President Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is likely to be released in January 2018. Given the President’s reported remarks about increasing the U.S. nuclear arsenal tenfold, the focal point of the review will undoubtedly be on deterrence, not nuclear security. Regardless of decisions related to the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, preventingnuclear terrorism — an integral part of nuclear security — should still be a top priority. After all, terrorists, by their very nature, cannot be deterred in the same way that states can. Nuclear, fissile and radioactive materials — ingredients for a nuclear weapon, crude weapon or dirty bomb — are quite literally all around us. They are stored in thousands of universities, hospitals and laboratories across the world because of their applications in medicine and research. Preventing these materials from ending up in the wrong hands keeps the world safe from a nuclear attack. The dangers are not as distant as you might think. Security breaches have already happened. In 2012, an unarmed 82-year-old nun broke into the Y-12 maximum security nuclear facility in Tennessee, the “Fort Knox of uranium,” to protest. It is not hard to imagine that criminals bent on acquiring nuclear material could have similar success. The consequences of a nuclear terrorist event in any U.S. city are terrifying. Even a small nuclear detonation could cause immediate casualties from the blast, as well as panic, economic disruption, long-term evacuations, exorbitant decontamination costs, casualties from cancer and overwhelming psychological damage. Regardless of views on broader nuclear policy choices, the reason to maintain focus on nuclear security is clear.
The Hill 20th Oct 2017 read more »