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.
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A new international study group tackles the 85 percent of materials outside of international security mechanisms.
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