Title: Tracing the Origin of Diverted or Stolen Nuclear Material through Nuclear Forensic Investigations
Authors: MAYER KLAUSWALLENIUS MARIARAY Ian
Publisher: Springer
Publication Year: 2006
JRC N°: JRC30523
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC30523
Type: Articles in books
Abstract: Since the beginning of the 1990¿s, more than 600 cases of illicit trafficking involving radioactive or nuclear material have been reported in the IAEA database. The reported seizures obviously represent only the tip of an iceberg and we have to assume that the real number of cases of illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material is significantly higher. Most of the reported seizures refer to radioactive sources (such as 137Cs, 192Ir, 60Co or 90Sr) originating from medical or industrial applications. These materials pose a radiological hazard due to their high activity. The seized samples of nuclear material were generally of higher mass, yet of lower activity as compared to medical or industrial radioisotope sources. The threat associated with nuclear material is going beyond the shear consideration of the number of Becquerel of seized sample. The radiotoxicity of the alpha emitting nuclides typically encountered in nuclear material is significantly higher than that of beta or gamma emitters usually applied in medical sources. This represents a considerable hazard if the material is handled in inappropriate ways and particularly if considered in a terrorist context. The use of nuclear material in a radiological dispersal device (colloquially referred to as a ¿dirty bomb¿) is therefore a matter of serious concern. Furthermore, nuclear material ¿if available in sufficient quantity and quality- may be used in nuclear explosive devices. Nuclear material is generally under strict control of competent national or international authorities. This control may involve accountancy and safeguards measures and is generally combined with strict physical protection of the material. However, the reported seizures of nuclear material prove that nuclear material can be diverted or stolen in some instances. This leads to the conclusion that the implementation of treaties, agreements or conventions on safeguards and physical protection has not been fully achieved or suffers from gaps. Closing these gaps and improving the control of nuclear material at the sites where theft or diversion occurred are therefore of prime importance. This, however, requires the identification of the origin of the seized nuclear material.
JRC Institute:Institute for Transuranium Elements

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