Nuclear Weapons | Analysis and New Insights

The Global Governance Architecture of Nuclear Security

Ramesh Thakur | March 2013


Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, nuclear security concerns have been heightened owing to several developments: fears that terrorist groups with cadres of suicide bombers not deterred by the thought of their own deaths are interested in acquiring nuclear weapons or radioactive and fissile material, or in attacking nuclear facilities; revelations of illicit trafficking in nuclear materials, components, and technology; unresolved security vulnerabilities at nuclear facilities in Russia and some other former Soviet republics; and several nuclear incidents in recent times.

In his visionary speech in Prague on April 5, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the start of “a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.” The justification was to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism, described as both the most immediate and extreme threat to global security.

In this brief by Ramesh Thakur, director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in the Crawford School of Public Policy at Australian National University, he first states the problem, then describes global governance of nuclear security. In the third part, he assesses the state of nuclear security governance against four global governance disconnects and offers recommendations for addressing them.