Detecting Nuclear Materials: A Comprehensive Guide

The threat of radiological attacks has led to the development of nuclear detection systems, designed to detect, analyze and report nuclear and other radioactive materials that are beyond regulatory control. These systems vary in design and capabilities, and it is important for participants to understand the agencies involved in detecting the smuggling of radiological and nuclear materials, as well as their roles and responsibilities. In order to improve the security of the nation, a strong technical capacity for nuclear and forensic detection is essential. The detection of radiological and nuclear material is an invaluable part of the overall strategy in preventing illicit trafficking and the safety of the United States and its citizens.

The objective is to improve the ability of law enforcement to detect and intercept the smuggling of radiological and nuclear materials as they move across international borders. To this end, monitors are secretly and strategically placed around cities in order to detect radiological and nuclear material. However, there is still concern that these systems have too limited a capacity to detect highly enriched uranium, a weakly radioactive material that is easier to use in an improvised nuclear device. Several proposals have been made to solve this problem.

We have developed a general workshop on combating nuclear smuggling and a training course on detection operations and associated equipment. This testimony provides preliminary observations based on ongoing work related to the state of DNDO's efforts to develop a global nuclear detection architecture, the challenges faced by DNDO and other federal agencies in implementing the architecture, and the costs of programs that constitute architecture. This training focuses on the detection of radiological and nuclear materials at international border crossings (land, sea and air). The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would prefer to intercept this nuclear material abroad, but current projects still face problems and cannot guarantee prevention of the spread of nuclear and radiological material. DHS has recently proposed testing the effectiveness of new radiological and nuclear detection devices. This document will analyze the need for radiological and nuclear detection devices, review current and proposed systems, and finally review the budget for the program.

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