The moderator began the final session by asking for feedback from all of the participants on what they felt about the workshop, and if there are points or comments to make for the next meeting.
Ambassador Ghosh noted that she was grateful that the organizers of the workshop included those who are not nuclear scientists, but who are interested in the subject. And she thought this interaction was very beneficial. One area that is worth considering is the issue of public awareness. Perhaps best practices in this area could be on the agenda at a future session, particularly how to address a very disparaged public. Many in India share a concern about nuclear power, hydroelectric power, or this or that, but they want power. This also happens in the United States, Ghosh said. Yes, they want nuclear power, but not in their backyard. So we need to have professional communicators because it is not fair to ask a nuclear scientist to go and speak to the church community, for example in Kudankulam, or to some other group. Given the diverse populations in India and the United States, communicating with them would be something to discuss in the future. Another suggestion would be to discuss Human Reliability Programs for personnel in more detail in the future.
Another participant from India recalled the joint statement between the leaders of India and the United States during President Barak Obama’s visit in November 2010, where “They expressed a commitment to strengthen international cooperative activities that will reduce the risk of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons or material.” Participants in this workshop would be acting in accordance with this statement by trying to develop specific ideas or proposals to further the goal stated by the leaders. Cooperative, bilateral projects to strengthen best practices, norms, or standards would be helpful. Other, more ambitious possibilities, such as those in various forums such as the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, should be encouraged. Undertaking joint publications on the topics discussed, such as the state of the art in nuclear forensics and attribution would also be worthwhile. In particular, one possibility which is a little ambitious, but which should be considered, the participant said, is the formation of a joint, publicly-announced team capable of offering services for detection and forensic investigation of an incidence of illicit trafficking to any country in the world that feels handicapped or feels the need for them. Such a joint team could be a measure of taking things forward and building a profile as two open societies, both with advanced nuclear capabilities.
Rita Guenther thanked workshop participants, first and foremost, the distinguished presenters and guests for an excellent three days of exchange of views, and the very open and frank discussion.
She highlighted a few themes that emerged from the discussions, which, in her view, may serve as a foundation for joint cooperation. This list of themes is certainly not comprehensive; there are many more themes which have emerged, but the following can serve as a concrete foundation for going forward.
1. The need for better understanding of how to measure and characterize nuclear materials.
2. The opportunity to bring together collective knowledge of nuclear materials and methodologies to raise overall understanding, for example, through better and more effective databases.
3. The need to better understand, detect, and interrupt those who may represent a threat to nuclear security, be they insiders, be they terrorists, or a combination thereof.
4. The need to harness new, modern, and cutting-edge technologies and methodologies, to strengthen the broad spectrum of essential security infrastructures, including those related to cyber security.
5. The need and opportunity for continuous exchanges of best practices by learning from technical experts of our countries. This may take a variety of forms over the coming years, but may serve as a foundation and a basis to begin immediately.
Having listened to the last three days of discussions, Guenther commented that there is a very solid basis upon which we can build as our two countries take these discussions to the next phase of concrete cooperative joint efforts. At the close of this workshop, Guenther continued to be extremely optimistic about the prospects for addressing our common goal of nuclear security through the joint work of our technical experts.
Raymond Jeanloz also thanked the speakers for their incredible array of expertise, which allowed for a remarkable workshop. For example, Raj, an eminent scholar, director of a major laboratory, described one perspective from first-hand experience. In a very complimentary manner, Tharakan spoke from the law enforcement perspective of someone who has seen the realities on the ground. This is an amazing diversity of views, but absolutely essential to the topic at hand. This is not only a reflection of the cross-disciplinary nature of the workshop, but also of the excellence of the participants.
We started this workshop, he said, with a comment regarding the dangers that nuclear power faces, even though we all acknowledge that nuclear power will play an essential role in sustaining the immediate energy needs that the world faces. Nuclear power and nuclear materials present dangers whereby an incident anywhere around the world influences profoundly nuclear power everywhere around the world, and we have mentioned Fukushima, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, but we can also imagine many other such instances.
Nuclear sabotage and terrorism are also key issues, whether an incident were to involve radiological dispersion or even the more extreme, and hopefully the much less likely the possibility of an improvised nuclear device. Again, an incident anywhere around the world would have huge ramifications in every capital around the world. Therefore, Jeanloz reinforced the message that we really are in this together, and we have to work together, first and foremost, to think about crisis response before an incident were to occur. What needs to be sorted out in the decision making process? What are the channels of communication? We need to benefit from the insights that each one of us can bring to these topics. Therefore international collaboration is essential and that is exactly why we are here, to initiate this collaboration.
Jeanloz proposed a path forward in two ways. First, a process by which we might move forward to undertake some of the concrete collaborative actions that Guenther alluded to, and second to illustrate possible areas of collaboration. These are purely for illustrative purposes because it is critical to have a means of iterating, improving, elaborating, and adding to some of these ideas. To move forward, Jeanloz suggested building on the existing channel of communication and cooperation between the National Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS) and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to think through a handful of projects. The proposed projects should be useful and of mutual interest. As Raj stated, “They must be bold, but realistic.”
