The Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office was established in December 2017 by consolidating primarily the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, a majority of the Office of Health Affairs, as well as other DHS elements.
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The Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG) recently conducted its fourth Collaborative Materials Exercise (CMX-4) to improve international understanding of nuclear forensic analysis and interpretation capabilities. DHS’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO), along with the Department of Energy, the Department of State, and the Department of Justice/Federal Bureau of Investigation, played a key role in the planning and execution of this exercise. Laboratory representatives from 16 nations – including seven first-time participants – characterized and identified potential signatures of nuclear material samples in order to help determine the origin of the material.
The goal of CMX-4 was to improve international technical capabilities through identifying and sharing best practices concerning nuclear forensic protocols, procedures, analytical techniques, and interpretational methods. Participating laboratories independently analyzed three samples of low enriched uranium and successfully answered questions regarding the material characteristics and history, to support identification of material origin.
On March 17-19 the ITWG held the culminating event for this exercise – the CMX-4 Data Review Meeting (DRM) -- at the Joint Research Center Institute for Transuranium Elements in Karlsruhe, Germany. The DRM provided a forum for participants to share ideas, techniques, and procedures used to analyze samples, as well as analytical results.
The advancement of international nuclear forensics cooperation will help improve the ability of the United States and its international partners to determine the origin of smuggled materials and can assist investigations of nuclear or radiological smuggling incidents. DNDO will continue to engage in activities such as CMX-4 that support DNDO’s mission to prevent nuclear terrorism.