Nuclear Security

Nuclear terrorism remains one of the gravest threats to international security. Nuclear security, as defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), concerns measures aimed at the "prevention of, detection of, and response to, criminal or intentional unauthorized acts involving or directed at nuclear material, other radioactive material, associated facilities, or associated activities" (Objective and Essential Elements of a State's Nuclear Security Regime, IAEA Nuclear Security Series No. 20). In 2009, recognizing the urgent need to take action to address the threat of nuclear terrorism, U.S. President Obama launched the Nuclear Security Summit process through which a group of more than 50 countries has committed to various actions to strengthen the international nuclear security regime. While much has been done to enhance the global nuclear security architecture, more work is needed, particularly as the threat continues to evolve.

International law - comprised of rules, principles, guidelines, and institutional arrangements - is a fundamental instrument of nuclear security governance. On this page, you will find a number of publications, papers, and presentations by CCSL on the various aspects of the international legal framework applicable to nuclear security.

For more information, please contact Jonathan Herbach, a research fellow specializing in nuclear security and arms control law. ( 

Ten Years of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT): Strengths, Challenges and the Way Forward
J. Herbach and T. Erästö (SaferGlobe Finland), June 2016

More Work to Do: A Pathway for Future Progress on Strengthening Nuclear Security
Arms Control Today, no. 8, October 2015

The Strengthening Nuclear Security Implementation Initiative: Evolution, Status and Next Steps
Nuclear Security Governance Experts Group, October 2015

Report: An International Law Perspective on the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit

August 2014

Developing the International Law Framework to Better Address Cyber Threats: Role of Non-Binding Instruments

Paper presented at International Conference on Computer Security in a Nuclear World: Expert Discussion and Exchange
International Atomic Energy Agency
1-5 June 2015

Reinforcing the Three Pillars: How Nuclear Security Efforts Underwrite the Strength of the Non-Proliferation Regime
Paper presented at Fresh Ideas for the Future: Symposium on the NPT Nuclear Disarmament, Non-Proliferation, and Energy
Harvard Kennedy School, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs; James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies; the government of the Netherlands; and the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs
28 April 2015

The Nuclear Security Implementation Initiative: A Catalyst for Needed Action
Arms Control Today, no. 5, June 2014

Nuclear Security Summit preview: Promises alone won't keep radioactive sources safe
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 6 March 2014

From Agreement to Compliance: Building Confidence in the Nuclear Security Regime
Paper presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Institute of Nuclear Material Management
20-24 July 2014

Strengthening the International Legal Framework for Nuclear Security
Paper presented at the International Conference for Nuclear Security: Enhancing Global Efforts
International Atomic Energy Agency
1-5 July 2013

Presentation: Strengthening the International Legal Framework for Nuclear Security