The Importance of Securing Military Materials

In a new post for Harvard's Nuclear Security Matters forum, Samantha Pitts-Kiefer describes a key truth about non-state actors wishing to inflict mass casualties: "Terrorists wishing to steal the material needed to build a crude nuclear device care little how that material is characterized; they will go wherever the material is the least secure to obtain it." 

A common misconception is that weapons-usable nuclear materials classified as "military" are most secure than civilian materials. These military materials--comprising 85 percent of the global weapons-usable nuclear material inventory--are also susceptible to theft. "If an 84-year-old nun can break into the Y-12 facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee—considered the most secure nuclear facility housing military materials in the United States—what could a group of armed terrorists, aided by a complicit or unwitting insider, do?" asks Pitts-Kiefer.

Read the piece for steps states can take to secure military materials.

February 23, 2015
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Samantha Pitts-Kiefer
Samantha Pitts-Kiefer

Senior Director, Global Nuclear Policy Program