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Nuclear Threats and Security Challenges

  • Apikyan S
  • Diamond D
ISSN: 18746500
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Since the early 1990s, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, has been reporting on the impact and efficiency of numerous federal programs—that have collectively cost U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars—to reduce the risks posed by vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials worldwide. GAO’s assessments have focused on, among other things, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Material Protection, Control and Accounting program in Russia and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative that has been implemented in more than 100 countries. More recently, GAO has assessed federal agencies’ efforts and strategies to implement the President’s initiative to secure all vulnerable material worldwide within a 4-year period. A significant and growing part of GAO’s portfolio, particularly after September 11, focuses on radiological material security, including federal preparedness for and response to a terrorist attack involving either a radiological dispersal device or improvised nuclear device attack in the United State s. An independent, nonpartisan agency, GAO’s mission is to support the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve the performance and ensure the accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. GAO provides the Congress with timely information that is objective, fact-based, nonpartisan, nonideological, fair, and balanced. Within GAO, the U.S. and International Nuclear Security and Cleanup mission group covers a wide range of nuclear issues that include nuclear nonproliferation; nuclear and radiological smuggling and terrorism; and special nuclear material production, consolidation, and storage. This paper provides an overview of the recent nuclear nonproliferation work that GAO has undertaken on behalf of the Congress, focusing on highlights of key reports, major findings, recommendations, and impact on federal agencies’ programs.




Apikyan, S., & Diamond, D. (2015). Nuclear Threats and Security Challenges. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series B: Physics and Biophysics (Vol. 74, pp. 3–11). Retrieved from

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