The spread of nuclear technology and materials for energy, research, and medical applications pose significant security concerns when coupled with current increases in global terrorism and extremism. The Stimson Center’s Nuclear Security program works with the private sector to generate ideas that incentivize the development and adoption of stronger, comprehensive nuclear security standards among industry stakeholders to reduce the risk posed by nuclear terrorism. This program is part of the Managing Across Boundaries initiative.
The nuclear industry is expanding. Nuclear energy is growing — especially in Asia — as states are interested in developing nuclear energy as a baseload power source that can help address climate change and energy security concerns. Interest in research and applied nuclear science is also growing as benefits are recognized in the medical, industrial and agricultural fields. However, this growth confronts new types and sources of security risks, such as cyber-attacks and terrorism. These risks are not being adequately addressed. Domestic nuclear regulators have differing levels of experience and conflicting cultural norms, and no effective international oversight exists for security or safety. Meanwhile, the industry itself is faced with implementing complex and sometimes conflicting guidelines developed with limited industry input and a corresponding lack of commercial motivation. A new approach is needed.
The program researchers interviewed hundreds of industry stakeholders to identify their concerns and alternative approaches that could potentially address nuclear security challenges. The team engages governments, investors, lenders, operators, insurers/reinsurers and industry associations, and intergovernmental organizations. Areas of industry concern have been identified and possible approaches are being explored that create a business incentive for better nuclear security standards.
The program generates consensus going forward on the best way to build an industry-led, voluntary approach to nuclear security that will achieve benefits and reduce potential liabilities. The goal is to help build long-term sustainability into the promotion of operational excellence by facilitating the development of standards in critical areas of risk. These standards could include human-reliability assurance (e.g., integrated safety and security culture, insider threat mitigation), cybersecurity, and risk governance. Voluntary compliance with stakeholder-developed standards could assure financiers, insurers, regulators, and the public, while also providing a model of personal accountability for senior managers in industry.
The MacArthur Foundation, the Stanley Foundation, the World Institute for Nuclear Security, and the U.S. State Department Partnership for Nuclear Security.