Non-Paper: Building International Confidence in the Security of Military Materials

This is an excerpt from NTI's non-paper, titled "Building International Confidence in the Security of Military Materials." It is an update to an NTI paper released in 2012 on comprehensiveness. To read the full paper, download the PDF below.

KEY POINTS

  • Military materials are estimated to comprise 85% of all global weapons-usable nuclear materials.
  • As a category, these materials are quite diverse and include material in different forms, in different facilities, and in different uses. Not all of these forms and facilities are inherently sensitive in nature.
  • The 2014 Nuclear Security Summit reaffirmed “…the fundamental responsibility of States, in accordance with their respective obligations, to maintain at all times effective security of all nuclear and other radioactive materials, including nuclear materials used in nuclear weapons.” Yet today, the vast majority of weapons-usable materials remain outside of nearly all the existing international nuclear security mechanisms, and no existing mechanism addresses military material specifically.
  • Current and past nuclear security cooperation experiences with sensitive nuclear materials and at sensitive nuclear facilities demonstrates that nuclear-armed states should be able to explore and implement measures to provide confidence about the security of military material.

Background

In the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) communiqué, states reaffirmed the “fundamental responsibility of States, in accordance with their respective obligations, to maintain at all times effective security of all nuclear and other radioactive materials, including nuclear materials used in nuclear weapons, and nuclear facilities under their control.” States, therefore, recognized the importance of security around all weapons-usable nuclear material.

Today, the vast majority of weapons-usable materials remain outside of any of the existing international nuclear security mechanisms. These materials are not covered by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) nuclear security guidelines or the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials (CPPNM) and its 2005 Amendment. Military materials are not routinely subject to best-practice exchanges, information sharing, peer review, or other voluntary mechanisms to build confidence in the effectiveness of their security.

To make real the 2014 Summit communiqué commitment to secure “all materials,” states with military materials should commit to secure military materials to the same or higher standards as comparable civilian materials, including through the application of best practices and consistent with the IAEA’s nuclear security guidelines. States should also think creatively about how to implement nuclear security standards and best practices in a way that builds confidence in their effectiveness while protecting sensitive information. are not routinely subject to best-practice exchanges, information sharing, peer review, or other voluntary mechanisms to build confidence in the effectiveness of their security.

Key questions for discussion at the Global Dialogue on Nuclear Security Priorities include:

  • Given the importance of building international confidence in the security of military material, both for those countries with and without military materials, what types of activities or information could provide confidence in the security of military materials, while protecting sensitive information?
  • What is the range of activities and past experience that build confidence in the security of military materials? Can these be expanded and modeled further?

This paper provides some clarity about what is meant by “military materials” and why it is important to include these materials in a global nuclear security system. It also provides several options/examples of voluntary confidence-building measures that can be applied without compromising sensitive information.

September 17, 2014
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This paper defines what is meant by “military materials” and why it is important to include these materials in a global nuclear security system.