Nuclear Weapons | Analysis and New Insights

The Quest for Nuclear Security Standards

Debra Decker and Kathryn Rauhut | February 2016


Growing nuclear energy demands along with the rising tide of violence and extremism call for innovative measures to strengthen the largely voluntary nuclear security regime. As the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit approaches, the international community has a rare opportunity to focus ministerial and industry attention on the importance of developing incentive-based nuclear security standards.

In this policy analysis brief, the Stimson Center’s Debra Decker and Kathryn Rauhut explore the question of what drives successful standards development and adoption, derive some lessons for these efforts in the nuclear industry, and make the business case for standards.

Decker and Rauhut call for industry leadership and ownership of a regional pilot effort that includes an integrated safety-security culture standard, a cybersecurity standard, and an export-compliance standard. They conclude that meeting nuclear security expectations through a transparent and documented process—to include standards and certifications—demonstrates a sustained, uniform, and international commitment to the viability of nuclear power now and in the decades to come.