What is Nuclear Security?

There are a number of perspectives on what constitutes the field on nuclear security.  The narrow view is that it is predominantly concerned with physical security of nuclear materials—with a “guns, guards, and gates” model. We respectfully disagree.

The Institute for Nuclear Security advocates a much broader view of the activities that fall under “nuclear security.” In our usage, we mean it as a field that encompasses all the activities that support the following objectives:

  • Nuclear or radiological materials or devise are not diverted to illicit or malicious purposes.
  • Potential threat materials are secured or replaced where feasible, so as to reduce the opportunities for malicious use.
  • Nuclear weapons and related technology are appropriately controlled and monitored.
  • The proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear/radiological threats is discouraged, detected, and/or dissuaded.
  • Systems that support peaceful uses of nuclear energy are increasingly proliferation resistant.
  • Efforts to acquire nuclear/radiological threats by malefactors are anticipated, stopped, investigated, and effectively countered.
  • Consequences of radiological or nuclear incidents, including attacks, are mitigated or minimalized through prior planning and engineering, as well as effective response, emergency management, and remediation.

This broader interpretation of nuclear security is critically necessary to nurture the interdisciplinary approach needed for an effective and sustainable nuclear security framework, both domestically and around the world.