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U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism Introduction During the past several years, particularly since 9/11, international concern about the use of radioactive material by terrorists as a radiological weapon has increased considerably. The possibility of the detonation of a radiological dispersal device (RDD), often referred to as a “dirty bomb,” that has radioactive material packed in or around conventional explosives has been the focus of much of this apprehension. Press reports of illicit trafficking in radioactive material, Web chat attributed to terrorist groups, and the discovery of primitive drawings of dirty bombs in the possession of international terrorist groups have heightened this concern. International experts believe that crude devices could easily be constructed. Of course, depending on the technical skills of terrorists, the radioactivity and dispersion of particles would vary considerably. In any event, public statements of experts increasingly warn of a growing threat of radiological terrorism that is in need of urgent attention. In response, the U.S. government has intensified its efforts to improve control of radioactive material in situations where the loss of control could constitute a threat to its national security interests. U.S.-financed programs established during the past several years have been designed to improve security at facilities where radioactive material is located in a number of countries and to intercept radioactive material that has entered the international black market. At the same time, an international consensus—reflected at meetings of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other national and international forums—has emerged that
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U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism such efforts by the United States and other governments are not adequate given the severity of the problem. Against this background, in FY 2003 the U.S. Congress explicitly authorized the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop cooperative programs in Russia and other regions of the world to “protect, control, and account for radiological dispersal device materials.” Information on the budgetary support for this initiative is set forth in Appendix E. The transition from a tightly guarded and difficult-to-access Soviet nuclear complex to a Russian nuclear complex operating in a more open society has severely stressed security efforts to control fissile and radioactive material. In recent years, numerous reports of radioactive material of Russian origin falling into the hands of unauthorized individuals, which are noted in this report, have raised international concern. Therefore, DOE has begun collaborative efforts with Russian organizations to upgrade the protection of radioactive material of concern and, specifically, of inadequately protected ionizing radiation sources (IRSs). IRSs are generally considered the most likely source of radioactive material that could be dispersed when dirty bombs are detonated. In 2003, DOE commissioned the study that led to this report. The report addresses nuclear security issues in Russia where large quantities of radioactive material are located. The importance of helping to upgrade the security of IRSs in Russia was the primary theme during the negotiation of the contract between DOE and the National Research Council (NRC) that provided the basis for this report. The statement of task that was included in the contract, however, was somewhat broader in scope. At the time, both DOE and the NRC considered that a wide-ranging assessment of the radiological threat would be helpful in putting into context the issues associated with protecting IRSs in Russia. Appendix A contains the original statement of task for this report. As the study evolved, DOE’s concern about the security of IRSs in Russia intensified. Therefore, the committee responsible for this report, with the concurrence of DOE and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which served as the contract manager, decided to concentrate its efforts on the radiological terrorism threat posed by inadequately protected IRSs in Russia and on feasible approaches to upgrading the security of IRSs in Russia. The new statement of task is as follows: An ad hoc committee will be established by the National Academies to develop recommendations for priorities for U.S.-Russian cooperation to be considered by the Department of Energy (DOE) as it develops its program for countering the threats of radiological terrorism. The committee will consider threats posed by radiological dispersion devices (RDDs) which consist of radioactive material embedded with conven-
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U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism tional explosives in configurations that enable the detonation of the explosives to disperse radioactivity over significant areas. The committee will concentrate its effort on activities that support Russian efforts to upgrade the security of ionizing radiation sources (IRSs) in Russia, which could be used in RDDs. The committee will consider U.S.-Russian cooperation in the broader context of global efforts to improve the security of IRSs, and particularly efforts under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In addition, it will identify the benefits to the United States in preventing radiological terrorism incidents in Russia. After reviewing ongoing cooperative efforts in consultation with American and Russian specialists, the committee will prepare a report concerning the extent of the problems associated with protection and control of IRSs, progress being made in addressing these problems, and additional steps that should be considered. Interim briefings will be provided to DOE at appropriate times during the project. In terms of the time line for this study, the initial 18-month projection was extended by 18 months. Considerable time was required to resolve administrative difficulties in gaining access to facilities in Russia for first-hand observations, to consult with appropriate Russian officials and specialists given the dozens of government bodies and hundreds of important facilities involved in IRS-related activities, and to obtain authoritative documentation about security conditions in Russia in an area that is considered quite sensitive both in Russia and elsewhere. In addition to the misuse of radiological sources considered in this study, radiological terrorism could be carried out by sabotage of a nuclear facility, waste site, or transport container. Terrorists might attempt to detonate, set fire to, or otherwise cause serious dispersion of radioactive material located within the target area. However, this report focuses primarily on the dispersion of nonfissile radioactive material. Terrorists might acquire such material by theft or other means and disperse it with conventional explosives in an RDD—the dirty bomb scenario noted previously. Other forms of radiological terrorism include the dispersion of radioactive material through public pathways, such as water supplies, roadways, or indoor heating and ventilation ducts. Another form of radiological terrorism is posed by Radiological Exposure Devices (REDs), which are radiation sources placed in public places that simply irradiate nearby persons rather than dispersing the radioactive material. Funding and time limitations led the committee to concentrate on RDDs, the main focus of the task statement. However, the
