U.S. Military Nuclear Material Unaccounted For: Missing in Action or Just Sloppy Practices?

By March 19, 2014

The United States has the gold standard when it comes to accounting for fissile materials especially in the military sector. Yet, for more than 30 years, government reports have sounded the alarm that the accounting system for these materials is not adequate. The United States is still not meeting its most stringent standards. If the nuclear material accounting system is not adequate, what does it imply for nuclear-armed states that are still manufacturing and remanufacturing warheads more frequently than the United States?

FAS President Dr. Charles Ferguson examines missing U.S. nuclear fissile materials in a chapter of the new book Nuclear Weapons Materials Gone Missing: What Does History Teach? (published by the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center.) The chapter examines incidents of missing materials (such as missing highly enriched uranium from the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corporation in Pennsylvania from the 1960s) and provides an overview of U.S. military control and accounting systems and recommendations on how to improve these systems.

Read the chapter here (PDF).

Categories: Fissile Materials, Nuclear Weapons, security