Matthew Bunn, William H. Tobey, Simon Saradzhyan on nuclear terrorism

The Special Senate Committee on Anti-terrorism
Special Senate Committee on Anti-Terrorism (Canada)
June 11, 2012
Testimony by: Matthew Bunn, co-principal investigator for the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom and a member of the Center Board of Directors; William H. Tobey, Belfer Center senior fellow; Simon Saradzhyan, Belfer Center fellow
Topic: Nuclear terrorism

Bunn: “I think there is more to be done to improve the security and tracking of those kinds of materials.  There are some countries that went into the radiological material business later than the United States did that have birth to death registries.  Every movement of a radiological source is tracked and accounted for and so on.  The United States does not have that today.  I think that is the kind of direction we need to go in.”

Tobey: “This threat is not hypothetical.  The International Atomic Energy Agency has documented some 18 cases of fissile material seized outside the control of governments.  Other cases have been reported subsequently, including several over the recent decade.  While none of the cases involved sufficient material to construct a nuclear bomb, they all demonstrated significant security breaches.”

Saradzhyan: “In terms of the current situation, the gravest threat ‑‑ I again concur with Mr. Bunn ‑‑ is the transfer of technology from state to state. They have proved they can do it in a clandestine manner that was not detected until the work was well under way in Syria, and they can try to do it again.  What were the consequences for North Korea after that was discovered?  What has happened that could have changed their behaviour?  I do not see anything particularly punishing out of that incident.”

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