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Foundation awards millions in research for enhanced nuclear security

Just a week ahead of a major international summit on nuclear security in Seoul, one of the largest private U.S. philanthropic organizations said it would award $13.4 million in grants to 16 organizations worldwide to help prevent nuclear terrorism and strengthen nuclear security.

The grants, announced by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, said much of the new funding will go towards training and support of an elite group of nuclear experts to make policy recommendations for preventing nuclear terrorism and enhancing nuclear non-proliferation. 

MacArthur Foundation is one of the largest private philanthropies based in the United States. It’s most well-known grant, the MacArthur Fellowship, also called the Genius Grant, is given every year to between 20 and 40 U.S. citizens or residents, of any age and working in any field, who "show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work."

However, the foundation said it has also been active in efforts to curtail weapons of mass destruction and making grants to reduce the dangers posed by weapons of mass destruction for more than 25 years. Early on, it said it supported research and track-two diplomacy between U.S. and Soviet policy experts and scientists, that helped facilitate nuclear arms control successes during the Cold War and laid the foundation for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  In the early 1990s, MacArthur grantees developed the conceptual framework for Cooperative Threat Reduction programs that helped Russia and other former Soviet states reduce stockpiles and secure nuclear weapons and fissile materials.

 “Despite all the attention given to nuclear hot spots like Iran and North Korea, interest in and action on improving nuclear safety and security remains tepid worldwide,” said Robert Gallucci, president of the MacArthur Foundation.  “MacArthur’s grantmaking aims to support the people and institutions that can provide us with the research and know-how needed to keep nuclear energy safe and fissile materials out of dangerous hands.” 


Grant recipients:


  • Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs received $2.48 million to support the Project on Managing the Atom, which trains the next generation of nuclear security policy experts, conducts policy research and analysis and informs the public and policymakers on nuclear issues.


  • Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation was awarded $2.45 million.  The bulk of this support, $2 million, will help the Center to train future nuclear security policy experts.  Additional projects aim to significantly reduce the danger of fissile materials being stolen or diverted from Russia’s nuclear complex, as well as encourage scientific cooperation between U.S. and Chinese scientists to enhance nuclear security in Chinese military and civilian nuclear programs.


  • The Center for Science and Security Studies at King’s College London received $1.65 million to train future nuclear experts.


  • The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace received $1.3 million for work to dissuade countries from reprocessing and other dangerous fuel strategies, as well as to study the impact of high-precision conventional munitions on nuclear deterrence and strategic stability.



  • The Nuclear Threat Initiative received $1 million, mostly for its Nuclear Materials Security Index—a first-of-its-kind public benchmarking project of nuclear materials security conditions on a country-by-country basis, which seeks to encourage governments to take actions to reduce risks.


  • Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security was awarded $980,000 to discourage nuclear fuel reprocessing, support the minimization of highly-enriched fuel in Russia, and assess the proliferation risks of the small modular reactors being advocated by the nuclear industry.


  • The Center for International and Security Studies at the University of Maryland was awarded $900,000 to assess how expanded global use of nuclear energy would affect the risks of proliferation and nuclear terrorism and to share information about policy choices that the U.S. and China can take to reduce nuclear risks associated with energy transformation.


  • The Nautilus Institute received a grant of $600,000 to examine how the risks associated with potential terrorist attacks on nuclear power facilities might be reduced by fuel disposal and management measures.  Nautilus will examine the implications of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in Japan and make policy recommendations on power plant design.


  • With its $500,000 grant, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute will evaluate the implications of new military technologies for national nuclear force postures and deterrence strategies.


  • The Center for Energy and Security Studies will use its $400,000 grant to identify next steps for Russia to address the nuclear terrorism challenge and ensure the security of material domestically and worldwide.


  • A $300,000 grant will help the Institute for Science and International Security develop new options for the tough proliferation cases like Iran and North Korea, detect and thwart illicit nuclear trade, monitor proliferation in South Asia, and shape the reporting of proliferation-related news and disseminate findings.


  • A $280,000 grant will support the Global Nuclear Future initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and its research into the susceptibility of nuclear facilities and industries to insider threats.


  • The School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University received $270,000 to support the U.S. Korea Institute, which tracks relations with Korea, especially pertaining to nuclear issues.


  • The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists received $125,000 for the Leadership and the Future of Nuclear Energy conference and publishing program, in collaboration with the University of Chicago, with the aim of recommending measures to prevent weapons proliferation from civilian nuclear fuel cycles.
  • The Gulf/2000 Project at Columbia University will use its $100,000 grant to educate and inform experts on developments in the Persian Gulf, including Iran’s nuclear aspirations.


  • The Connect U.S. Fund received $100,000 to help increase public awareness of and attention to the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul and the general importance of nuclear security.



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