The field of nuclear forensics involves examining materials recovered from radiological or nuclear events of an illicit or hostile nature in order to determine their character and origin. Nuclear forensics can be conducted on interdicted or discovered radiological or nuclear materials and devices, and on the debris and immediate effects created in the aftermath of an explosion.
Nuclear forensics conclusions, combined with information from law enforcement investigations and intelligence, support the identification of those responsible for planned and actual attacks. The capability to attribute incidents to perpetrators and facilitators, in turn, supports deterrence and prevention, and aids national leadership in effectively responding to incidents, including prosecution efforts.
Under the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act (Public Law 111-140) the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is responsible for centralized planning, advancement, integration, assessment, and stewardship of the nation’s nuclear forensics activities.
DNDO coordinates these efforts across the U.S. government with the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Departments of Defense, Energy, and State; and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
To ensure an enduring national nuclear forensics capability, DNDO also leads the federal government’s efforts to build and sustain a workforce of nuclear forensics experts, in close collaboration with the Departments of Energy and Defense.