“As long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must invest the resources necessary to maintain—without testing—a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent that preserves strategic stability.”  U.S. National Security Strategy, February, 2015

“No threat poses as grave a danger to our security and well-being as the potential use of nuclear weapons and materials by irresponsible states or terrorists.”  U.S. National Security Strategy, February, 2015

A nuclear attack that devastates one of the great cities of the world is unthinkable.  Unfortunately, as the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up.  In contrast to the Cold War nuclear landscape, 21st Century threats include the potential for a pre-emptive attack on critical infrastructure; a limited nuclear exchange, likely from escalation of conventional war; nuclear acquisition and use by non-state terrorists; conventional war in a nuclear environment, and the increased probability of some level of nuclear exchange due to proliferation.

Working to prevent the unthinkable is one of the priority missions of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.  As both a Defense Agency and Combat Support Agency, DTRA delivers advanced technologies to support the combatant commands, services and other customers.  Tracing our historical roots to the Manhattan Project, DTRA has unique technical expertise to support Department of Defense efforts to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.  In addition to supporting the U.S. nuclear deterrent, DTRA is advancing the technologies and creating the tools that can find nuclear weapons and materials long before they can harm our warfighters, our allies and partners, and the United States.

Nuclear Detection

DTRA develops nuclear detection technologies that work on land, on the sea and in the air. We’re producing handheld detectors that are rugged, reliable and easy to use, and developing detection techniques in order to locate, characterize and track low-yield nuclear tests, materials and nuclear weapons in the hands of adversaries.

Nuclear Forensics

We also develop technologies to detect, characterize, and attribute nuclear explosions.  DTRA is leading a government-wide effort to field sensor arrays which can be deployed to capture the distinct signatures inherent in nuclear weapons.  Combined with advanced analytical techniques, these technologies are improving our nation’s technical nuclear forensics capabilities.  

Nuclear Weapons Effects

Our scientists and engineers develop models and planning tools that accurately predict direct effects from a nuclear explosion, as well as their second and third order consequences to support the full-range of Presidential strategic deterrence options.



Nuclear Survivability

Our researchers and military experts develop nuclear survivability standards and handbooks that define nuclear environments and mitigation strategies; hardening technologies to protect our equipment and infrastructure from radiation environments and damaging electromagnetic pulse; as well as test, assessment and analysis capabilities for medical planning and to ensure that mission critical systems can survive and operate in a nuclear environment.