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What We're Doing To Prevent It


Photograph of FBI Exec John E. LewisIt's virtually unthinkable —a nuclear attack by terrorists. But to protect the nation, we have to think about it—to plan and prepare now...and more importantly, to take aggressive steps to help ensure that it never happens.

On 10/26, FBI Counterterrorism exec John Lewis testified on this subject before a House Subcommittee on Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attack.

His message? As the "lead law enforcement and investigative agency charged with responding to terrorist threats involving nuclear weapons or materials," we're absolutely committed to using the full range of our skills and resources to protect the country from the threat of nuclear terrorism. But we can't—and don't—do the job alone. We coordinate closely with a range of partners—including the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy—and draw on specific expertise from across government and even overseas.

A few examples of these partnered initiatives:

  • National and international efforts to "prevent terrorists from accessing, using, or smuggling nuclear weapons—or the materials needed (such as enriched uranium and plutonium) to construct" them—including through interagency nuclear smuggling focus groups, through our coordination with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at American ports, and by working with experts at the Department of Energy and national labs to obtain "rapid technical analysis" of suspect materials.
  • Initiatives between our 50+ overseas offices and our international partners to reduce and expose the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials worldwide. We teach classes on the subject, too.
  • Initiatives and incident response plans between our 56 field offices across the country and "security personnel at critical nuclear facilities." We also play a leadership role within the interagency Domestic Nuclear Detection Office charged with strengthening the nation's ability to detect the movement of illegal nuclear devices or fissile material.
  • In-depth assessments from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California to help us "determine the credibility of nuclear/radiological materials," including issues related to both the possession and potential use of such materials.
  • Four Department of Energy/FBI tabletop training exercises a year for state and local law enforcement and first responders to improve the government's emergency response capabilities.

There are plenty more details in the full testimony , and, given the importance of the threat of nuclear terrorism, we encourage everyone to take the time to read it.

As Mr. Lewis concludes, "We will do everything in our power to anticipate these threats and prevent them from becoming a reality."

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