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Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy

Containing the Threat of Loose Russian Nuclear Weapons and Fissile Material


What if the bomb that exploded in Oklahoma City or New York's World Trade Center had used 100 pounds of highly enriched uranium? The destruction would have been far more vast. This danger is not so remote: the recipe for making such a bomb is simple, and soon the ingredients might be easily attained. Thousands of nuclear weapons and hundreds of tons of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium from the weapons complex of the former Soviet Union, poorly guarded and poorly accounted for, could soon leak on to a vast emerging nuclear black market.This study by Graham Allison and three colleagues at Harvard's Center for Science and International Affairs warns that containing the leakage of nuclear materials--and keeping them out of the hands of groups hostile to the United States--is our nation's highest security priority.As the most open society on a shrinking planet, the United States has no reliable defense against smuggled weapons fashioned from black-market materials by a determined state or terrorist group. Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy highlights the fact that the only way to combat the threat is by preventing nuclear leakage in the first place. Its message is both timely and urgent: it outlines the new nuclear danger and details how to reshape U.S. national security policy to deal with these dangers.

About the Authors

Owen Coté is Associate Director of the MIT Security Studies Program and Editor of the journal International Security.

Graham Allison is Douglas Dillon Professor of Government and Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Steven E. Miller is director of the International Security Program at the Belfer Center.

Richard A. Falkenrath is Assistant Professor of Public Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. He served as Executive Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) and, before that, as a Research Fellow. He is the author and co-author of Shaping Europe's Military Order (1995), Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy (1996), America's Achilles' Heel: Nuclear, Biological, Chemical Terrorism and Covert Attack (1998), and numerous journal articles and chapters of edited volumes.


“"I cannot think of a more important book .... The time to read it is now." A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Times”
“"Expected to have a profound impact on the nuclear debate inWashington...the most extensive assessment yet of the nucleardangers in the post-cold war world." Financial Times”
“"Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy grapples with one of the most immediate and most pressing threats to U.S. security interests today: the risk of rampant nuclear proliferation fueled by 'nuclear leakage' from the former Soviet Union. There has never been a more important time for this analysis by some of our nation's leading national security specialists. This book deserves to be widely read and carefully considered." Senator Sam Nunn, Democrat, Georgia”
“" Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy ... makes a fundamental contributionto understanding and addressing the problems that have come from thebreak-up of the Soviet nuclear arsenal." Rose Gottemoller , Deputy Director, International Institute forStrategic Studies, London”