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U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism Nuclear Safety Institute (IBRAE) report1 commissioned to support this study does discuss several scenarios for REDs. The potential sabotage of nuclear facilities (especially nuclear power reactors) has received increased attention in the United States since 9/11 and in Russia since the Chernobyl accident. The cooperative efforts in this area have focused on enhancing the safety of power plants, although there is clear overlap with security concerns. The committee did not address this area, which is beyond the scope of this study. As discussed in Chapter 1, international experts consider radiological dispersal from a dirty bomb the most likely form of nuclear terrorism. Radioactive materials are ubiquitous—not only are they directly associated with civilian and military nuclear programs, but they are also widely used in medicine (e.g., cancer therapy units), agriculture (e.g., food sterilization), and industry (e.g., oil well logging, gauging metal thickness). Radioactive material from IRSs or other sources could be packed together with conventional explosives and detonated in public places. Depending on the characteristics of the material and the extent of the dispersion, radioactive material could threaten significant populations and might cause widespread fear and social disruption, along with potentially great economic damage. As noted above, building effective cooperation between Russia and the United States to reduce the threat of radiological dispersal from IRSs is the principal focus of this report. Such sources often contain radionuclides with deeply penetrating radiation; they are sealed (encapsulated typically within double layers of metal), and they are generally used with proper safety precautions during their useful lifetimes. Unfortunately, few countries have given sufficient attention to the security of IRSs during their entire life cycle (from fabrication to final disposal), particularly after they have exceeded their useful lifetime or are no longer needed. In recognition of the importance to security of ensuring that unwanted IRSs are not left unattended, in 2002, DOE moved its Orphan Source Recovery Program to its threat reduction organization. Similarly, the IAEA greatly expanded its Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources and associated IRS programs to go beyond safety concerns and focus on security, including orphan source recovery, as well. The committee did not address other potentially dangerous radioactive material, such as spent reactor fuel or radioactive waste. However, some of the information presented in this report should be useful in 1 IBRAE. 2005. Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Combating Radiological Terrorism. Prepared for the NRC Committee on Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Cooperation in Combating Radiological Terrorism.
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U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism dealing with such material that could be used in radiological dispersal devices. In surveying the work of many organizations concerned with IRSs, the committee gave special attention to the activities of the IAEA, which has included IRS security on its agenda for a number of years. Much of the IAEA’s early work culminated in the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, which was revised in January 2004.2 Other highly relevant agency documents are IAEA Safety Guide RS-G-1.9, Categorization of Radioactive Sources, and Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources.3 In addition, the IAEA maintains a database on illicit trafficking in radioactive material that includes many entries concerning the discovery of IRSs. Of course, reports on some incidents are considered classified and are available only in closed databases of enforcement organizations such as Interpol. Finally, radiological terrorism is regularly discussed by government representatives at intergovernmental meetings of the IAEA and by specialists during agency-sponsored workshops and consultations on a variety of specialized topics. As this report underscores, the IAEA is not the only international organization interested in the topic of radiological terrorism, but it has been the focal point of most of the international attention devoted to IRSs in recent years and therefore was an excellent source of information in preparing this report. Many other organizations and dozens of scholars and analysts in the United States and abroad have published books, reports, and articles on radiological terrorism. A number of these writings have also been important in preparing this report. Three of the many examples of publications relevant to the observations in this report are as follows: Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism;4 2 IAEA. 2004. Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources. Vienna: IAEA. 3 IAEA 2005. Categorization of Radioactive Sources. Safety Guide RS-G-1.9. IAEA Safety Standard Series. Vienna: IAEA. Available online at http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1227_web.pdf. Accessed November 9, 2006. IAEA. 2005. Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources. Vienna: IAEA. Available online at http://www-pub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Imp-Exp_web.pdf. Accessed on November 14, 2006. 4 NRC Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism. 2002. Pp. 39-64 in Making the Nation Safer: The Role of Science and Technology in Countering Terrorism. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.
