Nuclear Security Summit

April 12-13, 2010
Ottawa, Ontario
9 April 2010

On April 12 and 13, 2010, Barack Obama, President of the United States, will host a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. The Summit will bring together representatives from 47 countries, including all G-8 and G-20 members, to exchange views on the threat of nuclear terrorism and the pressing need to further develop and implement internationally-coordinated efforts to enhance nuclear security worldwide. Prime Minister Stephen Harper will lead Canada’s delegation.

The Nuclear Security Summit will produce several key outcomes: a common understanding of the nuclear terrorist threat, national commitments to strengthen the security of nuclear material and more effective international cooperation.

Nuclear Terrorist Threat

In a statement made on March 30, 2010, Prime Minister Harper noted the severity of the nuclear threat and its potential for devastating consequences: "There is much at stake. If nuclear proliferation leads to the use of nuclear weapons, whether by states or non-state actors, then no matter where the bombs are set off, the catastrophe will be felt around the world." Correspondingly, in a speech delivered in Prague on April 5, 2009, President Obama laid out a vision for a nuclear-free world and referred to nuclear terrorism as "the most immediate and extreme threat to global security." While it is difficult to quantify the likelihood of nuclear attack by extremist groups, large quantities of weapons-usable materials, such as highly-enriched uranium and separated plutonium, are present in both civilian and military nuclear facilities worldwide and terrorists have publicly expressed interest in acquiring these materials to create nuclear explosive devices. The first line of defence against nuclear terrorism is effective systems of physical protection to safeguard these materials and facilities from theft and sabotage. Preventing the illicit trafficking of nuclear materials through the provision of radiation detection equipment at borders, airports and seaports represents the second line of defence against nuclear terrorism.

Domestic Nuclear Security

As a result of a comprehensive review of Canada's nuclear security framework following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) ordered immediate action to increase security at major nuclear facilities. The following enhanced measures are now in place: immediate, on-site armed response available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; enhanced security screening of employees and contractors involving background, police and security checks; protection against forced vehicle penetration of a protected area with the addition of vehicle barriers; improved physical identification checks of personnel, using card access and biometric personnel identity verification devices; and searches of personnel and vehicles entering protected areas, using devices such as explosives detectors, X-ray screening and metal detection equipment.

Potential threats are being monitored constantly in close collaboration with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Public Safety Canada, licensees, international agencies and other regulators, especially the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

International Nuclear Security

Canada’s contributions to the Nuclear Security Summit will build upon its ongoing activities to improve nuclear security globally through the G-8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. This Partnership, intended to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and related materials, was launched by leaders at the 2002 G-8 Summit in Kananaskis to address the WMD problem, initially in Russia and other countries of the former Soviet Union. At the 2008 G8 Summit in Toyako, Japan, leaders recognized that the risks of WMD exist worldwide.

Canada’s participation in the Global Partnership, including its pledge of C$1 billion over 10 years, is managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade’s Global Partnership Program (GPP). To date, the GPP has spent more than $640 million of the $1 billion committed in 2002. This includes more than $330 million to enhance nuclear security in Russia and other countries in the region by improving the physical security of nuclear facilities and nuclear materials in transport, strengthening border capacities to prevent illicit nuclear trafficking, and dismantling decommissioned Russian nuclear submarines. The GPP is now beginning to expand its nuclear security activities worldwide.

Canada and the United States have a long history of successful cooperation in the area of nuclear security. Through the GPP, Canada has contributed approximately $28 million since 2004 to United States-led efforts to remove weapons-usable nuclear and radiological materials from insecure locations, shut down the last Russian nuclear reactor producing weapons-grade plutonium, and enhanced security at key border crossings in Ukraine. Working together, Canada and the United States have produced more concrete results with respect to preventing a terrorist act involving WMD materials than if either nation had acted alone. As more work remains to be done in this area, greater multilateral cooperation and increased coordination will be required to address the remaining risks posed by vulnerable WMD materials worldwide.

Related Links and News Items

For more information, please consult the following websites:


Country and Regional Information

G8 and G20 Members

Foreign Affairs and International Trade

Global Partnership Program

Other Government Departments and Agencies

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission

Treaties and Agreements

International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism

UN Security Council Resolution 1373 on Combating Terrorism
UN Security Council Resolution 1540 on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty*
Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT)*
Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)

Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response
Department of National Defence
Defence Research and Development Canada
Health Canada
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan)
Public Safety Canada
Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Non-Proliferation and Disarmament
International Crime and Terrorism

European Commission*
European Union
Indonesia *
Saudi Arabia*
South Africa*
South Korea*
United Kingdom
United States

(Country Fact Sheets HTML/PDF)

* In English only