Conducting research leading to the development of new or improved techniques to detect unmarked explosives.
Emphasis should be placed on and resources directed toward the deployment of existing explosives detection technology capable of detecting ICAO markers and unmarked explosives. Research on the detection of unmarked explosives is currently under way under the direction of the Federal Aviation Administration (for aviation applications), the Interagency Technical Support Working Group (for federal applications), and the National Institute of Justice (for civilian law enforcement applications).
The addition of detection markers to explosives beyond that required by the International Civil Aviation Organization Convention is not recommended at the present time. More than 5 billion pounds of commercial explosives (the majority of which cost $0.10 to $0.15 per pound) are used annually in the United States. The cost of marking with DMNB is projected to reach a lower limit of $0.02 to $0.20 per pound for, respectively, a 0.1 to 1 percent marking level. This cost increment, together with the cross-contamination concerns associated with widespread distribution of the marker in the environment, would appear to rule out the use of markers such as DMNB for all but the most high-value commercial explosives.
The United States should conduct research on the use of International Civil Aviation Organization markers (or similar markers that can be detected by the same equipment) in commercial boosters, detonating cord, and other low-vapor-pressure, cap-sensitive commercial explosives . Currently these critical components, used in the fabrication of terrorist explosive devices, are not easily detectable. If technically feasible, the capability for marking these components of explosives should be ready for implementation in the event that the threat of illegal bombings escalates. Such research might be carried out jointly by the Department of Defense and commercial explosives manufacturers.
The United States should conduct research leading to a commercial prototype system for the production and detection of detonators and/or explosives marked with coincident gamma-ray emitters. The coincident gamma-ray marking approach has great promise, but more operational information must be collected and evaluated before deployment can be considered. Research should be conducted to examine the real and perceived health hazards of the radioactive marker in manufacture, storage, and use. Methods of incorporation of the marker into detonators and methods of detection should be validated through a full-scale demonstration program. This option should be available for implementation if the bombing threat escalates. Some research in this area is currently being conducted within the Department of Energy.