Nuclear Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation

Livermore’s Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation Program Helps the Nation Reduce the Nuclear Threat

Livermore scientists and engineers apply a weapons-design-centric approach to provide the U.S. government with defeat options for a broad range of nuclear threats in support of Laboratory missions.

Integrated Response Approach


Livermore’s Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation program uses a weapons-design-centric approach to counter threats. LLNL applies its core mission of ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile to the related mission of reducing nuclear threats.

Laboratory scientists and engineers leverage their first-hand knowledge of nuclear weapons design and operation to determine “what is possible” and convolve it with intelligence and other information to determine “what is probable.” The resulting product forms the Threat Consensus, an approach that maintains an agile technical response posture that takes into consideration both the hypothetical and that which is relevant to the immediate threat.

Threat Consensus is a unique approach to formulating mitigation options. As a nuclear weapons laboratory, LLNL understands the requirements needed to build and field a nuclear weapon, from simple to sophisticated. In addition, LLNL has technical operational assets that are stood up and deployed during national crisis to respond to nuclear threats. Our knowledge concerning the production and fielding of nuclear weapons makes LLNL one of the few national institutions that understands the entire spectrum of activities required to execute that mission. This knowledge allows the Laboratory to support a broad spectrum of U.S. government activities, including policies on nuclear materials protection, intelligence collection, techniques to detect and diagnose threats, and ways to influence and prevent functionality of nuclear weapons.

In short, Livermore’s innovative technical solutions, informed by decades of experience with nuclear weapons, are aimed at defeating a broad range of nuclear threats under a wide variety of scenarios.

Relationship to Livermore’s Mission

LLNL’s core mission is stockpile stewardship—assuring the safety, security, and reliability of the country’s nuclear arsenal. Livermore is also a national resource for anticipating and countering threats of nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation. The Laboratory provides technical expertise to federal stakeholders responding to a crisis; supplies technical information for policymakers and the intelligence community; and conducts research and development aimed at effective approaches to anticipate, analyze, and mitigate real and potential nuclear threats.