The International Atomic Energy Agency's Coordinated Research Project in Nuclear Forensics
As States utilize nuclear forensics as a preventive and response to a nuclear security event, confidence required in the findings from a nuclear forensics examination is essential. Because nuclear forensics supports law enforcement investigations and nuclear security vulnerability assessments, the scientific methods supporting the examination need to be fully validated and defensible.
Recent research focuses on the identification of nuclear forensics data characteristics (or signatures), accurate measurement and prediction, the controls over their incorporation and persistence across the nuclear fuel cycle, and how signatures can be exploited as part of a nuclear forensic examination.
Outcomes highlight the development of new nuclear forensic analytical techniques to include nuclear and radioactive material age dating (i.e., time of production), morphology studies of nuclear materials bearing on origin and history; investigation of nuclear microparticles; the role of modeling to identify the origin of spent nuclear fuels; as well as the application of rare-earth elements to differentiate uranium ores and concentrates. Researchers note that multiple signatures are necessary for building confidence in conclusions made by the nuclear forensic laboratory.