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Leaders and personnel of organizations within the nuclear enterprise execute the authorities given to them through a variety of guidance documents and numerous processes. The most fundamental are the constitutionally granted authorities executed through Executive Branch and Legislative Branch processes. Nationallevel and departmental-level processes provide the overarching direction to DoD and DOE, supplemented by guidance issued from DoD, Military Departments, DoD agencies, and DOE/NNSA via instructions, directives, military standards, memoranda, policy documents, orders, etc. The discussion on authorities in this chapter is not all-inclusive, but provides an overview of the essential authorities governing the nuclear enterprise.

National Guidance

The President executes authority through the Executive Branch by issuing Executive Orders (EOs), directives, memoranda, and letters. The guidance remains in effect throughout an administration and continues in the next administration unless modified, revoked, or superseded. Guidance documents are identified in Figure 17.1.

Document Identifying Feature
Executive Order Number
Directive Number
Memorandum Subject
Letter Subject
Figure 17.1 Guidance Documents

For directives, administrations may use different naming conventions, for example:

  • Clinton Administration – Presidential Decision Directive (PDD)
  • Bush Administration – National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) and Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD)
  • Obama Administration – Presidential Policy Directive (PPD)
  • Trump Administration – National Security Presidential Memorandum (NSPM)

Usually early in a given administration, the functioning and relationship of the President’s cabinet is articulated in the first presidential authoritative document. President Trump accomplished this with NSPM-4, Organization of the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and subcommittees in April 2017. Administrations also seek to establish a National Security Strategy (NSS) from which the department heads and other leaders craft their respective department strategies with regard to national security.

Congress executes authority through laws and regulations. Laws remain in effect unless amended, revoked, superseded, or in some rare cases reach a designated expiration.

Treaties (including international agreements, protocols, covenants, conventions, pacts, or exchange of memoranda) establish authorities affecting the nuclear enterprise. The Executive Branch negotiates and signs a treaty. The Senate must ratify the treaty (and the treaty must enter into force) before it becomes legally binding on the United States. A treaty is an agreement under international law and is not U.S. domestic law.

Departmental Guidance

Individual departments and agencies have a wide variance of processes through which the respective departmental leaders execute the authorities provided by the national level. The most influential document governing DoD today is the 2018 National Defense Strategy which is used to establish the objectives for military planning regarding force structure, force modernization, business processes, supporting infrastructure, and required resources (funding and manpower). The Department of Energy uses DOE Orders (DOE O) to promulgate guidance.

Authoritative Documents

Throughout the 2020 Nuclear Matters Handbook authoritative documents that govern and shape the nuclear enterprise are referenced. Most of this governance comes in the way of issuances (directives, instructions, manuals), orders, strategies, plans, reports, requirements, memoranda of agreement/understanding, etc. Figure 17.2 lists and describes the governing documents referenced in this handbook.

