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Consensus Study Report
Nuclear Terrorism: Assessment of U.S. Strategies to Prevent, Counter, and Respond to Weapons of Mass Destruction


For nearly eight decades, the world has been navigating the dangers of the nuclear age. Despite Cold War tensions and the rise of global terrorism, nuclear weapons have not been used in conflict since Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Efforts such as strategic deterrence, arms control and non-proliferation agreements, and the U.S.-led global counterterrorism have helped to keep nuclear incidents at bay. However, the nation's success to date in countering nuclear terrorism does not come with a guarantee, success often carries the risk that other challenges will siphon away attention and resources and can lead to the perception that the threat no longer exists.

This report found that U.S. efforts to counter nuclear or radiological terrorism are not keeping pace with the evolving threat landscape. The U.S. government should maintain a strategic focus and effort on combatting terrorism across the national security community in coordination with international partners, State, Local, Tribal and Territorial authorities, the National Laboratories, universities and colleges, and civil society. Developing and sustaining adequate nuclear incident response and recovery capabilities at the local and state levels will likely require significant new investments in resources and empowerment of local response from Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, and National Institutes of Health.


Suggested Citation

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2024. Nuclear Terrorism: Assessment of U.S. Strategies to Prevent, Counter, and Respond to Weapons of Mass Destruction. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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Publication Info

158 pages |  7 x 10 |  Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-309-70868-5

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