As an initial starting point, Jeanloz proposed six areas of potential cooperation:
1. Detectors and sensors and sensor systems, detector systems, whether for NDA (nondestructive analysis) or for security or anything in between. There was interest in thermal infrared imaging sensors on the one hand, and the importance of sensor systems to the whole arena on the other.
2. Chronometry for age-dating, which would include, for example, protocols, standards, and standardization. How does one validate the methods and determine uncertainties and cross-validate between capabilities of different countries?
3. Detectors and analytical approaches with regard to search engines and databases. The IAEA encouraged the development of national databases, but in the end, our goal is some amount of coordination and collaboration. That may take a lot of time, many years, for a truly international, multilateral, full-blown collaborative enterprise, but in the meantime, we can develop very effective bilateral capabilities. This can come out of a workshop such as this one between Indian and U.S. experts.
4. Insider threat. Today there is a great deal of emphasis on terrorism, and there are opportunities to discuss systematic approaches to mitigating, addressing, or reducing the likelihood of insider threats or terrorists. Personnel Reliability Programs are one example of how probabilities and some risk analysis are not necessarily independent, and we have to consider how to avoid falling into a trap of calculating a cumulative probability in a such a simplistic way that it overlooks the possibility of those very, very small cumulative thefts that were alluded to earlier.
5. Cybersecurity. Issues of protocols and standards, among others, are very important in this area, and clearly we can benefit from expertise in India and in the United States because both of our countries have technical expertise in these areas and we acknowledge that these are rapidly developing areas of technology and, by implication, rapidly evolving threat areas potentially.
6. Training. For example, Indian scientists could come to U.S. facilities, perhaps the Department of Energy facilities, to participate in some of our training programs, and then provide critiques, and ideas of improvement and feedback. Perhaps this may lead to an opportunity for a counterpart visit of U.S. scientists to India to participate in training classes. How do we amplify and improve our training capabilities on both sides? This is a very broad topic, and extends to issues raised during this closing session:
a. Public outreach and how to help train ourselves in the technical community to do more effective public outreach.
b. Nuclear security crisis response, for example, how does one prepare ahead of time to be able to respond to such crises?
c. Exchanges of students from the United States to India or of Indian students to the United States. Both academia and national or government laboratories offer rich possibilities for collaboration in these areas.
In summary, Jeanloz said, the areas for possible collaboration are: detectors, chronometry, search engines, approaches for dealing with insider threats in ter-
rorism, cybersecurity, and training. This is a very quick illustration and just the beginning of the discussion that will lead to real, active, hands-on, collaborative projects involving technical interactions.
B.V. Sreekatan, as a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, began his summary comments by expressing his appreciation for the help that he and many Indian students received from the United States in many ways, both technological and academic, that allowed them to build-up science in India. One thing we learned was self-reliance; that India could do as well in the field of science. In the last 10 to 15 years, a lot of collaboration has occurred between NIAS and NAS, and a variety of conferences have been held here and also at Goa to discuss various aspects relating nuclear energy, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and other topics. This workshop, however, is very special and we should continue with the topics listed, without worrying about a ‘divorce’ due to differences of opinion about reactor designs. The focus should be on keeping civilians safe. Social scientists and others should be included because we face a demand for power in India, and the plan is to use thorium in the future. What is the future of nuclear power in the light of these terrible accidents that have taken place, like Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island?
Immediately after the Chernobyl accident, Andrei Sakharov said, “Plainly, mankind cannot renounce nuclear power, so we must find technical means to guarantee absolute safety and exclude the possibility of another accident. The solution I favor would be to build reactors underground deep enough so that in the worst-case accident would not discharge radioactive substances into the atmosphere.” And Teller said, “My solution in regard to the containment of nuclear material in case of an accident is to place nuclear reactors 300 to 1000 feet underground. I think that the public misapprehension of the risk can be corrected only by such clear-cut measures as underground facility.”
There may be other alternative sources of energy and nuclear energy may not be the only solution, but countries like India have no solution at the moment. Our nuclear power production is only at the level of 3 percent of our total energy supply, and we need to increase the energy supply at least by a factor of 2 or 3, and even with that, we are having serious problems. Therefore, we have to continue present nuclear reactor activities. In the long-term, however, alternatives must be pursued. There are estimates that state that by 2020 to 2050, the world will need something like 4,000 gigawatts of nuclear power. Of that, the United States wants to produce 1,000 gigawatts of nuclear power.
Over the three days of the workshop, we have had excellent discussions, and from the opening session, we have had the goal of proposing positive takeaways that will translate into a few areas of focused and well-planned research interaction among the scientists of the two countries. NIAS and NAS can essentially act as catalysts and facilitators.
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