This policy brief discusses the uncertainties associated with the use of nuclear material for energy production, but attempts to move beyond the mainstream definitions on nuclear terrorism and nuclear safety issues.

The policy brief argues that stakeholders involved in the nuclear decision-making process do not sufficiently acknowledge the uncertainties inherent in this complex subject. The limited attention reduces the ‘societal legitimacy’ of nuclear policy-making and even increases risks to potential nuclear accidents.

The information on the use of nuclear materials used in decision-making processes is contested, as facts are often uncertain and causal relationships are not entirely known. Uncertainty can also originate from diverging beliefs alongside personal and organizational strategic interests unknown to others. These beliefs and interests in turn steer the selection and interpretation of facts.

Appropriate management of the ‘wicked problem’ of nuclear security governance requires the involvement of non-traditional stakeholders in the decision-making process and the recognition of a plurality of perspectives and the pursuit of a shared discourse. It also requires that experts are able and willing to reflect on their work and communicate with a wider audience regarding uncertainties.