Understanding Radiological and Nuclear Threats

“There is a pressing need in international security policy to better understand the future landscape of radiological and nuclear (RN) dangers and how best to target resources to affect their reduction. The highly dynamic nature of the global geopolitical, social and technological environments means that there are many potential forces that might influence the magnitude of current RN dangers, especially those emanating from non-state actors like terrorists.” – START's RGND report

The Unconventional Weapon and Technology Division (UWT)  integrates a portfolio of research projects seeking to provide actionable knowledge about chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear (CBRN) and other emerging technology threats emanating from non-state actors.  The cutting-edge research presented below addresses the radiological and nuclear threat and focuses on the behavioral elements of terrorism involving the use of unconventional weapons.  This suite of projects is intended to better inform the larger policy and practitioner communities working in this complex issue.

Featured Items:

Research Portfolio

Failure Points in Smuggling Networks

Global Nuclear Detection Architecture: A Study of South Asia

Integration of International Architecture Analysis

International and Regional Architecture Reports

Integration of International Architecture Analysis

Mobile Radiation Detectors: Threat Perception and Device Acceptance

More Bang for the Buck?: Examining the Effect of Technological Change on Terrorist Use of Weapons of Mass Destruction

New Analytical Methods for the Exploitation of Open-Source Structured Databases to Enhance

Situational Awareness for Effective Counter-WMD Strategies

Organized and/or Transnational Crime/Drug Cartel Nexus with Illicit Radiological/Nuclear Trade, Smuggling and/or Terrorism in Europe and North, Sahelian and West Africa

Radiological/Nuclear Adversaries Future Project

Terrorists and Sophisticated Criminal Events Data Collection Project-Africa and Europe

Terrorist Groups and Weapons of Mass Destruction

The Threat of Pakistani Criminal Organizations: Assessing the Potential for Involvement in Radiological/Nuclear Smuggling, Collaboration with Terrorist Groups and the Potential to Destabilize the Pakistani State

Threat and Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (THIRA) Process

Data and Tools


Nuclear Facilities Attack Database (NuFAD)

Radiological and Nuclear Non-state Actor Database (RANNSAD)

Radiological/Nuclear Detection Capability Development Framework (CDF) Mapping Tool

Transnational Illicit Trafficking (TransIT) Geospatial Tool













Research Team

START Headquarters Researchers: Gary Ackerman  Brandon Behlendorf  Markus Binder  Salma Bouziani  Marcus Boyd  Cory Davenport  Michael Egnoto  James Halverson  Michelle Jacome  Mila Johns  Gary LaFree  Brooke Fisher Liu  Gabrielle Matuzsan  Amy Pate  Holly Roberts  John Sawyer  Steve Sin  Daniel Smith  Herbert Tinsley Jonathan Wilkenfeld  

Consortium Researchers: Victor Asal  Jeffrey Bale  Ronald Breiger  Laura Dugan  Emily Iarocci  Sharad Joshi  Brinton Milward  Elizabeth Petrun Sayers  R. Karl Rethemeyer  Tara Kirk Sell  Sarah Spalding  Joseph Young