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Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism
Detection and interdiction, using technology and intelligence, of weapons and SNM moved across national borders, especially Russian and U.S. borders;
Detection of weapon or IND movements inside the United States;
Effective responses to nuclear and radiological attacks if they do occur; and
Attribution to identify weapons and/or SNM characteristics and sources of origin.
Such a system must be structured to overcome the political inertia that inevitably develops over time and that can lead to a slackening of effort. A good example of such inertia is the federal government’s reduced willingness to provide funding during the last decade to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for air marshals to guard commercial flights against hijackers. It appears that the FAA’s effectiveness in reducing airline hijackings through the 1980s led to a perception that the risk of hijacking no longer existed.
Protection, Control, and Accounting of Nuclear Weapons and Special Nuclear Material
Nuclear weapons and SNM can be most effectively protected, controlled, and accounted for at their sources, which are relatively few in number compared with the many potential points of transit across national borders and are protected by state-run security infrastructures. Therefore, the first line of homeland defense against nuclear and radiological terrorism is a robust system for protecting, controlling, and accounting for nuclear weapons and SNM at their sources.
Technology for weapons and SNM protection, control, and accounting already exists and has been deployed in many nuclear countries. The impediments to more widespread deployment of these technologies in nuclear weapons and SNM states include cultural differences over what constitutes workable and acceptable technologies; funding for procurement, training, and security screening of the necessary personnel; and the willingness of states to accept and deploy such systems.
Of particular concern is the deployment of these systems in Russia, which possesses large stockpiles of weapons and SNM, and Pakistan, whose weapons are controlled in a fashion that may be unpredictable, especially given the potentially unstable governmental situation. The United States can—and should—engage nuclear weapons states, states possessing SNM, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in bilateral and multilateral discussions aimed at improving the protection, control of, and accounting for weapons and SNM. To this end, the following four actions should be taken:
Recommendation 2.1: The U.S. government, working through the Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and Department of State, should