National Academies Press: OpenBook
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

NUCLEAR FORENSICS

A CAPABILITY AT RISK

(Abbreviated Version)

Committee on Nuclear Forensics

Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board

Division on Earth and Life Studies

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
500 Fifth Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by contract number DE-AM01-04PI4513, DE-AT01-08NA28455.A000, TO#24 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Energy. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

Additional copies of this report are available from the

National Academies Press,

500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu

Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine


The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.


The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.


The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.


The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.


www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

Committee on Nuclear Forensics

ALBERT CARNESALE,

University of California, Los Angeles,

Chair

MARVIN L. ADAMS,

Texas A&M University, College Station

R. STEPHEN BERRY,

University of Chicago (retired), Illinois

SUE B. CLARK,

Washington State University, Pullman

JAY C. DAVIS,

Hertz Foundation, Livermore, California

JOHN A. GORDON,

U.S. Air Force (retired), Alexandria, Virginia

DARLEANE C. HOFFMAN,

University of California (retired), Oakland

MICHAEL O. LARSON,

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (retired), California

MILTON LEVENSON,

Bechtel International (retired), Menlo Park, California

RANDALL S. MURCH,

Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University, Alexandria

DANIEL B. PONEMAN,*

The Scowcroft Group, Washington, DC

JERRY B. WILHELMY,

Los Alamos National Laboratory (retired), Honolulu, Hawaii

STAFF

MICAH D. LOWENTHAL, Study Director

TONI GREENLEAF, Administrative and Financial Associate

SHAUNTEÉ WHETSTONE, Senior Program Assistant

*

Daniel Poneman resigned from committee in May 2009 when he was confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the position of U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board

RICHARD A. MESERVE,

Carnegie Institution for Science, Washington, DC,

Chair

BARBARA J. MCNEIL,

Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts,

Vice Chair

JOONHONG AHN,

University of California, Berkeley

JOHN S. APPLEGATE,

Indiana University School of Law, Bloomington

MICHAEL L. CORRADINI,

University of Wisconsin-Madison

PATRICIA J. CULLIGAN,

Columbia University, New York City, New York

SARAH C. DARBY,

Oxford University, United Kingdom

JAY C. DAVIS,

Hertz Foundation, Livermore, California

ROBERT C. DYNES,

University of California, San Diego

JOE GRAY,

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, California

DAVID G. HOEL,

Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston

HEDVIG HRICAK,

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, New York

THOMAS H. ISAACS,

Stanford University, Palo Alto, California

ANNIE B. KERSTING,

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, California

FRED A. METTLER, JR.,

New Mexico VA Health Care System, Albuquerque

BORIS F. MYASOEDOV,

Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

RICHARD J. VETTER,

Mayo Clinic (retired), Rochester, Minnesota

RAYMOND G. WYMER,

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (retired), Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Staff

KEVIN D. CROWLEY, Director

MICAH D. LOWENTHAL, Program Director

SARAH CASE, Program Officer

TONI GREENLEAF, Administrative and Financial Associate

LAURA D. LLANOS, Administrative and Financial Associate

SHAUNTEÉ WHETSTONE, Senior Program Assistant

ERIN WINGO, Senior Program Assistant

JAMES YATES, JR., Office Assistant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

Preface to the Abbreviated Version

This is an abbreviated version of the National Academies' report on sustaining and improving the nation's nuclear forensics capabilities, entitled, Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (U). The full version of that report, which is classified, was issued in January 2010.

The Committee on Nuclear Forensics has been informed about progress made since that time on several matters related directly to the committee’s findings and recommendations. There has been a modest increase in funding for nuclear forensics. As required by the 2010 Defense Authorization Act, the President has issued a 5-year strategic plan for work in this area. His National Security Staff has informed the committee staff that an interagency policy committee will soon be initiated to develop strategic requirements for nuclear forensics. The Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee has issued guidelines on which measurements would be most valuable for post-detonation nuclear forensics. Guidance has been issued on which nuclear forensics matters may be discussed with non-U.S. citizens. The interagency apparatus has begun work on reconciling security classification guidance among the responsible agencies. The National Level Exercise 2010, held in May, for the first time incorporated attribution in a nuclear detonation exercise. A nuclear forensics personnel pipeline program is funding fellowships for graduate students and supporting professors in a few mission-relevant fields, and has created a nuclear forensics summer school. Other actions have been taken but remain beyond the bounds of this abbreviated report for national security reasons.

