The GNDA is a worldwide network of sensors, telecommunications, and personnel, with the supporting information exchanges, programs, and protocols that serve to detect, analyze, and report on nuclear and radiological materials that are out of regulatory control. Its mission is to protect against terrorist attacks using nuclear and radiological materials through coordinated detection, analysis, and reporting on the unauthorized importation, possession, storage, transportation, development, or use of such materials.


  • Is global in that it includes both U.S. systems and those of other countries, as well as the sharing of information among those systems;
  • Targets illicit trafficking and unauthorized use of nuclear and radiological material to help protect against both nuclear and radiological terrorism;
  • Detects by way of passive and active detection equipment as well as by non-technical means, such as ongoing law-enforcement information or observations, public and other government departments and agencies’ observations, or reporting of suspicious behavior; and
  • Represents the architecture or structure which reflects the fully coordinated approach to detect, analyze, and promptly report nuclear and radiological threats.

The GNDA is an important part of the larger integrated nuclear terrorism defense spectrum, and it relies on and supports a breadth of capabilities across this spectrum. GNDA functions support, and are supported by, other separate and distinct functions relating to nuclear security such as political and strategic leadership, tactical leadership, event-driven response, nuclear forensics, radiological and nuclear materials management (including licensing and inspection by regulatory authorities), physical security, interdiction, and response and recovery. Although the primary focus of this strategic plan is on the detection portion of the spectrum, the inter-relationships across the spectrum are vital. For example, effective facility and transport security for nuclear and radiological materials, both domestically and overseas, forms the first layer of defense against nuclear terrorism. On the other end of the spectrum, a detection event should lead to interdiction to end the plot or terrorist activity. Overall, the risk of detection should lead to deterrence of terrorist acquisition of nuclear and radiological materials.

The Department of State, through the International Security and Nonproliferation Bureau, along with the Departments of Energy and Defense maintain policy guidance and implementation responsibility of the portion of the GNDA outside the United States. In addition, the Department of State leads overall coordination and harmonization of U.S. Government efforts to develop and enhance international detection architectures and strategies, focusing on the following objectives:

  • Establish and maintain engagement with foreign governments through formal agreements and bilateral and multilateral frameworks necessary to provide detection equipment assistance and facilitate information sharing.
  • Develop improved international partner country detection capacity by providing equipment, training, and sustainability support.
  • Enhance international detection capabilities by developing and/or participating in international programs and efforts.
  • Maintain connectivity with international partners on nuclear or radiological detection incidents through the development or enhancement of reporting and communication channels.