The upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on March 26-27 will further discuss global cooperation in preventing nuclear terrorism. Although no nuclear terrorist attack has been reported so far, nuclear and radioactive materials and related technologies are widely used and the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack does exist.
The international community has made great efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism. The United Nations Security Council adopted resolution 1540 in 2004 to prohibit any non-state actor acquiring or manufacturing weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. Resolution 1887 was adopted at a summit in 2009 on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament aimed at strengthening the implementation of resolution 1540. It urged all countries to ensure the security of especially vulnerable nuclear weapons materials to prevent nuclear terrorism.
Associate Professor of Public Policy and Project on Managing the Atom Co-Principal Investigator Matthew Bunn and Managing the Atom Research Associate Andrew Newman outline specific steps that President-elect Obama should take to reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism to a fraction of its current level during his first term in office. This paper summarizes the recommendations in and provides additional detail on organizing the U.S. government to prevent nuclear terrorism and on steps that should be taken during the transition and the opening weeks of the new administration.
No person, no police officer, no agency, and no country can prevent a nuclear terrorist attack on its own. There are too many unlocked doors and unknown players, too many ports and porous borders.