HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.

James R. Schlesinger Professor of the Practice of Energy, National Security, and Foreign Policy
Teresa and John Heinz Research Professor of Environmental Policy


The possibility that terrorists could acquire a nuclear weapon and explode it in a U.S. city is real. This would be a more difficult f eat than chemical or biological terrorism, but the massive, assured, instantaneous, and comprehensive destruction of life and property that would result may make this a priority for terrorists. While efforts to reduce the chances of this happening have been underway since long before last September 11 – and have recently been bolstered in some respects – the size and the speed of the U.S. and international response is not yet remotely commensurate with the magnitude of the threat. This report briefly reviews the dimensions of the danger and the efforts now underway to combat it, and then recommends seven sets of actions that ought to be undertaken immediately to bolster the barriers against this horrifying threat.


Bunn, Matthew, John P. Holdren, and Anthony Wier. "Securing Nuclear Weapons and Materials: Seven Steps for Immediate Action." Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard University and Nuclear Threat Initiative, May 2002.