Following is a synthesis of the key findings and recommendations in each of the nine areas examined by the committee.
Science and technology are essential ingredients of a multilayered systems approach for defending the United States against terrorist attacks involving stolen nuclear weapons, improvised nuclear devices, and radiological dispersion devices. The first line of homeland defense is robust systems for the protection, control, and accounting of nuclear weapons and special nuclear material at their sources. The United States has made a good start on deploying such systems in Russia, which possesses large stockpiles of weapons and special nuclear material, but cooperative efforts must be pursued with new urgency. The United States should accelerate its bilateral materials protection, control, and accounting program in Russia to safeguard small nuclear warheads and special nuclear materials, particularly highly enriched uranium. The United States also should increase the priority and pace of cooperative efforts with Russia to safeguard its highly enriched uranium by blending down this material to an intermediate enrichment of less than 20 percent U-235 as soon as possible.
Systems to detect the movement of illicit weapons and materials could be most effectively deployed at a limited number of strategic transportation choke points such as critical border transit points in countries like Russia, major global cargo-container ports, major U.S. airports, and major pinch points in the U.S. interstate highway system. A focused and coordinated near-term effort should be made to evaluate and improve the efficacy of special nuclear material detection systems that could be deployed at strategic choke points for homeland defense. Research and development (R&D) support also should be provided for improving the technological capabilities of special nuclear material detection systems, especially for detecting highly enriched uranium.
Responses to nuclear and radiological attacks fall into two distinct categories that could require very different types of governmental actions: attacks involving the detonation of a nuclear weapon or improvised nuclear device, and attacks involving radiological dispersion devices. Planning has been minimal at the federal or local levels for responding to either class of attack. Immediate steps should be taken to update the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan or to develop a separate plan, to respond to nuclear and radiological terrorist attacks, especially an attack with a nuclear weapon on a U.S. city.
As the history of the Cold War shows, the most effective defense against attacks with nuclear weapons is a policy of nuclear retaliation, but retaliation requires that the perpetrator of an attack be definitively identified. The technology for developing the needed attribution capability exists but has to be assembled, an effort that is now under way by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency