Report for American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Insider threats are perhaps the most serious challenges that nuclear security systems face. All of the cases of theft of nuclear materials where the circumstances of the theft are known were perpetrated either by insiders or with the help of insiders; given that the other cases involve bulk material stolen covertly without anyone being aware the material was missing, there is every reason to believe that they were perpetrated by insiders as well. Similarly, disgruntled workers from inside nuclear facilities have perpetrated many of the known incidents of nuclear sabotage. The most recent example of which we are aware is the apparent insider sabotage of a diesel generator at the San Onofre nuclear plant in the United States in 2012; the most spectacular was an incident three decades ago in which an insider placed explosives directly on the steel pressure vessel head of a nuclear reactor and then detonated them. While many such incidents, including the two just mentioned, appear to have been intended to send a message to management, not to spread radioactivity, they highlight the immense dangers that could arise from insiders with more malevolent intent. As it turns out, insiders perpetrate a large fraction of thefts from heavily guarded non-nuclear facilities as well. Yet organizations often find it difficult to understand and protect against insider threats. Why is this the case?
Bunn, Matthew, and Scott D. Sagan. "A Worst Practices Guide to Insider Threats: Lessons from Past Mistakes." Report for American Academy of Arts and Sciences, April 2014.