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U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism Management of Terrorist Events Involving Radioactive Material;5 and Charles D. Ferguson, William C. Potter, et al., The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism.6 Turning specifically to the security of IRSs in Russia, the Federal Agency for Atomic Energy (Rosatom) published Report on Safety in March 2004,7 which describes the government’s policy and program framework for all aspects of nuclear safety, including safety in handling IRSs. The committee is unaware of a similarly comprehensive, publicly available report from Rosatom or other Russian organizations on the closely related topic of security of IRSs, which is the theme of this report. Several Russian research organizations have been analyzing developments in Russia relevant to this study on a broad basis. For example, IBRAE of the Russian Academy of Sciences has published a number of articles on radiological terrorism concerns in Russia and other countries, including the security of IRSs. The Institute of Chemical Technology of Rosatom, in cooperation with several other Russian institutes, has prepared a series of reports on distribution of radioactive material and radioactive contamination in Russia, under a broadly based program entitled The Radiation Legacy of the Soviet Union. Reports of this program are available through the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC)8 in Moscow, an intergovernmental organization that supports projects to redirect former weapons scientists to peaceful pursuits. Member governments of the ISTC have provided financial support for this assessment program for almost a decade. The Rosatom enterprise Izotop, which has for decades been a key facility in the distribution of IRSs, plays a special role in keeping track of IRSs and in assisting regulatory bodies in proscribing measures for their appropriate handling. Three particularly important sets of documents for the preparation of this report were the following: Papers presented by officials and specialists from a number of Russian organizations at the Workshop on Safety and Security of Ionizing Radiation Sources hosted by the Russian Academy of Sciences and the 5 National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP). 2001. Management of Terrorist Events Involving Radioactive Material. NCRP Report No. 138. Bethesda, Md.: NCRP. 6 Ferguson, C. D., W. C. Potter, A. Sands, L. S. Spector, and F. L. Wehling. 2005. Pp. 259-317 in The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism. New York, N.Y.: Routledge/Taylor & Francis, LLC. 7 Federal Agency for Atomic Energy. 2004. Report on Safety. Moscow: Komtekhprint. 8 See http://www.istc.ru. Accessed November 27, 2006.
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U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism National Academies in Moscow in 2005 (presentation material from this workshop can be obtained from the NRC);9 The aforementioned study commissioned by the NRC and carried out by IBRAE to provide a Russian perspective on many aspects of the topic of this report; findings of the study are included in this report as appropriate; and Background documents provided by DOE’s Office of Global Radiological Threat Reduction; extracts from these documents are included in this report, and the complete documents are available in the NRC’s public access file.10 Also of importance in preparing this report were briefings provided to the committee by specialists from DOE and other U.S. organizations and visits by committee members and staff to a number of Russian organizations and research facilities. A list of these briefings and visits is included in Appendix C. 9 Please contact the National Academies Public Access Records Office for this information. 10 See the following: Tittemore, G. W. 2004. Nuclear and Radiological Threat Reduction Task Force. Presentation at the first meeting of the NRC Committee on Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism, Washington, D.C., May 7. For Task Force/RDD Threat Reduction Legislation, see: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003. Pub. L. No. 107-314, §3156. 2002. H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 107-772 at pp. 790-791 (2002). Consolidated Appropriations Resolution, 2003. Pub. L. No. 108-7, 2003. H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 108-10 at p. 906 (2003). Emergency Wartime Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2003. Pub. L. No. 108-11, 2003. H.R. Conf. Rep. No. 108-76 at p. 68 (2003). Tittemore, G. W. 2004. Nuclear and Radiological Threat Reduction Task Force. Presentation at the second meeting of the NRC Committee on Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism, Washington, D.C., August 24. Sandia National Laboratories. 2004. A Basic Guide to Physical Protection of Radioactive Sources. SAND2004-2222P. Albuquerque, N.M. : Sandia National Laboratories. Sandia National Laboratories. 2004. A Basic Guide to RTR Radioactive Materials. Revision 3: 8 July 2004. Albuquerque, N.M.: Sandia National Laboratories. Tittemore, G. W., B. Waud, and P. D. Moskowitz. 2004. Nuclear Security Studies in Russia. Presentation at the second meeting of the NRC Committee on Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism, Washington, D.C., August 24-25. Soo Hoo, M. 2004. IAEA Documents on Source Security and Russia-Specific Activities. Presentation at the second meeting of the NRC Committee on Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism, Washington, D.C., August 24-25. Mustin, T. 2004. Office of Second Line of Defense Russia Program Overview. Presentation at the second meeting of the NRC Committee on Opportunities for U.S.-Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism, Washington, D.C., August 24-25.
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U.S.–Russian Collaboration in Combating Radiological Terrorism The report is structured as follows: Chapter 1 provides a global context of radiological terrorism as it is currently perceived and understood from the political and technical points of view in order to put the Russian situation in proper context. Chapter 2 describes the situation in Russia with regard to the presence of radioactive materials, security of these materials, the potential threat of terrorism posed by these materials, and the relevance of radiological threats emanating from Russia to U.S. national security interests. Chapter 3 describes and assesses past and current U.S.-Russian cooperative activities associated with managing and controlling radioactive materials and IRSs, and how these efforts affect the threat of radiological terrorism. Chapter 4 presents the conclusions and recommendations of the committee concerning steps that should be considered by DOE in supporting Russian efforts to combat radiological terrorism and secure IRSs in Russia.
Representative terms from entire chapter: