Hours after President Biden signed a new strategy to Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Terrorism and Advance Nuclear and Radioactive Material Security, NTI hosted Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, White House Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, and four other government leaders—each of whom will be instrumental to successful implementation—for a public event about this critical step for strengthening global security.
The strategy’s directive “comes at a critical moment,” Sherwood-Randall said. “Russia’s horrific actions have upended conventional thinking about nuclear security. It could not be more important to promote responsible nuclear behavior right now.”
In addition to Sherwood-Randall, the hybrid event, watched by nearly 1,000 people online, featured Hon. Jill Hruby, Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration; Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security; Hon. Christopher T. Hanson; Chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and Mr. Gary Rasicot, Acting Assistant Secretary for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, Department of Homeland Security. NTI Co-Chair and CEO Ernest J. Moniz moderated the discussion about the strategy, which, according to the White House, “integrates, in a systematic way, U.S. policies to counter the use of chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons by non-state actors, sets out unified priorities for Departments and Agencies across the Federal government, and affirms the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to work with state, local, tribal, international, and private sector partners on preventing, mitigating, and responding to WMD terrorism threats.”
Moniz acknowledged that when it comes to nuclear and radiological security, much of the world’s attention rightly has been trained on Russia and Ukraine over the last year. However, “we can’t lose sight of the fact that there are more than 1800 metric tons of materials that we need to control in countries around the world … and we have numerous radiological sources that pose threats for dirty bombs,” he said.
Sherwood-Randall framed the new strategy as an effort by the Biden administration to keep pace with a rapidly evolving threat environment. “Though countering terrorism has been a top priority for the United States for more than two decades, the terrorist threat has evolved,” she said. “As a result, we are evolving our counterterrorism enterprise to ensure that it is well-positioned and nimble enough to meet emerging threats in real time. That means we must maintain our attention and our focus on existential threats that are generally deemed low probability but high consequence.”