Category Archives: Nuclear Security

Nuclear Romanticism VS Nuclear Realism

 We’re at the end of the second week of the NPT RevCon and amid the plethora of words Ward Wilson, a friend of Atomic Reporters, poses a question so fundamental that the conference is unlikely to address it: what is the utility of nuclear weapons?
Wilson’s argument is that if indeed we are wedded to warfare – and history past and present seems to bear it out –  nuclear weapons are not the right tools for the job, as technologically appropriate as taking a sledge hammer to repair a watch. Read How nuclear “realists” falsely framed the nuclear weapons debate on the pages of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

NPT PrepCom updates

The third NPT Preparatory Committee  (PrepCom) is underway in New York, and Tariq Rauf, Director of SIPRI’s Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme, and Atomic Reporters Director, has been filing daily assessments. Synopses of the first three days can be read on SIPRI’s website:

The NPT PrepCom opens, and past and present European leaders warn of risk of serious damage to nuclear non-proliferation

The third Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) opened at the United Nations in New York on Monday 28 April.

Among interventions Atomic Reporters may find this statement from fifty serving and former senior European Leaders, including from Russia, of significance.  As the Ukraine standoff rolls into May it offers a road map for strengthening nuclear non-proliferation and warns of serious damage if necessary steps are not taken.

Group Statement Ahead of PrepCom_General Press Release2

‘…disarmament in its classic “meaning” is more and more of the past’

Atomic Reporters readers may have missed this announcement earlier in April from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs:


Regarding a structural change in the headquarters of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs


On the 3 April, a structural change was made to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Department for Security Affairs and Disarmament (DSAD) was abrogated. A Department for Non-Proliferation and Arms Control (DNPAC) was created on the basis of it instead.

This change is related to the fact that a significant extension of functions and the area of responsibility of this structural unit has taken place during the last few years.

Now it is more important that in the work this department is dealing with, issues of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and arms control come to the fore more and more noticeably, while disarmament in its classic “meaning” is more and more of the past.

4 April 2014

The Non Proliferation Treaty in Middle Age

The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has had a rocky history since its inception in 1970; nuclear weapons holders are loathe to give up or further reduce their historical stockpiles, while some non-nuclear weapons states believe that arming themselves is vital for their policies of regional deterrence.  Tariq Rauf of SIPRI and an Atomic Reporters Director discusses the upcoming NPT Review Preparatory Comittee (PrepCom), future aspects of the Treaty, the military dimension of the NPT, and the possibility of a Middle Eastern zone free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in the following video:

Dirty Bombs & Nuclear Security: NSS Time

Data via Google Ngram
Data via Google Ngram

The 3rd Nuclear Security Summit kicks off in the Hague March 24. The final communique is expected to be released about 4:00 p.m. on March 25. While most reporters congregating at the event will do so in anticipation of a G7 meeting (minus Russia), Atomic Reporters may still glean insight on the state of today’s nuclear-security debate (key words Rokkasho & Ukraine).

Nuclear security has experienced a renaissance since the 1990s, when the U.S.-Russian Cooperative Threat Reduction program managed to remove and/or secure fissile materials from former Soviet countries. Following September 11, 2001, security discussions tended to focus on re-purposed nuclear material for a “dirty bomb.” The conversation about nuclear safety, which shares a silo with security at the IAEA, fell softer for more than a decade leading to 2008, the last year of our data.

How do we know this? We’re testing our experiences and memories against Google computational linguistics. The company’s Ngram tool looks for word patterns among 5.2 million books scanned by the company up until 2008. Sometimes its a helpful tool to gauge how technical conversations develop over time.

Of course, most of the time as a journalist, it’s easier to simply pick up the phone and talk with an expert. That’s why we’re pleased to post the Fissile Materials Working Group’s offer of nuclear-security experts available to journalists:


See you in the Hague.

Business as Usual


CHICAGO — January 14, 2014 — The Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists today called on the United States and Russia to restart negotiations on reducing their nuclear arsenals, to lower alert levels for their nuclear weapons, and to scrap their missile defense programs.

The Board also implored world leaders to take immediate action to combat climate change as it announced that the minute hand of the Bulletin’s iconic Doomsday Clock will remain at five minutes to midnight because “the risk of civilization-threatening technological catastrophe remains high.”

Continue reading Business as Usual