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Nuclear Forensics to be Explored In-depth at July Conference

Forensics Poster

For three and half days in July, nuclear security experts from around the world will be meeting at the IAEA's Headquarters in Vienna to take stock of developments in the field of nuclear forensics - which is the science of uncovering the origin and history of nuclear and other radioactive materials, especially those found at a crime scene.

The more than 350 attendees will review the role of nuclear forensics as an essential element of national nuclear security infrastructure; present recent scientific achievements and exchange experience and lessons learned related to the application of nuclear forensics; review current state-of-practice in the field; and identify advances in analytical tools.

They will also propose and discuss mechanisms for achieving further international and regional cooperation, as well as propose ways to increase IAEA support to Member States that request assistance in developing nuclear forensics capabilities.

Nuclear forensics is the measurement of the isotopic signatures, chemical properties, and physical features of nuclear or other radioactive material to uncover information about the material's origin and history. Confidence in the resulting analysis is important because the results from a nuclear forensics examination are vital for law enforcement investigations, and help States to make informed decisions that will improve their nuclear security practices.

The IAEA has been including nuclear forensics support activities in its nuclear security plans and projects for the last 12 years. Since 2009 the IAEA has trained 420 participants from 89 Member States in introductory and applied courses in nuclear forensics. The Agency's Nuclear Security Plan for 2014-2017 reflects the importance of nuclear forensics for the effectiveness and sustainability of national nuclear security measures.

Also, by organizing this, the largest international conference dedicated solely to the exploration of nuclear forensics, the IAEA is aiming to further improve the practice of these scientific methods and investigative techniques worldwide.

The International Conference on Advances in Nuclear Forensics: Countering the Evolving Threat of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material out of Regulatory Control (7-10 July 2014) will cover issues such as nuclear forensics as part of a national response plan to a nuclear security event, application of nuclear forensics to relevant national laws and international legal instruments, nuclear forensic support to radiological crime scene management; the science of nuclear forensic signatures, interpretative tools to include nuclear forensic databases, building confidence in nuclear forensic conclusions, education and training in nuclear forensics and the intersection of nuclear forensic science with nuclear security policy requirements.

The Conference is organized in cooperation with the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG), INTERPOL, and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.


- By Sasha Henriques, IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication

(Note to Media: We encourage you to republish these stories and kindly request attribution to the IAEA)