“This [Nuclear Security] Summit focuses on strengthening nuclear security and preventing terrorists, criminals and all other unauthorised actors from acquiring nuclear materials that could be used in nuclear weapons, and other radioactive materials that could be used in radiological dispersal devices. Achieving this objective remains one of the most important challenges in the years to come.”
On March 24-25, President Obama joined 52 world leaders and four international organizations in The Hague, Netherlands for the third Nuclear Security Summit, aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism around the globe. The Hague Summit built upon the accomplishments of the two previous Nuclear Security Summits in 2010 and 2012 and focused on three main goals: reducing the amount of dangerous nuclear material in the world; improving the security of all nuclear material and radioactive sources; and improving international cooperation.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is proud to have supported numerous accomplishments highlighted at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit. DNDO’s singular focus is to prevent nuclear terrorism through advancing nuclear detection and nuclear forensics capabilities. International forums such as the Summit are critical to DNDO’s mission.
The U.S. National Progress Report
“Nuclear terrorism represents the most immediate and extreme threat to global security, requiring a strong and enduring commitment to domestic and worldwide action.”
Progress and completion of our commitments toward achieving the Nuclear Security Summit goals are highlighted in the U.S. National Progress Report and include both nuclear detection and forensics- related items, including contributions to and the use of national nuclear forensics libraries and enhanced efforts to combat illicit trafficking in nuclear and radiological materials.
National Nuclear Forensics Libraries
An effort led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), DNDO contributed to the development of a national nuclear forensics libraries framework. A national nuclear forensics library benefits a state by enhancing its capability to make timely assessments of whether seized material may or may not be consistent with nuclear and other radioactive material produced, used, or stored within that state. It also provides a common framework for the investigation of a transnational nuclear security event.
DNDO has also assisted the Department of Energy with the development of the United States’ national nuclear forensics library and has promoted global understanding of national nuclear forensics libraries by conducting a virtual, web-based tabletop exercise, Galaxy Serpent, in collaboration with the Department of State. This exercise focused on formulating and using national nuclear forensics libraries under the auspices of the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group. The United States has pledged to continue to lead and involve international participants in a series of such exercises.
Enhanced Efforts to Combat Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear and other Radioactive Materials
DNDO contributed to the completion of a strategic plan for the Global Nuclear Detection Architecture outlining progress in respect to nuclear detection efforts globally, and the creation of a domestic search plan focusing on smuggling incidents. DNDO also trained more than 7,500 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers in nuclear detection, assisted in the extensive testing of 12 different categories of nuclear detection technologies, and conducted research to develop and evaluate new radiation detection technologies.
Finally, the DNDO-led National Nuclear Forensics Expertise Development Program, which is the comprehensive U.S. Government effort to grow and sustain qualified technical expertise required to execute the nation’s nuclear forensics mission, was provided as an active and practical example of how to transfer and sustain nuclear knowledge and expertise to the next generation of scientists.
Nuclear Forensics “Gift Basket”
Summit gift baskets represent the initiative of a group of countries who in turn serve as role models for a given aspect of nuclear security. The Dutch-led Nuclear Forensics Gift Basket, “Forensics in Nuclear Security,” to which a number of countries including the U.S. are signatories, is a set of accomplishments and commitments that foster expertise and cooperation, and enhance nuclear forensics as an effective component of nuclear security. DNDO has taken an active role in contributing to these activities, including assisting in the publishing of a nuclear forensics lexicon to promote communication across the international nuclear forensics community, which The Netherlands released as an iOS and Android mobile app at the Summit. Additionally, DNDO helped develop a compendium of best practices, education, and training curriculum for experts, responders, and policy makers, and refocused a knowledge platform to enhance discussion and commitment among experts and policymakers.
Joint Statement on Illicit Trafficking Radiation Assessment Program
DNDO, the European Commission, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the IAEA have collaborated in the conduct of the Illicit Trafficking Radiation Assessment Program (ITRAP+10) test campaign. Over the past three years, this international partnership tested about 70 different models of radiological and nuclear detection and identification equipment against international standards. The findings of this test campaign will be shared to inform future revisions to the IAEA Nuclear Security Series and other international standards.
Official Summit Side Event: @tomic 2014
@tomic 2014, an international table-top exercise and official side event of the Summit, was conducted from February 18-20, 2014 and focused on preventing nuclear and radiological terrorism. The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and State helped design and facilitate @tomic 2014, which involved fictitious but realistic nuclear security events, including smuggling and the threat of terrorism, on a global scale. One of the major goals of this Dutch-led exercise was to enhance knowledge and awareness of how nuclear forensics can be used in nuclear smuggling cases and is an important component of effective nuclear security.
Joint Statement of the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism
The Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism published a joint statement highlighting the activities of the Nuclear Detection and Nuclear Forensics Working Groups which support the Nuclear Security Summit’s goals. Spotlighted in this statement were several nuclear detection and forensics guidelines/best practices documents and tabletop exercises to which DNDO contributed.