Prevent, Counter, and Respond—A Strategic Plan to Reduce Global Nuclear Threats (NPCR)

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2018-2023 NPCR report cover

The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) Fiscal Year 2019 Prevent, Counter, and Respond – A Strategic Plan to Reduce Global Nuclear Threats – Biennial Plan Summary (NPCR) describes DOE/NNSA’s plans and programs to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, counter the threat of nuclear terrorism, and respond to nuclear and radiological incidents around the world. The NPCR is a companion to the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan, which outlines DOE/NNSA’s plans to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile and to maintain the scientific and engineering tools, capabilities, and infrastructure that underpin the nuclear security enterprise. In keeping with our commitment to transparency, updated versions of these reports are published each year.

The recently released Nuclear Posture Review (DoD 2018) reaffirmed the critical role of the nuclear deterrent in maintaining both U.S. national and global security, while also stressing the vital role of nuclear nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and counterterrorism. Maintaining a safe, secure, and effective U.S. nuclear stockpile and reducing global nuclear threats are closely related and mutually reinforcing priorities. The facilities and scientific knowledge that underpin stockpile stewardship, for example, are harnessed for a range of nonproliferation and counterterrorism missions, from assessing foreign weapons programs and potential terrorist devices to managing the potential proliferation risks associated with global civil nuclear development. Preventing the spread of nuclear weapons around the world yields considerable benefits for the U.S. nuclear posture. Limiting the number of nuclear-capable states and preventing terrorist access to materials and technology that can threaten the United States and its allies enhances global stability and constrains the range of potential threats facing the Nation.

DOE/NNSA’s plans and programs encompass both unilateral initiatives as well as cooperative efforts with partner nations, when appropriate. In both environments, DOE/NNSA provides the technical and policy expertise across the entire nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear weapons development spectrum in order to support diplomatic, informational, military, and economic actions to secure the United States and defend against weapons of mass destruction.

The FY 2019 edition of Prevent, Counter, and Respond updates last year’s report, focusing on major changes in the threat environment and in DOE/NNSA’s nuclear and radiological threat reduction programs. These developments, such as continued concerns over Iran’s nuclear aims, constitute a very serious challenge to the global nuclear nonproliferation regime, as well as incident preparedness and response planning. Other key developments in the threat environment include the persistence of terrorist threats in Europe and the United States, increasingly frequent and sophisticated cyberattacks, and the emergence of new and potentially proliferation-relevant technologies.

In short, the complex and demanding geopolitical challenges we face are a constant reminder that we must maintain vigilance in our nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and counterterrorism efforts. DOE/NNSA is committed to countering efforts to acquire, transfer, or use nuclear weapons-related technologies, materials, or expertise; responding to nuclear and radiological incidents around the world; countering the threat of nuclear terrorism; and seeking verifiable and enforceable arms control agreements that enhance global security. This report describes DOE/NNSA’s role in meeting these objectives.