Nuclear Weapons | Readout and Recommendations

Strengthening International Cooperation on Nuclear Materials Security by Nickolas Roth

Nickolas Roth | January 2015


Bilateral and multilateral cooperation play critical roles in ensuring that states keep nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials out of the hands of terrorists. However, there are major challenges ahead that require new and creative approaches to US nuclear security cooperation with Russia and China.

The conflict in Ukraine and broad political differences have caused Washington to cut off a range of military and civilian cooperative activities with Moscow while seeking to preserve arms control and nuclear security cooperation. Russia has also announced that it will not participate in the US-led 2016 Nuclear Security Summit.

In the case of Beijing, past US spying accusations, a shared view that the Washington should not be paying for security upgrades in a country with a strong and growing economy, and Chinese concerns about US experts visiting sensitive Chinese facilities have constrained the expansion of cooperation.

From October 15 to 17, 2014, the Stanley Center convened a group of experts and policymakers from the United States and abroad to address these issues at its 55th annual Strategy for Peace Conference. The group, chaired by Professor Matthew Bunn, discussed ways to overcome challenges to nuclear security cooperation faced by the United States, Russia, and China, and next steps to ensure that countries put in place effective and sustainable nuclear security measures with strong security cultures.

This policy dialogue brief, written by Nickolas Roth, offers a summary of the discussion and recommendations of roundtable participants.