Title Typed Description
U.S. Nuclear Deterrent
National Security Strategy National Outlines the administration policies for handling the major national security concerns of the United States. 2017 NSS is organized around four pillars—protect the homeland, protect American prosperity, preserve peace through strength, and advance American influence—guided by a return to principled realism.
National Defense
DoD Translates the overarching themes from the NSS into
broad military guidance for planning, strategy, force
posture and modernization, and other Department-wide
Nuclear Posture Review DoD Primary policy document of the U.S. nuclear enterprise.
NPR describes the security environment, the roles
and types of nuclear weapons the U.S. should field,
and technical requirements to support the nuclear
Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications
JP 6-0, Joint Communications System DoD Keystone document for communications system support to joint operations, providing guidelines to commanders regarding information systems and networks. Includes a section on the Nuclear Command and Control System.
Nuclear Weapons Stockpile
Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Plan DoD-DOE, signed by POTUS Identifies long-term planning considerations affecting the nuclear weapons stockpile..
Requirements Planning
NWC Long-term planning document, covering 25 years of stockpile management. Aligns weapon system modernization plans with delivery systems and platform schedules, and outlines investments for renovating nuclear security enterprise nfrastructure.
Nuclear Weapon Deployment Authorization DoD, signed by POTUS Yearly presidential directive officially authorizing the Secretary of Defense to deploy nuclear weapons in accordance with policy and programming decisions.
FY1994 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Law Prohibits any allocation of funding for explosive nuclear testing, codifying the end of testing in law.
Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan NNSA Describes NNSA plans to ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile and to maintain the scientific and engineering tools, capabilities, and infrastructure that underpin the nuclear security enterprise.
FY2017 NDAA Law Reorganizes the former USD(AT&L); this increased the number of voting members of the NWC from five to six, as the USD(A&S) inherited the chair and the Under Secretary for Research and Engineering became a voting member.
1946 Atomic Energy Act Law Foundational legislation of the U.S. nuclear enterprise creating the Atomic Energy Commission, the predecessor of DOE, in order to put U.S. nuclear weapons research and development outside the immediate control of the military. Established several national laboratories, research into nuclear power and
peaceful uses of nuclear weapons, and governed the classification of nuclear weapons information.
1953 Agreement Between the Atomic Energy Commission and the DoD for the Development, Production, and Standardization of Atomic Weapons Agreement Follow-on agreement to the Atomic Energy Act that specified and divided basic departmental responsibilities between the AEC and DoD.
1983 Memorandum of Understanding, DoDDOE Departmental MOU Reaffirms the obligation of DoD and DOE to protect public health and safety; provides the basic premise for dual-agency judgment and responsibility for safety, security, and control of nuclear weapons.
Title 10 USC, §179 Nuclear Weapons Council Law Establishes the NWC, and defines its membership, responsibilities, budgeting, and staffing.
1988 Memorandum of Understanding, DoDDOE Departmental MOU Provides the details on the establishment and implementation of the NWC.
Operational Plans, Requirements Documents DoD Combatant Command, Military, and other DoD plans and documents establishing and setting forth nuclear operations and requirements.
Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Memorandum NWC, signed by SecDef and SECENG Joint memorandum signed by the Secretaries of Defense and Energy. Includes a proposed five-year table of stockpile quantities as well as specific policies, military requirements, joint DoD-NNSA planning factors.
CJCSI 5123.01H, Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System (JCIDS) DoD Assesses joint military capabilities and identifies gaps in those capabilities to fill. Nuclear weapons are not governed by JCIDS, but capability requirements for related systems (delivery platforms, command and control, etc.) are.
DoDD 5000.01, The Defense Acquisition System DoD Governs the management process by which DoD provides effective, affordable, and timely aquisition to users. Commonly referred to as “The 5000 Process,” this system is managed by the USD(A&S) as the primary process for transforming validated capability requirements into materiel capability solutions.
DoDI 5000.02, Operation of the Defense Acquisition System DoD Outlines the procedures to navigate the 5000 Process. Capability requirement documents created through the JCIDS provide the critical link between validated capability requirements and the acquisition of materiel capability solutions through the five major 5000 Process phases: 1) Materiel Solution Analysis; 2) Technology Maturation and Risk Reduction; 3) Engineering and Manufacturing Development; 4) Production and Deployment; and 5) Operations and Support.
DoDM 5030.55, DoD Procedures for Joint DoD-DOE Nuclear Weapons Life-Cycle Activities DoD Implements DoD acquisition processes and procedures as they apply to joint DoD-NNSA nuclear weapon development, production, sustainment, and retirement activities (including studies) and as it applies to refurbishment guidelines issued by the NWC.
