Jeffrey LewisSecuring the Bomb 2006

During Will Tobey’s confirmation hearing, Senator Levin asked the nominee for NNSA Deputy Administrator about Securing the Bomb 2006

SENATOR CARL LEVIN: Thank you. Mr. Tobey, last week the Nuclear Threat Initiative, NTI, issued its most recent Managing the Atom study reviewing the progress of actions taken to reduce the possibility that nuclear or radioactive materials or nuclear weapons would be stolen, and much has been accomplished, but the sites and large quantities of material remain unsecured.

I’d appreciate if you’d share your thoughts on how we address some of the problems highlighted in that report. For instance, the report states that two-thirds of the highly enriched uranium supplied by the United States to overseas research reactors is still not covered by agreements to take back the fuel and convert the reactors to safer, lower enriched uranium fuels.

Is it possible to increase the quantity of highly enriched uranium fuel subject to take-back agreements? And how would you go about that? Also—well, let’s start with that and any other comment you—are you familiar with that NTI report?

TOBEY: Yes, Senator, I am. I’m familiar with the report.

LEVIN: Can you just comment, perhaps, on that one recommendation and any of the other recommendations that they made as to how we can do better in terms of securing materials at the many sites that remain unsecured?

TOBEY: Sure. My understanding is that the—with respect to your specific question about the two-thirds of material not being covered by take-back agreements, that much of that material actually resides in France and Germany and is therefore a lower priority in terms of our concerns about its safety and security.

I should say, though, that it’s clear that preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is a complex and vital issue, and I expect there to be criticism and advice with respect to the job we’re doing to deal with the proliferation. It would be my intention, if confirmed, to try and use that criticism and advice to improve our efforts.

So I welcome the report. I intend to talk to the report’s authors. I have studied it over the weekend, because it just came out last week.

I would also note that from my reading of the report the three principal recommendations were to, one, launch a global coalition to prevent nuclear terrorism; two, forge effective global security standards; and three, accelerate removal of weapons’ usable material.

I think actually we’re doing much of what was encouraged in the report. For example, the initiative announced by Presidents Bush and Putin over the weekend I think will do much to accomplish the first two recommendations.

LEVIN: I think the chairman has asked you about that already. We appreciate that.

Click here for the full text of Bunn, Matthew and Anthony Wier. Securing the Bomb 2006. Washington, D.C.: Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard University, and Nuclear Threat Initiative, 13 July 2006.


  1. Max Postman (History)

    I was a little confused by Tobey’s reference to “the initiative announced by Bush and Putin over the weekend.” News sources say that work on nonproliferation at the G8 “fizzled” or floundered.” As far as I can tell, this is the “initiative” referred to so proudly by Tobey: “At the just-concluded summit of world powers, President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin promised continued discussions on the program.”

    Well, looks like our proliferation problems are over. Let’s pack it up and find something new to worry about.

  2. megatonone (History)

    links to “Securing The Bomb – 2006” are dead…just me or is this site prob?

  3. James (History)

    Tobey was likely referring to the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism:

  4. Anonymous (History)