Title: Nuclear Forensics: A methodology applicable to Nuclear Security and to Non-Proliferation
Citation: Journal of Physics: Conference Series no. 312 p. 062003
Publisher: IOP Publishing
Publication Year: 2011
JRC N°: JRC59762
ISSN: 1742-6588 (Print), 1742-6596 (Online)
URI: http://iopscience.iop.org/1742-6596/312/6/062003
DOI: 10.1088/1742-6596/312/6/062003
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Nuclear Security aims at the prevention and detection of and response to, theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer or other malicious acts involving nuclear material". Nuclear Forensics is a key element of nuclear security. Nuclear Forensics is defined as a methodology that aims at re-establishing the history of nuclear material of unknown origin. It is based on indicators that arise from known relationships between material characteristics and process history. Thus, nuclear forensics analysis includes the characterization of the material and correlation with production history. To this end, we can make use of parameters such as the isotopic composition of the nuclear material and accompanying elements, chemical impurities, macroscopic appearance and microstructure of the material. In the present paper, we discuss the opportunities for attribution of nuclear material offered by nuclear forensics as well as its limitations. Particular attention will be given to the role of nuclear reactions. Such reactions include the radioactive decay of the nuclear material, but also reactions with neutrons. When uranium (of natural composition) is exposed to neutrons, plutonium is formed, as well as 236U. We will illustrate the methodology using the example of a piece of uranium metal that dates back to the German nuclear program in the 1940's. A combination of different analytical techniques and model calculations enables a nuclear forensics interpretation, thus correlating the material characteristics with the production history.
JRC Directorate:Nuclear Safety and Security

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