The meeting halls of the IAEA headquarters in Vienna were a buzz of energy with more than 330 attendees congregating from 86 Member States and 10 organizations on 7 July 2014 for the opening day of the International Conference on Advances in Nuclear Forensics: Countering the Evolving Threat of Nuclear and Other Radioactive Material out of Regulatory Control. The three and a half day conference is the first international conference dedicated exclusively to nuclear forensics. It sets out to explore the role of nuclear forensics in nuclear security and exchange information on relevant new technologies and techniques as well as approaches for developing capacities, capabilities and furthering cooperation in this investigative field.
Nuclear forensics can provide information on the history, intended use and possible origin of nuclear materials that addresses the threat of nuclear and other radioactive materials that are out of regulatory control. It is an essential component of nuclear security and is increasingly recognized on a global scale as a tool for deterring and responding to such threats. This field in turn can also support and enhance law enforcement investigations and be an effective means for governments to improve national nuclear security regimes and assess nuclear security vulnerabilities.
In his opening remarks, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano underscored the importance of nuclear forensics. "By helping to determine the origin and history of seized materials, nuclear forensics provides important answers that can guide investigations. It can help to identify gaps in the implementation of international legal instruments and indicate what may need to be done to improve the control of nuclear materials." He went on to emphasize the IAEA's commitment to "playing its part in ensuring that the extremely important science of nuclear forensics continues to progress."
Member State representatives, experts, practitioners, policy makers, as well as law enforcement and nuclear security officials and specialist organizations will be deliberating on a comprehensive range of topics. Discussions will include national nuclear security infrastructures and approaches to establishing a network of coordination at the regional and international levels to build capacities and manage findings.
"Nuclear forensics is an area where close international working brings real dividends," explained the President of the Conference, Susan le Jeune d'Allegeershecque, Ambassador to Austria and UK Permanent Representative to the UN and other International Organizations in Vienna, during the opening session. "Our hope for this week is that you will share your national experience and insights to add to our collective knowledge of this important subject. This week offers the best chance yet to look at challenges together, to draw up strategies for confronting them and, by doing so, to make the world a safer place."
The Conference will be held from 7 to 10 July 2014 and has been organized in cooperation with the Nuclear Forensics International Technical Working Group (ITWG), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT).
This Conference is one of the many facets of the IAEA's work in the area of nuclear forensics, which is complemented by the Agency's partnerships with other international organizations and collaborations with Member States. These efforts together support the development of national and international approaches to strengthening nuclear security worldwide.