Research Service (SRS) personnel Kurt Zollinger (head of the SRS), Konrad Schlatter (technical director of SRS), Jürg Schärer (head of the taggant program at SRS), Urs Hilfiker (scientific staff member involved in the taggant program at SRS), and Brigitte Hilfiker-Boller (support staff member involved in the taggant program at SRS), and with Claude Muller of the Swiss Federal Police in Bern, the agency that oversees the Swiss taggant program.

For historical reasons,3 all explosives forensic services are provided by the 15-member staff at the SRS in Zurich, working closely with law enforcement officials. There are four analytical chemists and two laboratories equipped with atomic absorption, liquid chromatography, optical microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry, x-ray fluorescence, and high-performance liquid and ion chromatography instruments.

The Swiss provided introductory briefings on their Federal Law on Explosive Materials and then responded, through roundtable discussion, to committee members' questions on detection taggants, identification taggants, rendering common chemicals inert, and imposing controls on precursor chemicals used to manufacture explosive materials. They also provided a tour of their forensic laboratory to demonstrate the steps in their taggant program, and they hosted a visit to the Schweizerische Sprengstoff AG Cheddite explosives plant in Isleten (see Box F.1).

The Swiss are unique because of their long-standing use of taggants in explosives manufactured for use in Switzerland. From the subcommittee's 2-1/2-day visit it was apparent that the Swiss have learned valuable lessons related to implementing and carrying out their taggant program. Summarized below are the points that seemed most significant in relation to the committee's task.

Background

Switzerland has 7 million people and an area of 15,940 square miles (it is approximately the size of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island combined) and is composed of 26 cantons. Zurich is the largest city, with 350,000 people. Bern is the Swiss capital. The country is very mountainous—60 percent of it is in the Alps (in the south) and 10 percent is in the Jura mountains (in the north), with most of the population living in between. There are three official languages, with 70 percent of the population speaking German, 20 percent French, and 10 percent Italian.

There are three explosives manufacturers in Switzerland: one that makes ammonium nitrate (AN)-based explosives only (Swiss Blasting AG, Bülach/ZH); one that makes AN-based explosives, pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), and

3  

 Jakob Meier of Zurich initiated the use of bomb forensics in the 1960s.



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