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Progress Made on Nuclear Material Security, But Job Is Not Complete
April 2011

This month marks the one-year anniversary of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC. That historic event gathered leaders from 47 nations to address one of the world’s greatest threats. Now, one year out, we can point to a number of concrete ways weapons-usable material has been better secured (or even eliminated) to keep it from falling into the hands of terrorists.

First, there has been a reduction in the number of locations where nuclear material is stored, a reduction in the overall amount of material, and increased security for vulnerable sites. In almost every case, this progress was the result of a broader multilateral process and required cooperation among multiple countries to accomplish. For example:

Second, there has also been international action to counter the illicit smuggling of weapons-usable nuclear material. Examples include:

And finally, we have seen new efforts to improve nuclear security through increased funding or training, including:

  • Russia agreed to contribute $6.5 million to the International Atomic Energy Agency's Nuclear Security Fund.
  • Norway gave a $500,000 contribution to the United States' National Nuclear Security Administration's Second Line of Defense program for work in Kazakhstan.
  • Several new "centers of excellence" have been opened or are planned in Algeria, Brazil, China, the European Union, India, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, and South Korea.
  • The United Kingdom agreed to send £4 million (approximately $6.4 million) to the International Atomic Energy Agency's Nuclear Security Fund.

For a more thorough assessment of fulfillment of the commitments made at the 2010 summit as well as recommendations for governments looking toward the next event, two members of the Fissile Materials Working Group (FMWG)—Arms Control Association and Partnership for Global Security—have just issued a new report.

While these accomplishments are significant, much more work is still needed to meet the 2010 summit participants’ agreed-upon goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material by the end of 2013. As another Nuclear Security Summit, set for 2012 in South Korea, approaches, political leaders must continue to focus on this highly important task.

More information from the Stanley Foundation and the FMWG is available.

Keith Porter


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