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Policy Engagement


CSSS works with government officials and industry, in the UK and internationally, in order to both inform practice and gather original empirical data in support of research. Our work here largely focuses on reducing global nuclear risks in a world increasingly characterized by divergent threat perceptions, growing interstate rivalry, new technological advances and acts of unconventional terrorism. In this context CSSS staff work to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, support efforts to verifying nuclear disarmament, bolster the international nonproliferation regime and strengthen the implementation of export controls and sanctions. Further information on our impact related projects and activities can be found below. If you are a practitioner and you’d like to find out more about our work, then please get in touch with us at CSSS@kcl.ac.uk.
Brief summaries of on-going, recently completed and older projects are provided below.

International Nuclear Security Culture Programme

CSSS has led the implementation of the UK’s Nuclear Security Culture Programme (NSCP) since its inception in September 2014. The programme is managed by the UK’s Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and forms a key part of the government’s Global Nuclear Security Programme (GNSP). The NSCP seeks to strengthen nuclear security policies and practice around the world to mitigate threats to sensitive materials, information and systems by terrorist groups, organised crime, insiders and other adversaries. The NSCP is focused on exploring the concept of nuclear security culture and how this can be assessed and strengthened in various types of nuclear organisations and across different national contexts. Despite the existence of international guidance relating to nuclear security culture, this remains a relatively unexplored area of both theory and practice.

The NSCP is delivered in an academia-industry consortium, with our current partners including International Nuclear Services (INS) and Amport Risk. A range of activities are conducted under the programme, both within the UK and abroad in partnership with local stakeholders. These include bespoke training courses and workshops, the development of related educational resources, support for new academic programmes in the area of nuclear security, research into nuclear security implementation and direct support for efforts to self-assess and enhance nuclear security culture at individual organisations. Over the past five years more than thirty activities have been run under the NSCP, in nine countries. If you would like to learn more about this programme, please get in touch with us.

Assessing Security Culture in the UK Nuclear Industry

CSSS staff have worked with the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) as part of a pilot project focused on investigating the utility of different methodologies for assessing nuclear security culture. Globally, the human dimension of physical protection and other nuclear security systems is seen as increasingly vital, with past incidences highlighting how weaknesses in security implementation have been exploited by adversaries to steal materials and sabotage systems. Through a series of more than 40 in-depth interviews with employees across the NDA Estate, CSSS staff explored attitudes and behaviours in relation to security across different occupational groups. These provided detailed insights into not just what individuals thought about a certain security issue, but why they thought this way. This work is aimed at complementing and furthering existing efforts to assess nuclear security culture, for example, through use of the CPNI SeCuRE survey tool. For more information about this work please get in touch with Dr Christopher Hobbs.

Radiation Detection for Border Monitoring

CSSS are working with the International Atomic Energy Agency under a Coordinated Research Project, focused on improving the initial assessment of alarms from Radiation Portal Monitors (RPM). RPMs play an important role in bordering monitoring, through the large-scale scanning of people, vehicles and goods for the presence of undeclared nuclear or radiological materials. However, their use is complicated by rapid trade and migration flows and the large-scale presence of legitimate radioactive commodities in certain supply chains. A discussion of these and other challenges can be found in an article published by CSSS staff in The Nonproliferation Review.

Working in partnership with the Department of Informatics at KCL, CSSS have explored how the use of RPMs, within the maritime environment, could be improved through the integration of data science tools into the alarm assessment process. Initial results were presented at the International Nuclear Material Management INMM Annual Meeting in July 2019. An article containing full-project findings is currently under review by the journal Science & Global Security. For more information about this work please get in touch with Dr Christopher Hobbs.

Nuclear Warhead Dismantlement Verification

In partnership with the Norwegian Institute for Energy Technology, the Norwegian Radiation Protection Agency and the Atomic Weapons Establishment UK, CSSS staff undertook a project from 2013 to 2017 to explore how human factors at the operational level may influence efforts to verify the disarmament process. This research built on the technically focused work of the UK-Norway Initiative (UKNI) into nuclear weapon arms control and disarmament verification. Using tightly controlled simulations, it examined the influence of trust and confidence on disarmament verification judgements. The major results of this work can be found in Trust in Disarmament Verification, published by Palgrave MacMillan. For information about this work please get in touch with Dr Matthew Moran or Dr Hassan Elbahtimy.

Understanding and Countering Illicit Networks

CSSS staff are working to better understand illicit networks -- including those that smuggle WMD-related commodities and conventional arms -- to generate policy recommendations for governments to enhance efforts to counter them. In 2019 and 2020 Centre staff are implementing a project funded by the US government which seeks to learn from narco-trafficking networks and counternarcotics efforts to generate insights into countering illicit networks more broadly. This follows on from work considering the nature of WMD-related illicit procurement networks and arms trafficking networks published in the European Journal of International Security, Defence and Security Analysis and Contemporary Security Policy. For more information on these projects contact Dr Daniel Salisbury

International Perspectives on Deterrence and U.S. Nuclear Policy

CSSS are working with the U.S. Department of Energy to explore European reactions to U.S. disarmament and deterrence policies. Rising geopolitical tensions, strained alliance relationships, and institutional infighting within the NPT, among other developments, have reinvigorated discussions about the role of deterrence and disarmament in the global nuclear order. The conclusion of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in 2017, in particular, highlighted the polarisation within the global nuclear order and criticism of U.S. nuclear policy. Through a series of international workshops and Track II dialogues, CSSS aim to improve awareness of nuclear deterrence issues in Europe, promote better engagement between U.S. and NATO allies, and foster better-informed and more balanced public debate about the role of nuclear weapons in national and alliance strategies. The project results include practical approaches to disarmament not only for the United States but for all nuclear possessors, along with recommendations for strengthening alliances and rebuilding a culture of cooperation in the NPT. In addition, the project lead, Dr Heather Williams, serves as a non-governmental facilitator to the U.S. Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament (CEND) initiative. The project findings and research on international perspectives are fed directly back to U.S. decision-makers and allow for practical discussions with partners and allies about the way forward for nuclear disarmament. 

NPT Success in the ‘P5 Process’

In partnership with the European Leadership Network, CSSS is leading an innovative project funded by the U.K. Foreign & Commonwealth Office that seeks to identify potential opportunities and challenges for the P5 Process in advance of the 2020 P5 meeting and Non-Proliferation (NPT) Review Conference (RevCon). By bringing together leading government and non-governmental experts in Track 2 and Track 1.5 workshops, the project will develop a parallel process to official P5 meetings in order to explore ways to frame discussions of nuclear responsibilities, identify specific opportunities for P5 dialogue and cooperation in the NPT process, and deliver practical recommendations to ensure a successful P5 meeting and RevCon.

Archived Projects

From 2013 to 2015, with support from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CSSS convened a Next Generation Nuclear Dialogue between British and Chinese nuclear academics, researchers and practitioners. The project’s focus was to create and institutionalise a dialogue between, and amongst, young British and Chinese researchers in the field of nuclear arms control and strategic stability. The project ran for three cycles of meetings in China and the UK. The first two cycles were held in partnership with Renmin University of China. The Chinese leg of this year’s dialogue was held at the National University of Defense Technology (NUDT) in Changsha.

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