

2 October 2012

Security at Y-12 nun too good

Fissile Materials Working Group

In the early hours of July 28, Megan Rice, the now-famous 82-year-old nun and activist, and her accomplices -- Greg Boertje-Obed, a 57-year-old housepainter and veteran, and Michael Walli, a 63-year-old gardener -- broke into the Fort Knox of nuclear facilities: the Y-12 National Security Complex, which houses 300 to 400 metric tons of bomb-grade uranium. The three activists knew they were risking their lives by breaking into the facility; the guards at Y-12 are sanctioned to use deadly force on trespassers.

30 August 2012

The oversight imperative

Fissile Materials Working Group

The prevention of nuclear terrorism, one of the foremost international security threats that we face today, relies on separate national regulations with little oversight. There are few international checks and balances on the physical protection of the treacherous material, which could be used to create nuclear devices by terrorists, aside from bilateral agreements and individual treaties formed at the will of individual states. This lack of binding guidelines and international oversight of nuclear security is inadequate for today's nuclear risks.

12 July 2012

Australia's nuclear dilemma

Fissile Materials Working Group

"What will make a focus on nuclear security a permanent feature of what we do?" asked Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit held in Seoul in late March. Experts agree that the 2014 summit must go further in securing nuclear materials from disasters and, most important, terrorist threats -- but agreement on precisely how to do this is harder to come by. In this regard, Australia has much to offer.

12 June 2012

Nuclear security's top priority

Fissile Materials Working Group

In the past two decades, at least two terrorist groups have made serious attempts at obtaining nuclear weapons or the nuclear material needed to make them. They won't be the last. Foiling terrorists willing to inflict unlimited damage requires the international community to prioritize the nuclear stocks that pose the greatest risks and take immediate steps to eliminate or secure them.