Nuclear fuel cycle
Raw uranium goes through a series of steps to become enriched uranium, used to fuel either in a nuclear power plant or in a bomb. Here is a step-by-step introduction to the “nuclear fuel cycle.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency provides a detailed chronology of nonproliferation-related events, treaties and agreements.
International Atomic Energy Agency
A brief history of the IAEA, the multilateral agency charged with promoting the peaceful use of nuclear. As the world’s nuclear inspectorate, the IAEA safeguards civilian reactors to ensure they’re not being used for military purposes.
The Nonproliferation Treaty is the backbone of the global nonproliferation regime. For a quick summary of NPT basics, see this fact sheet.
In 1971, an informal group of states formed the Zangger Committee to institute export controls to keep nuclear material out of the wrong hands.
Nuclear Suppliers Group
After India—which was not party to the Nonproliferation Treaty—detonated a nuclear bomb during a 1974 test, several states joined the Zangger Committee to form the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which further regulates trade in dual-use technologies.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540
Passed in 2004, this resolution prohibited proliferation to “non-state actors”—terrorist groups—and required all nations to develop infrastructure to prevent such proliferation, including export controls and physical protection of sensitive facilities.
U.S. export controls
Export controls in the United States are administered and overseen by the departments of Commerce and Justice. Here are summaries of the most recent arrests and judgments in export-related cases.
Nuclear weapons free zones
Nuclear-weapons countries, such as the United States, agree not to use nuclear weapons against countries in these zones, which have committed not to build or acquire nuclear bombs.
The nuclear renaissance
The World Nuclear Association represents the global nuclear industry association and maintains an up-to-date list of nuclear reactors currently operating, under construction and in planning stages. It also offers a fact sheet on the nuclear renaissance.
Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
Under President Bush, the Department of Energy runs the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, meant in part to stem proliferation concerns related to an international nuclear renaissance. (Princeton professor Frank von Hippel is among the more vocal nonproliferation experts who criticize GNEP. Watch him argue his point here.)
IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database
The IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database records “proliferation-significant events”—those involving highly enriched uranium or plutonium—that have been reported to the IAEA by state governments.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative/Center for Nonproliferation Studies database compiles press reports related to smuggling of uranium, plutonium and other radioactive materials.
Arms Control Today
The publication of the Arms Control Association (ACA), a national nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to promoting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies.
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Global security news and analysis.
A journal put out by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
Global Security Newswire
Daily news on nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, terrorism and related issues from the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
The Nonproliferation Review
A journal concerned with the causes, consequences, and control of the spread of nuclear, chemical, biological, and conventional weapons by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
International Export Control Observer
Another journal from CNS that reports on weapons of mass destruction export controls in six regions of the world: the Newly Independent States (NIS), Asia, the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa, and South America.
Institute for Science and International Security Issue Briefs
A non-profit, non-partisan institution dedicated to informing the public about science and policy issues affecting international security. Its efforts focus on stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, bringing about greater transparency of nuclear activities worldwide, and achieving deep reductions in nuclear arsenals.