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U.S. Department of State

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Security by Design in the United States

Fact Sheet
Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation
March 22, 2012


Since the events of September 11, 2001, security requirements for nuclear facilities have increased primarily due to changes in the Design Basis Threat against which planned facilities are designed and existing physical security systems are tested. As a result, security costs and operational impacts have increased significantly because facilities originally were not designed with intrinsic security measures.

"Security by Design" Concept

"Security by Design" is a concept that incorporates security into all phases and aspects of facility design, construction, and operations. Successful “security by design” results in a more robust physical security infrastructure that:

  • Minimizes insider access to nuclear material and the opportunities for and risk associated with malicious acts (theft/diversion/sabotage),
  • Provides flexibility to respond to a changing threat environment,
  • Decreases operational security costs by reducing the reliance on the Protective Force,
  • Increases efficacy of Protective Force in the event of an attack.

Implementation of "Security by Design"

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) implements "security by design" in all planned facilities by including security personnel on integrated project teams for every construction project. Security is viewed from a life-cycle management perspective, ensuring that the facility is designed and constructed in a manner to ensure efficient and effective physical security operations. Early in the facility design phase, the design is tested against a spectrum of threats through vulnerability assessment and use of modeling and simulations tools. The design is modified to address any identified issues and subsequent design changes are evaluated in the same manner.

An Example of "Security by Design"

  • The Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) at the Y-12 National Security Complex is an excellent example of the "security by design" concept. HEUMF has an extremely robust physical security infrastructure that includes:
  • Outside perimeter walls sufficiently robust to provide significant delay in the event of an attack,
  • Interior features that allow Protective Force to engage the adversary both outside and inside the facility in a protected manner increasing their lethality and survivability,
  • Advanced detection and assessment capabilities that facilitate Protective Force tactical operations, and

The use of "security by design" at HEUMF resulted in an effective, efficient, and flexible security posture that facilitates operations with significantly decreased operational security costs.




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