These all appear to be positive developments, although the committee has not had a chance to review them. Much work remains to be done on matters raised by the committee. It appears that these issues are being recognized by the responsible federal agencies and the White House, and steps are being taken to address them.


Albert Carnesale, Chair

Committee on Nuclear Forensics

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

Preface

Leaders of the United States for more than a decade have believed that nuclear terrorism is among the gravest threats to our nation. Beyond the terrible loss of life, which in itself is difficult to appreciate fully, the successful detonation of one or more nuclear explosives in a U.S. city and the potential for more detonations could transform our nation into a national security state, focused on common defense to the detriment of the justice, general welfare, and blessings of liberty envisioned by our nation's founders. The nation's responses to the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, hint at this danger. America has proven resilient, but a nuclear detonation would cause far more death and destruction than were seen on 9/11.

Our nation's ability to conduct forensic analyses of nuclear materials, nuclear explosions, and debris from radiological dispersion devices can contribute substantially to deterring, limiting, and responding to nuclear terrorism—complementing and enhancing efforts to secure nuclear materials and detect theft, diversion, and clandestine production. The capability to identify or exclude possible origins of nuclear material could, most importantly, enhance U.S. diplomatic and investigative efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism.

The crucial importance of nuclear forensics invites questions such as this: What capabilities are embodied in the current U.S. nuclear forensics program, and how might they best be sustained and improved? These basic but highly important matters are addressed in this report by the National Academies Committee on Nuclear Forensics.

Nuclear materials and weapons have, since their discovery, required special attention. The development of nuclear forensic analyses took place largely in secret at a few laboratories. The nature of the work dictates that some of it will have to remain connected to but separate from other forensic science research, development, and practice. For that reason, the nuclear forensics program must stand on its own.

The committee was aided in its efforts by knowledgeable, skilled, and accommodating members of the National Research Council staff. In particular, Micah Lowenthal, the study director, was invaluable in organizing and marshalling the effort, as well as for his substantive contributions.

He and we received considerable assistance from Toni Greenleaf and Shaunteé Whetstone on the Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board staff and from the program security staff of the National Academies. To these individuals, and to others within and outside of government who provided information, perspectives, and the benefits of their experience and wisdom, we are sincerely grateful.


Albert Carnesale, Chair

Committee on Nuclear Forensics

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

Reviewers

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards of objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report:

Donald Barr, Los Alamos National Laboratory (retired)

Linton A. Brooks, National Nuclear Security Administration (retired)

Charles Craft, Sandia National Laboratories

John Foster, GKN Aerospace Transparency Systems, Inc.

Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, LEG Consulting, Inc.

Stanley G. Prussin, University of California (emeritus)

Wayne Shotts, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (retired)

In addition, Carol Burns (Los Alamos National Laboratory), Nathan Wimer (Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory), and staff in the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Center each conducted fact checks on excerpts of the draft report that contained no findings or recommendations. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the report's conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Cherry Murray of Harvard University and Richard A. Meserve of the Carnegie Institution for Science. Appointed by the Report Review Committee and the Division on Earth and Life Studies, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×

This page intentionally left blank.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R1
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R2
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R3
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R4
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R5
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R6
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R7
Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R8
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R9
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R10
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R11
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R12
Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R13
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12966.
×
Page R14
Next: Executive Summary »
Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version) Get This Book
×
Buy Ebook | $29.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

Nuclear forensics is important to our national security. Actions, including provision of appropriate funding, are needed now to sustain and improve the nation's nuclear forensics capabilities. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), working with cooperating agencies and national laboratories, should plan and implement a sustainable, effective nuclear forensics program.

Nuclear forensics is the examination and evaluation of discovered or seized nuclear materials and devices or, in cases of nuclear explosions or radiological dispersals, of detonation signals and post-detonation debris. Nuclear forensic evidence helps law enforcement and intelligence agencies work toward preventing, mitigating, and attributing a nuclear or radiological incident. This report, requested by DHS, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Department of Defense, makes recommendations on how to sustain and improve U.S. nuclear forensics capabilities.

The United States has developed a nuclear forensics capability that has been demonstrated in real-world incidents of interdicted materials and in exercises of actions required after a nuclear detonation. The committee, however, has concerns about the program and finds that without strong leadership, careful planning, and additional funds, these capabilities will decline.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!