Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version)
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Nuclear Forensics:
A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version)



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.


  • Conflict and Security Issues — Weapons and Technology
  • Conflict and Security Issues — Prevention, Security and Response

Publication Info

31 pages | 8 1/2 x 11

Table of Contents

skim chapter
Front Matter i-xiv
Executive Summary 1-2
Summary 3-12
Brief Biographies of Committee Members 13-17
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Suggested Citation

National Research Council. Nuclear Forensics: A Capability at Risk (Abbreviated Version). Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2010.

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