Procedural Guidelines for the Phase 6.X Process DoD NWC procedures related to the maintenance and sustainment of the existing weapons in the legacy stockpile and oversight of the stockpile sustainment activities in the absence of nuclear explosive testing.
FY2013 NDAA (Pub. L. 112-239) Law Requires NWC to submit reports to Congressional defense committees before proceeding beyond phase 6.2 activities with respect to any lifetime extension program to include an assessment of the lifetime extension options considered for the phase 6.2 activities and an assessment of the option selected for the phase 6.2 activities.
Nuclear Weapons Council
FY1985 NDAA (Pub. L. 98-525) Law Directs the President to establish a Blue Ribbon Task Group to examine nuclear stockpile funding and governance issues between DoD and DOE. Eventually resulted in the creation of the Nuclear Weapons Council.
1985 POTUS Blue Ribbon Task Group National Establishes by President Reagan as directed by the FY1985 NDAA; recommended creation of a high-level, joint DoD-DOE group (the NWC) to coordinate nuclear weapons program activities.
FY1987 NDAA (Pub. L. 99-661) Law Establishes the NWC, as recommended by the 1985 Blue Ribbon Task Group.
FY2013 NDAA (Pub. L. 112-239) Law Amends the NWC responsibilities to include an annual certification to Congress of the sufficiency of the NNSA budget to meet nuclear stockpile and stockpile stewardship program requirements of the current and next four fiscal years.
NWSM/RPD, SSMP Assessment, ROSA, JSR, NWC Budget Certification Letter, Plutonium Pit Production Certification NWC reports NWC annual reporting requirements: Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Memorandum (NWSM) and Requirements and Planning Document (RPD); the NWC Report on Stockpile Assessments (ROSA); the NWC Joint Surety Report (JSR); the NWC Budget Certification Letter; and, new as of 2019, the NWC Certification of the NNSA Pit Production Strategy.
NDERG Charter DoD Creates a group consisting of DoD leaders responsible for training, funding, and implementing the nuclear mission to establish senior leader accountability and bring together all the elements of the DoD nuclear force into a coherent enterprise.
Nuclear Weapons Surety and Nuclear Survivability
2011 DoD-DOE Nuclear Physical Security Collaboration Memorandum DoD-DOE Commits DoD and DOE to develop common standards for the physical security of nuclear weapons and special nuclear material (SNM). Pledges to develop and use a common threat assessment, the Nuclear Security Threat Capabilities Assessment (NSTCA), and methodology to identify and assess threat capabilities and determine nuclear weapons security vulnerabilities. NSTCA is developed, reviewed annually, and updated as necessary to support the preparation of unit or facility vulnerability assessments.
PPD-35, U.S. Nuclear Weapons Command and Control, Safety, and Security National Classified specifics: establishes policy guidance on nuclear weapons command and control, safety, and security.
DoDD 3150.02, DoD Nuclear Weapons Surety Program DoD Updates established policy and assigns responsibilities for DoD nuclear weapons surety for the oversight of safety, security, and control of U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon systems in DoD custody. Assigns responsibility for the nuclear weapons technical inspection (NWTI) system.
DOE O 452.1E, Nuclear Explosive and Weapon Surety Program DOE Outlines the Nuclear Explosive and Weapon Surety (NEWS) Program and the five DOE surety standards.
DoDD 5210.41,
Security Policy for
Protecting Nuclear
DoD Outlines DoD security policy for protecting nuclear weapons in peacetime environments. Provides guidance to commanders to provide security for and to ensure the survivability of nuclear weapons. Also authorizes the publication of DoD S-5210.41-M, the DoD manual providing security criteria and standards for protecting nuclear weapons.
DoDI 5210.42, Nuclear Weapons Personnel Reliability Assurance DoD Outlines DoD policy and assigns responsibilities for the management of DoD Nuclear Weapons PRP/PRAP and Air Force Arming and Use of Force Program. Authorizes the publication of DoD Manual 5210.42 that prescribes mandatory procedures for DoD Nuclear Weapons PRP/ PRAP to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. nuclear deterrent mission.
DoDM 5210.42, Nuclear Weapons Personnel Reliability Program DoD Implements the policy in DoD Instruction 5210.42 (see above), assigns responsibilities, and prescribes mandatory procedures for DoD Nuclear Weapons Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. nuclear deterrent mission.
DoDI O-5210.63, DoD Procedures for Security of Nuclear Reactors and Special Nuclear Materials DoD Directs policy, responsibilities, procedures, and minimum standards for safeguarding DoD nuclear reactors and special nuclear materials.
DoD S-5210.92-M, Physical Security Requirements DoD Implements policy governing physical security requirements of U.S. NC2 facilities and systems that have the capability to make and transmit a nuclear control order.
DoDI 3224.03, Physical Security Equipment (PSE) Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) DoD Provides guidance for the acquisition of all physical security equipment. It assigns responsibility for physical security equipment research, engineering, procurement, installation, and maintenance.
DOE O 452.2E, Nuclear Explosive Safety DOE Addresses security regarding the safety of NNSA nuclear explosive operations.
DOE Policy 470.1A, Safeguards and Security Program DOE Outlines the DOE Safeguards and Security Program, which provides the basis for security for all NNSA activities related to nuclear weapons.
10 CFR Part 712, Human Reliability Program (HRP) DOE Establishes the policies and procedures for implementation of the HRP within DOE, including NNSA. Consolidates and supersedes two former programs, the Personnel Assurance Program and the Personnel Security Assurance Program.
DOE O 470.3B, Graded Security Protection (GSP) Policy DOE Establishes the design basis threat which nuclear weapons facilities must protect against.
DOE O 472.2 Chg 2, Personnel Security DOE Establishes requirements that enable DOE to operate a successful, efficient, cost-effective personnel security program to ensure accurate, timely, and equitable determinations of individuals’ eligibility for access to classified information and SNM, including nuclear weapons.
DOE O 474.2 Admin Chg 3, Nuclear Material Control and Accountability DOE Establishes performance objectives, metrics, and requirements for developing, implementing, and maintaining a nuclear material control and accountability program, including nuclear weapons, within NNSA.
DOE O 473.3, Protection Program Operations DOE Establishes requirements for the management and operation of DOE Federal Protective Forces (FPF), Contractor Protective Forces (CPF), and the physical security of property and personnel under the cognizance of DOE, including those which protect nuclear weapons.
DoDM 3150.08, Nuclear Weapon Accident Response Procedures DoD Implements policy, assigns responsibilities, and provides comprehensive procedures under which DoD will respond to an accident involving a nuclear weapon.
DoDI-S 3150.07, Controlling the Use of Nuclear Weapons DoD Establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and prescribes procedures for controlling the use of nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon systems ensuring only authorized use.
DoDI 3150.09, The Chemical, Biological, and Nuclear (CBRN) Survivability Policy DoD Establishes policy, assigns responsibilities, and establishes procedures for the execution of DoD CBRN Survivability Policy (including electromagnetic pulse (EMP)), and specifies the mission-critical systems that must survive and operate in chemical, biological, and radiological environments, nuclear environments, or combined CBRN environments.
DoDD S-5210.81, United States Nuclear Weapons Command and Control, Safety, and Security DoD Provides general policy and assignment of responsibilities governing U.S. nuclear weapons command and control (C2), safety, and security within DoD.
DTRA Guide to Nuclear Weapons Effects DoD Includes comprehensive descriptions of all available facilities in the United States for nuclear survivability testing.
MIL-STD-1766, Nuclear Hardness and Survivability Program Requirements for ICBM Weapon Systems DoD Defines nuclear hardness and survivability requirements, procedures, and practices for use during the concept exploration and definition, demonstration and validation, engineering and manufacturing, production and deployment, and operations and support phases of the acquisition life cycle of ICBM weapon systems.
MIL-STD-2169C, HEMP Environmental Standard DoD Defines high-altitude EMP environments for system hardness design and testing.
MIL-STD-3023, HEMP Protection for Military Aircraft DoD Establishes design margin, performance metrics, and test protocols for HEMP protection of military aircraft with nuclear EMP survivability at three hardness levels. MIL-STD may also be used for aircraft that support multiple missions. Subsystems of the aircraft required to fully comply with the provisions of the standard are designated as Mission-Critical Subsystems having a HEMP survivability requirement. Allows for consideration of platforms not yet addressed in this standard, such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
MIL-STD-188-125, HEMP Protection for Fixed and Transportable Ground-Based C4I Facilities Performing Critical, Time Urgent Missions DoD Establishes requirements and design objectives for high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) hardening of both fixed and transportable systems.
MIL-STD-4023, HEMP Protection for Military Surface Ships DoD Establishes performance metrics, test protocols, and hardness margin levels for HEMP protection of military surface ships that must function when subjected to a HEMP environment.
Satellite System Nuclear Survivability (SSNS) Environmental Standard DoD Defines nuclear weapon environment levels for evaluating satellite system performance in nuclear scenarios.
Comprehensive Atmospheric Nuclear Environments Standard (CANES) DoD Provides detailed nuclear environments and effects for a number of different nuclear weapon-types as a function of height of burst. A supplement to this MIL-STD covers nuclear-disturbed communication environments and nuclear ground burst environments.
Nuclear Threat Reduction
470th UN Plenary, statute for IAEA International Agreement The IAEA governing document lays out the objectives and functions that the agency is authorized to pursue research on, and assistance to nations in developing, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and providing safeguards to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Nunn-Lugar Act Law 1991 legislation created Cooperative Threat Reduction program, for the purpose of securing and dismantling weapons of mass destruction and associated infrastructure in the former states of the Soviet Union. Expanded to non-Soviet countries in Africa and South Asia.
