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12 June 2023

King's academics publish the definitive book on nuclear security with Oxford University Press

With over 60 contributors spanning six continents, and coverage of historical, current and emerging issues, The Oxford Handbook of Nuclear Security brings the field of nuclear security to the fore in Security Studies

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Professor Christopher Hobbs and Dr Sarah Tzinieris from King’s College London, together with Professor Sukesh Aghara from the University of Massachusetts Lowell, have released a new book that spans the depth and breadth of the field of nuclear security. The Oxford Handbook of Nuclear Security is the first major academic publication on this emerging and understudied area of scholarship. Published by Oxford University Press, the volume contains 41 chapters, written by 63 authors (including more than 20 scholars linked to King’s), reflecting a vast array of empirical findings, theoretical developments and practical insights.

Professor Christopher Hobbs, Director of the King’s Institute for Applied Security Studies (KIASS) and one of the book’s editors, said ‘this publication sheds important light on a vital area of international security by taking a multidisciplinary approach to exploring its key dimensions and through inviting different international perspectives. It is the editors’ hope that the book will serve to both inform and stimulate new research into nuclear security.’

The spectre of nuclear terrorism has been at the forefront of the international security agenda for over two decades, driving an important evolution in how states and industry approach the security of nuclear and radioactive materials, coupled with tens of billions in investment. Yet despite such progress, there still exist imbalances and gaps that need to be addressed. Most obviously, there is considerable variation in how states approach nuclear security, with no single international legal mechanism to enforce compliance, while scant attention has been paid to fundamental issues such as the security of radiological sources or military nuclear materials.

As the first fully comprehensive study into this vital area of international security, The Oxford Handbook of Nuclear Security provides an in-depth exploration of historical, current and emerging aspects of nuclear security. Contemporary debates are highlighted, such as the fragmented nature of the global nuclear security regime, while future areas of focus as well as emerging challenges are examined. This includes a chapter on cyber threats which argues this phenomenon is likely to increase given recent trends and the digital transformation occurring in the nuclear sector. Two chapters focus on the maturing field of nuclear forensics, discussing its importance in both responding to nuclear security events and preventing future incidents. Another chapter looks at next generation reactors, exploring how nuclear security can be embedded into the evolutionary and innovative reactor designs (EID) under development and integrated with nuclear safety and safeguards – while the potential for open-source intelligence to support nuclear security efforts in the recovery of radiological sources is analysed in another chapter.

Due to the applied nature of nuclear security, the editors made the decision to involve authors not only from the academic community but also from industry – working directly at the ‘coal face’. The editors also endeavoured to throw the net wider than the more conventional North American and European geographical areas of scholarship, with several chapters focused on the experience of delivering nuclear security in countries as diverse as China, India, Nigeria, Russia, South Korea, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. Indeed, the unique global perspectives and academia-industry collaborations have been defining features of the book.

Dr Sarah Tzinieris, Research Fellow in the Centre for Science & Security Studies (CSSS), and another one of the book’s editors said, ‘The experience of working with so many authors from such diverse backgrounds and across so many geographies has been a recent highlight of my career. After myriad numbers of emails, video calls and other interactions with the authors, it’s wonderful to see their work finally go into print!’

Some of the chapters of The Oxford Handbook of Nuclear Security are already available online, while the hardcopy version of the complete volume will be available for purchase later in the year.

In this story

Wyn Bowen

Professor of Non-Proliferation and International Security

Christopher Hobbs

Director of the King’s Institute for Applied Security Studies

Zenobia  Homan

Research Fellow and Project Coordinator

Benjamin Kienzle

Reader in Security Cooperation

Julia Pearce

Reader in Social Psychology & Security Studies

Ross Peel

Research Fellow

Daniel Salisbury

Visiting Research Fellow

David Smith

Visiting Senior Research Fellow

Amelie Stoetzel

PhD student

Sarah Tzinieris

Research Fellow