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  6. National Libraries Help Combat Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Materials

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National Libraries Help Combat Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Materials

Release Date: April 5, 2012

National nuclear forensics libraries were highlighted at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit as a means to enhance nuclear security. National nuclear forensics libraries aid in determining the origin of lost or stolen nuclear or other radioactive materials.

  • A national nuclear forensic library consists of information pertaining to the inventory of nuclear and other radioactive material produced, used, or stored by a country. Libraries may also contain actual physical samples of nuclear and other radioactive material.
  • A national nuclear forensics library enables a country to quickly assess whether lost or stolen material is consistent with its own material holdings, or alternatively, not consistent, thus, suggesting another country of origin.
  • The responsibility for establishing and maintaining a national nuclear forensics library rests with the country, and the library is entirely under the control of that country at all times.
  • The establishment of a national nuclear forensics library does not oblige a country to share its library holdings with another country or international organizations.
  • The development of a national nuclear forensics library begins with surveying, collecting, and organizing information about nuclear and other radioactive material produced, used or stored in the country.
  • A completed national nuclear forensic library will fully reflect the size and complexity of a country's material holdings.

The development of national nuclear forensics libraries is an important component in the emergence of nuclear forensics as a tool to promote nuclear security and nonproliferation objectives. The ability to interpret nuclear forensic analytical results relies on a country's development of the appropriate forensic methods to demonstrate that their own material has not been lost or stolen. This capability is fostered by a sustained commitment to a nuclear forensics library maintained and administered by the country.

The Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) worked with its Federal interagency partners, to develop a technical framework for national nuclear forensics libraries, in support of the IAEA.

DHS DNDO Accomplishments:

  • DNDO led the IAEA Consultancies on "Development of National Nuclear Forensics Libraries" using technical experts from eight countries. The objective was to provide countries with recommendations from experts on the technical design and attributes of a common library structure to organize their relevant information.
  • IAEA submitted a published progress report on development of national libraries, that was the product of these Consultancies, at the Nuclear Security Summit 2012.
  • DNDO provides technical support to the Department of State in developing pilot programs with international partners for training on organizing a national nuclear forensics library.
  • DNDO cooperates with the Department of Energy in developing a lightweight, web-based, prototype of a generic national nuclear forensics data dictionary to assist in educating countries about the scope of such a national library.
Last Updated: 09/21/2018
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