International Nuclear Cooperation
EOs 10841 and 10956 National 1959 and 1961 executive orders that delegate authority for international transfers of nuclear information from the President to the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission (later Secretary of Energy).
U.S.-UK Mutual Defense Agreement Agreements Authorized regular exchanges of information and expertise on nuclear weapons; signed in 1958.
NATO Agreements Guarantees mutual defense among members; NATO Nuclear Planning Group provides a forum for NATO member nations to exchange information on nuclear forces and planning, to review the Alliance nuclear policy and adapt it as necessary, and in which member countries can participate in the development of the Alliance nuclear policy and in decisions on NATO nuclear posture, regardless of whether or not they maintain nuclear weapons.
P3 Agreements Trilateral agreements between the three Western nuclear powers (U.S., UK, and France).
Nuclear Treaties and Agreements
Treaties Law Bilateral, multilateral, and international law that affects the U.S. nuclear deterrent—forces and stockpile.
EO 13526, Classified Nuclear Security Information National Prescribes a uniform system for classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying National Security Information.
10 CFR 1045, Nuclear Classification and Declassification Law Vehicle by which DOE implements the Atomic Energy Act requirements for classification and declassification of nuclear information.
Atomic Energy Act, Sec. 142 142 Law Section of the AEA that categorizes all data concerning the design, manufacture, or utilization of nuclear weapons; production of SNM; or use of SNM in the production of energy as Restricted Data (RD). Also provides for the removal of information from RD, which then categorizes it as Formerly Restricted Data (FRD) (which is still a category of classified nuclear weapons information).
DoDI 5210.02, Access to and Dissemination of Restricted Data and Formerly Restricted Data DoD States DoD policy governing access to and dissemination of RD and FRD. Categorizes RD information into Confidential RD, Secret RD, and Top Secret RD. CNWDI is a DoD access control caveat for Top Secret RD or Secret RD revealing the theory of operation or design of components of a thermonuclear or implosion-type fission bomb, warhead, demolition munition, or test device.
DOE O 452.7, Protection of Use Control Vulnerabilities and Designs DOE Establishes the policy, process, and procedures for control of sensitive use control information in Nuclear Weapon Data categories Sigma 14 (concerning the vulnerability of nuclear weapons to a deliberate unauthorized nuclear detonation or to the denial of authorized use) and Sigma 15 (concerning the design and function of nuclear weapon use control systems, features, and components) to ensure the dissemination of the information is restricted to individuals with valid need-to-know.
DOE O 452.8, Control of Nuclear Weapon Data DOE Sustains Sigma 14 and 15 and establishes Sigma 18 (information that allows or significantly facilitates a proliferant nation or entity to fabricate a credible nuclear weapon or nuclear explosive based on a proven, certified, or endorsed U.S. nuclear weapon or device).
DOE O 457.1A, Nuclear Counter Terrorism DOE Provides the basis for implementing procedures regulating strict control of and access to Sigma 20 (pertains to “crude, simple, or innovative” improvised nuclear device designs, concepts, and related manufacturing or processing pathways).
DoDM 5200.01-V1, DoD Information Security Program DoD Describes two types of classification authority: original and derivative. A classifier is any person who makes a classification determination and applies a classification category to information or material. The determination may be an original classification action or derivative classification action.
DoDM 5200.2-R, Procedures for the DoD Personnel Security Program (PSP) DoD Defines the eligibility standards for access to classified information.
DoDM 5200.01-V2, DoD Information Security Program: Marking of Classified Information DoD Stipulates marking requirements for classified documents.
NATO – Administrative Arrangements to Implement the Agreement Between Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty for Cooperation Regarding ATOMAL Information Agreement Governs the conversion of cleared U.S. classified nuclear material to NATO ATOMAL. These materials, although marked as ATOMAL, have not been assigned a NATO Registry control number and, therefore, are not considered NATO materials and can still be disseminated between DoD components via SIPRNET in the same manner as FRD materials. Once the material is formally handed over to a NATO Registry and assigned a NATO control number, it becomes a controlled NATO ATOMAL document.
Freedom of Information Act Law Federal law that requires the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government upon request. Classified information and Official Use Only documents may be exempt from FOIA release.
DoDI 5210.83, DoD Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information DoD States DoD Unclassified Controlled Nuclear Information (UCNI) policy.
Title 42 USC §128 Law Law governing the designation of DoD information as UCNI.
Title 42 USC §2168 Law Law governing the designation of DOE information as UCNI.
Figure 17.2 Governing Documents