NATO, Nuclear Security and the Terrorist Threat

Former Senator Sam Nunn, Nuclear Threat Initiative, June 25, 2007.

From Sam Nunn, the International Herald Tribune:  At Lisbon, NATO should state that: As long as U.S. tactical nuclear weapons remain deployed in Europe, all of NATO has a stake in their security; all of NATO also has a stake in the security of Russian tactical nuclear arms; and Russia has an equal stake in the security of NATO weapons as well as their own. The United States, NATO and Russia got in to this dilemma together; they need to get out together.

This security imperative should drive NATO and Russia to move without delay to adopt a series of steps that will improve the security of tactical nuclear weapons now, and pave the way for further consolidation, reduction and elimination of these weapons throughout the Euro-Atlantic zone.

These steps would be focused on security, transparency and confidence-building, and they should not require a new treaty or even a formal agreement.

These joint measures could include:

• A threat assessment, focused on how terrorists might seek to penetrate sites where tactical nuclear weapons are located and gain access to a nuclear bomb;

• A security assessment, focused on identifying necessary improvements in site security in light of the terrorist threat;

•A recovery exercise, where NATO and Russian forces would work together to recover nuclear material stolen by a terrorist group;

• A site visit to a NATO and Russian base where tactical nuclear weapons are located to encourage improved security and build confidence;

• A commitment not to locate tactical nuclear weapons with operational units in the field; and

• A declaration of the total number of tactical nuclear weapons located in the Euro-Atlantic region.

There is every reason for NATO and Russia to work together on these issues now — before a nuclear Munich.

Sam Nunn is co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and a former U.S. Senator from Georgia. (photo: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

Image: carnegie%2011%2017%2010%20Sam%20Nunn.jpg