Nuclear Security

Nuclear Security

Nuclear Security and Foreign Policy


Nuclear nonproliferation was a top priority for the Obama administration. While the Iran Deal was a diplomatic victory toward this end, major threats persist from both state and non-state actors. Countries like North Korea, Russia, and India and Pakistan continue to challenge nonproliferation efforts. The possibility that terrorists will carry out an attack using a “dirty bomb,” made from captured nuclear materials, looks increasingly real. In a fractious world, which way forward for U.S. nuclear security policy?[1]

Nuclear Security in 2013

United States views on international law [1] in relation to Nuclear Security: On January 31, 2013, Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins, U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for Threat Reduction Programs at the Department of State, addressed the 24th UN Conference on Disarmament. Her remarks are available in full at (Secretary of State website) Excerpts below relate to nuclear security. Other excerpts from Ambassador Jenkins' remarks appear in sections C. and D., in this world legal Encyclopedia.

Some Aspects of Nuclear Security

…[T]he nuclear security summit process obviously focuses on just one type of these serious threats. As envisioned, the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington brought high-level attention and prominence to the issue of nuclear security as countries develop a common understanding of the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and agreed on effective measures to prevent nuclear terrorism.


The 2010 Summit produced a Communique and detailed Work Plan that articulated a common commitment to focus collectively on minimizing the use and locations of sensitive nuclear materials and continually exchanging information on best practices and practical solutions.


The Summit achieved crucial international consensus on three key areas:

The danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to our collective security

Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it, and

Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world – causing extraordinary loss of life, and striking a major blow to global peace and stability The 2010 Washington communique, agreed amongst the participants, also:

Committed leaders to the principles of nuclear security

Reaffirmed the fundamental responsibility of States, consistent with their respective international obligations, to maintain effective security of all nuclear materials

Promoted focused national efforts to improve security of all weapons-usable nuclear materials

Committed States to work cooperatively as an international community to advance nuclear security, requesting and providing assistance where necessary

Called for securing all vulnerable nuclear material in four years


The 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul brought together 58 world leaders to report on their progress in meeting goals set out at the 2010 Washington Summit. The Summit highlighted that eighty percent of the commitments made by nations at the 2010 Summit have been fulfilled. These are all efforts that combat the threat of nuclear terrorism.


For this reason, the Seoul Summit was another milestone in our global efforts at securing vulnerable nuclear material and preventing nuclear terrorism. Other major accomplishments we have seen since the 2010 Summit include Summit participants and others are also using every tool at their disposal to break up black markets and nuclear material: Countries like Georgia and Moldova have seized highly enriched uranium from smugglers Jordan and others are building their own counter nuclear smuggling teams within a global network of intelligence and law enforcement Nearly 20 nations have now ratified treaties and international partnerships that are at the center of these efforts Mexico and Ukraine joined the ranks of nations that have removed all the highly enriched uranium from their territory. The United States and Sweden announced the successful removal of plutonium from Sweden.



  1. Nuclear Security in the Digest of United States Practice in International Law


Notes and References

1. Source: the Foreign Policy Association.

See Also