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DHS Participates in Successful Demonstration of New Nuclear Forensics Capability

Last month, the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) participated in the successful demonstration of a new nuclear forensics capability designed to help better identify perpetrators of terrorist nuclear attacks.  For this demonstration, led by the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), DNDO worked with the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to test the DTRA nuclear prototype system Discreet Oculus.  This demonstration, known as Mighty Saber 2015, took place from July 27 to August 21.  

Discreet Oculus is a research and development effort to design and deploy a ground-based system of seismic, acoustic, air pressure, radiation, light, and radio frequency wave sensors to detect signals from an urban nuclear weapon detonation.  These signals would be combined with other nuclear forensics data to help determine the characteristics of the purported weapon and shared with law enforcement partners and intelligence agencies.  Recently installed sensors in key metropolitan areas are part of a growing nationwide network to send information in real-time to a fusion center for analysis.

Following the demonstration, I joined officials from the White House, DoD, DOE, FBI, and the intelligence community, to discuss the results of this technology and plans for its implementation.  This technology will complement existing nuclear forensics capabilities that center on the collection and analysis of debris and air samples in the immediate aftermath of a nuclear detonation within the United States, in addition to existing ground- and space-based nuclear detonation detection systems.

The U. S. Government continues to develop formidable nuclear forensics capabilities in support of our policy to hold fully accountable any state, terrorist group, or other non-state actor that supports or enables terrorist efforts to obtain or use nuclear weapons.  DNDO is responsible for helping to ensure the nation’s nuclear forensics capability is ready to respond to a nuclear event.  Being prepared for the worst contingencies can help minimize the consequences for our nation, guide national responses, and deter attacks.  

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