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Protection, Control, and Accounting of Nuclear Materials: International Challenges and National Programs - Workshop Summary Introduction The use and storage of nuclear materials at hundreds of facilities around the world in support of nuclear medicine, nuclear energy, nuclear weapons programs, and other activities presents what has become an oft-repeated litany of security threats. Individuals or groups with destructive intentions can attack or sabotage a nuclear facility, potentially causing the release of radioactivity, or they can attempt to steal nuclear materials for use in a nuclear weapon or a radiological dispersal device. And ready stockpiles of nuclear materials—particularly if the materials are of weapons grade—make it easier for a state to decide to build or expand a nuclear arsenal, or for an individual or government to divert those materials from legitimate to illegitimate uses or to sell them on the black market to others who desire their own nuclear weapons. The scientists, engineers, and security experts responsible for nuclear materials protection, control, and accounting (MPC&A) play a vital role in mitigating these threats. As they work to meet the threats posed by the presence and use of nuclear materials with effective responses, MPC&A experts seek to achieve a delicate balance between twin imperatives. A national MPC&A system must be viable within its unique political, economic, legal, and cultural context if it is to be effective. At the same time, national MPC&A systems must work in concert with those of other states with nuclear programs to present a united front against the potential for sabotage, theft, and proliferation. It is clear that a globally impregnable MPC&A system is an ideal that will never be fully realized, and that those responsible for designing, installing, and managing nuclear security systems must balance the expenditure required to pay for security systems and personnel against the risk of attack or theft. There are
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Protection, Control, and Accounting of Nuclear Materials: International Challenges and National Programs - Workshop Summary many who argue, however, that we are very far from achieving a reasonable level of security against threats posed by poorly secured nuclear materials, and that much more can and should be done to achieve universally high MPC&A standards. For that reason, the National Academies and the Russian Academy of Sciences jointly convened a workshop on September 24 and 25, 2003, on MPC&A practice. The workshop, held at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, provided an international forum for MPC&A professionals and other experts to exchange ideas and information with one another and with IAEA staff members. The goal was to expand the body of knowledge upon which attendees draw as they strive to make their own MPC&A systems as effective as possible.
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