The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 2001 by former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn and philanthropist Ted Turner in the United States, which works to prevent catastrophic attacks and accidents with weapons of mass destruction and disruption – nuclear, biological, radiological, chemical, and cyber.
UN Security Council Resolution 1887 supported the WINS mission, calling for states to “share best practices with a view to improved safety standards and nuclear security practices and raise standards of nuclear security to reduce the risk of nuclear terrorism.”
NTI has been engaged in developing, shaping, and implementing nuclear security projects. In addition to building global awareness, NTI engages in model programs to inspire private and governmental efforts toward nuclear, biological, and chemical threat reduction.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative serves as the Secretariat for the "Nuclear Security Project", in cooperation with the Hoover Institution. Former Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and former Senator Sam Nunn guide the project—an effort to galvanize global action to reduce urgent nuclear dangers and build support for reducing reliance on nuclear weapons, ultimately ending them as a threat to the world.
In 2002, NTI provided the additional $5 million of private money needed (combined with $3 million from the US government) to safely move 48 kg of highly enriched uranium (enough for two nuclear weapons) from the defunct Vinča nuclear reactor near Belgrade to a facility in the Russian Federation to be blended down for use as a conventional nuclear fuel.
In 2008, NTI helped create the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS), in Vienna, as part of its focus to secure nuclear materials worldwide. Today, the organization has more than 3,800 members from 118 countries. The Economist wrote, “WINS is a place where, for the first time, those with the practical responsibility for looking after nuclear materials—governments, power plant operators, laboratories, universities—can meet to swap ideas and develop best practices.”
In early 2018, NTI received a $6 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project. The grant will be used to "help strengthen its efforts to mitigate global biological threats that have increased as the world has become more interconnected." In January 2018 NTI announced that it had received $250,000 in support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. That money will help advance NTI's efforts in developing a "Global Health Security Index". The index would analyze a country's biological programs and policies.
The organization produced the 2005 film, Last Best Chance, which aired on HBO, and the 2010 documentary film Nuclear Tipping Point: which President Obama screened at the White House in April 2010.
NTI catalyzed the development of an international low-enriched uranium bank to back up the marketplace and prevent the proliferation of nuclear technology by ensuring that countries will have access to the fuel needed for peaceful purposes. NTI advisor Warren Buffett provided $50 million to jump-start the reserve, which will be owned and managed by the International Atomic Energy Agency and located in Kazakhstan.
NTI produces a biennial "Nuclear Security Index" in partnership with the Economist Intelligence Unit. The "NTI Index" benchmarks nuclear security conditions across 176 countries and holds governments accountable for properly securing dangerous nuclear materials. According to NTI, The NTI Index, now in its 3rd edition, is the premiere resource for political leaders, government officials, experts, academics, and the news media worldwide on nuclear materials security.
NTI has developed and released recommendations on securing and eliminating radiological sources used and stored at thousands of sites across more than 100 countries. These sources can be used by terrorists to build radiological “dirty bombs” that would incite mass panic, deny access, require extensive and expensive decontamination and have serious economic consequences. Many of these sources, which are used in industry and health-care settings, have minimal or no physical protection—and technological advances have made it possible to replace many of these sources with safer, effective alternatives.
NTI has received international recognition for work to improve biosecurity, primarily through creating disease surveillance networks. Whether a biological threat is natural or intentional, disease surveillance is a key step in rapid detection and response. Because the response of a health system in one country could have a direct and immediate impact on a neighboring country, or even continent, NTI developed projects that foster cooperation among public health officials across political and geographic boundaries. In 2003, NTI created the Middle East Consortium for Infectious Disease Surveillance (MECIDS) with participation from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority. Despite tensions in the region, MECIDS continues to share official health data and conduct infectious disease prevention training. NTI also created and nurtured Connecting Organizations for Disease Surveillance (CORDS), which in 2013 launched as independent NGO that links international disease surveillance networks, supported by the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Ernest J. Moniz has served as chief executive officer since June, 2017, and Joan Rohlfing serves as president. Co-chaired by Moniz, Nunn and Ted Turner, NTI is governed by an expert and influential Board of Directors with both current and emeritus members from the United States, Japan, India, Pakistan, China, Jordan, Sweden, France and the United Kingdom. They include:
Advisors to the Board of Directors include leading figures in science, business and international security. Advisors to the Board include:
NTI's staff includes experts in international affairs, nonproliferation, security and military issues, public health, medicine and communications, who have operational experience in their areas of specialty.