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Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities

Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities logo

Strengthening the global nuclear security system

An international, cross-sector dialogue among leading officials, experts, and practitioners on priorities and actions needed to strengthen the global nuclear security system to prevent nuclear materials from getting into the wrong hands.

  • Global Dialogue participants discuss characteristics of a strengthened global nuclear security system. Global Dialogue participants discuss characteristics of a strengthened global nuclear security system.
    Kaveh Sardari
  • Participants assess limitations that undermine confidence in a global nuclear security system. Participants assess limitations that undermine confidence in a global nuclear security system.
    Kaveh Sardari
  • Meetings have been held outside of Washington, DC and in The Netherlands. Meetings have been held outside of Washington, DC and in The Netherlands.
    Kaveh Sardari
  • Contributors include government officials, leading experts and nuclear security practitioners. Contributors include government officials, leading experts and nuclear security practitioners.
    Kaveh Sardari

Despite the growing importance attached to nuclear security by world leaders, there is still no global system in place for tracking, accounting for, managing, and securing all weapons-usable nuclear materials (e.g., highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium).

Those materials today are stored at hundreds of sites in approximately two dozen countries around the globe. Some of those sites are well secured. Many are not, leaving weapons-usable materials vulnerable to theft or sale on the black market to terrorist organizations that have publicly stated their desire to use nuclear weapons. A nuclear blast at the hands of terrorists or a rogue state would be catastrophic, and the consequences would reverberate around the globe.

Today, the global system to manage and secure these materials is a patchwork of agreements, guidelines, and multilateral engagement mechanisms. All of these, however, have numerous gaps and limitations, which undermine global security as well as our confidence in the effectiveness of the system. The challenge, then, is to strengthen the system, to the benefit of each state individually and for all states globally.

To address this, NTI initiated the Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities which involves government officials, international experts, and nuclear security practitioners from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) as well as from across nuclear industry (e.g., representing enrichment facilities, utilities, research reactors, those responsible for security, etc.).

The Proposition and Opportunity

Through the Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities, consensus has emerged on the need to strengthen the global nuclear security system. The group has proposed a set of characteristics to define such a strengthened system and is in the process of exploring what steps could be taken to animate these characteristics:

  • The system should be comprehensive; it should cover all nuclear materials and facilities in which they might be present, at all times.
  • The system should employ international standards and best practices, consistently and globally.
  • At a national level, each state’s system should have internal assurance and accountability mechanisms.
  • Globally, the system should facilitate a state’s ability to provide international assurances that all nuclear materials and facilities are secure.
  • The system should work to reduce risk through minimizing or, where feasible, eliminating weapons-usable material stocks and the number of locations where they are found.

The collaborative outputs of this process to date are captured in the following short non-papers:

The following are additional reference resources used within the Global Dialogue process:

Resources from the July 2012 Meeting:

Resources from the October 2012 Meeting:

Resources from the May 2013 Meeting:

Participants and Process

To date, three Global Dialogue meetings have been held with a rotating set of participants.  The Global Dialogue was first initiated outside of Washington, D.C., in July 2012.  The second meeting was convened in The Netherlands in October 2012, and the third meeting was convened in France in May 2013.  NTI intends to convene additional Global Dialogue meetings in the future.

Meetings are held on a not-for-attribution basis. Individuals and governments are free to use the information obtained during the meeting, but should not attribute such information to a specific individual or government.

This project is led by NTI President Joan Rohlfing and Deepti Choubey, senior director for nuclear and bio-security, with generous support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation.

Understanding
the Nuclear Threat

Reducing the risk of nuclear use by terrorists and nation-states requires a broad set of complementary strategies targeted at reducing state reliance on nuclear weapons, stemming the demand for nuclear weapons and denying organizations or states access to the essential nuclear materials, technologies and know-how.

In Depth