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Pathway to the Bomb

The Threat

Q. What is the greatest security danger facing our nation?

A. The gravest danger in the world today is the threat from nuclear weapons. The likeliest use of these weapons is in terrorist hands.


The bipartisan 9/11 Commission reported that al Qaeda has been trying to acquire nuclear weapons for ten years and cited reports that bin Laden wants to carry out a "Hiroshima".


Q. How can we prevent terrorists from acquiring a nuclear weapon?

A. The most effective, least expensive way to prevent nuclear terrorism is to secure nuclear weapons and materials at the source – wherever they exist. Materials that can be used to make nuclear weapons are in hundreds of facilities in dozens of countries around the world. The United States and Russia have the largest stocks of these materials.


Acquiring weapons and materials is the hardest step for terrorists to take and the easiest step for us to stop. The materials needed to make a nuclear weapons - highly enriched uranium or plutonium - are very difficult for terrorists to manufacture, but may not be so hard to steal.


Because our security is only as good as the security at the least defended site, all nations must move quickly to improve the physical security and protection of all nuclear weapons and materials.


The U.S., Russia and all nations must accelerate their efforts and work together to lock down nuclear weapons materials – plutonium and highly enriched uranium.


Q. What can we do to speed up efforts to lock down unsecured stocks of nuclear weapons and materials around the world?

A. Appoint a high level official reporting directly to the President to coordinate and accelerate cooperative work around the globe to prevent a terrorist from acquiring weapons of mass destruction.


Accelerate work with Russia and provide rapid security upgrades to inadequately secured nuclear weapons and materials. At present, less than 50 percent of Russia’s nuclear materials have received cooperative, U.S. funded “rapid” security upgrades or more comprehensive upgrades. While they Bush Administration says they will accelerate this work, at the rate achieved in fiscal year 2004, it would take 18 years to complete this work. This dangerous gap deserves to be the top security priority of Presidents Bush and Putin, and they must cut through the obstacles in both bureaucracies to get the job done.


Accelerate and expand the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, which established a global cleanout program to remove nuclear materials – highly enriched uranium and plutonium – entirely from the world’s most insecure sites and improve security for nuclear materials around the world. There remains a dangerous gap between the pace of progress and the scope and urgency of the threat.





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