The Importance of International Technical Nuclear Forensics to Deter Illicit Trafficking

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Illicit trafficking of nuclear materials is a transboundary problem that requires a cooperative approach involving international nuclear forensics to ensure all states understand the threat posed by nuclear smuggling as well as a means to best deter the movement of nuclear contraband. To achieve the objectives, all cases involving illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials must be vigorously pursued and prosecuted when appropriate. The importance of outreach and formal government-to-government relationships with partner nations affected by nuclear trafficking cannot be under-estimated. States that are situated on smuggling routes may be well motivated to counter nuclear crimes to bolster their ... continued below

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4 p. (0.1 MB)

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Smith, D K January 30, 2007.

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Illicit trafficking of nuclear materials is a transboundary problem that requires a cooperative approach involving international nuclear forensics to ensure all states understand the threat posed by nuclear smuggling as well as a means to best deter the movement of nuclear contraband. To achieve the objectives, all cases involving illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials must be vigorously pursued and prosecuted when appropriate. The importance of outreach and formal government-to-government relationships with partner nations affected by nuclear trafficking cannot be under-estimated. States that are situated on smuggling routes may be well motivated to counter nuclear crimes to bolster their own border and transportation security as well as strengthen their economic and political viability. National law enforcement and atomic energy agencies in these states are aggressively pursuing a comprehensive strategy to counter nuclear smuggling through increasing reliance on technical nuclear forensics. As part of these activities, it is essential that these organizations be given adequate orientation to the best practices in this emerging discipline including the categorization of interdicted nuclear material, collection of traditional and nuclear forensic evidence, data analysis using optimized analytical protocols, and how to best fuse forensics information with reliable case input to best develop a law enforcement or national security response. The purpose of formalized USG relationship is to establish an institutional framework for collaboration in international forensics, improve standards of forensics practice, conduct joint exercises, and pursue case-work that benefits international security objectives. Just as outreach and formalized relationships are important to cultivate international nuclear forensics, linking nuclear forensics to ongoing national assistance in border and transpiration security, including port of entry of entry monitoring, nuclear safeguards, and emerging civilian nuclear power initiatives including the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership are crucial components of a successful nuclear detection and security architecture. Once illicit shipments of nuclear material are discovered at a border, the immediate next question will be the nature and the source of the material, as well as the identity of the individual(s) involved in the transfer as well as their motivations. The Nuclear Smuggling International Technical Working Group (ITWG) is a forum for the first responder, law enforcement, policy, and diplomatic community to partner with nuclear forensics experts worldwide to identify requirements and develop technical solutions in common. The ITWG was charted in 1996 and since that time approximately 30 member states and organizations have participated in 11 annual international meetings. The ITWG also works closely with the IAEA to provide countries with support for forensic analyses. Priorities include the development of common protocols for the collection of nuclear forensic evidence and laboratory investigations, organization of forensic round-robin analytical exercises and technical forensic assistance to requesting nations. To promote the science of nuclear forensics within the ITWG the Nuclear Forensics Laboratory Group was organized in 2004. A Model Action Plan for nuclear forensics was developed by the ITWG and published as an IAEA Nuclear security Series document to guide member states in their own forensics investigations. Through outreach, formalized partnerships, common approaches and security architectures, and international working groups, nuclear forensics provides an important contribution to promoting nuclear security and accountability.

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4 p. (0.1 MB)

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PDF-file: 4 pages; size: 0.1 Mbytes

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  • Presented at: INMM Workshop on Nuclear Security, Santa Fe, NM, United States, Mar 21 - Mar 22, 2007

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  • Report No.: UCRL-PROC-227759
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 902618
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc877117

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • January 30, 2007

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  • Sept. 22, 2016, 2:13 a.m.

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  • April 13, 2017, 6:05 p.m.

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Smith, D K. The Importance of International Technical Nuclear Forensics to Deter Illicit Trafficking, article, January 30, 2007; Livermore, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc877117/: accessed October 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.