New report looks at intrinsic changes to nuclear warheads

Experts agreed that constructing nuclear warheads out of fire- and shock-resistant materials could prevent accidental detonations but disagreed on whether other intrinsic changes to the construction of warheads would achieve similar results, according to a recent report.

The report summarized a workshop sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Union of Concerned Scientists in December. Specialists participated in an effort to brainstorm and find agreement on new measures that would make nuclear warheads more safe and secure.

All experts in attendance agreed that ensuring chemical weapons are secure is a "substantial issue," but there was disagreement on how to make them more secure.

The prospect of equipping warheads with self-destruction technology was one point of contention. Some experts argued that it would be difficult to detonate a stolen weapon in accordance with international standards. Others felt that such a measure would increase security and detract from the value of a stolen nuclear weapon.

Another expert in attendance suggested the implementation of technology that transmitted the location of a nuclear weapon that was moved from where it is supposed to be.

"There was broad agreement that the cyber security of nuclear command and control networks in the United States, Russia and other states is of critical importance and warrants attention," the report said. "However, the high level of classification inherent to nuclear command and control procedures makes it difficult to have an in-depth understating of the potential scope and severity of threats and of appropriate measures to counteract them."

The workshop was conducted under Chatham House Rule, which is designed to provide anonymity to participants in an effort to foster an open of exchange of ideas.