10 Items

A firefighter stands next to the radiation head of a radiation therapy machine in the village of Hueypoxtla, Mexico, Dec. 5, 2013.

Marco Ugarte, via AP

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Mexico’s Stolen Radiation Source: It Could Happen Here

| January 23, 2014

Although the truck-jacking of highly radioactive material outside Mexico City on December 1, 2013 ended without the worst case materializing, it should serve as a wakeup call, not just in Mexico but also in the United States and elsewhere. Dangerous radiation sources remain vulnerable to theft, especially when they are out on the road. There is also poorly protected radioactive material in hospitals and other facilities. Improving security requires tougher regulations and greater risk awareness in the industry. Unfortunately, the United States is no exception, so it’s time for the country to get serious about locking up its radioactive material.

Paper

85Kr in Industrial Krypton Gas: Origin, Identification and Dosimetry

| June 2010

Helmut W. Fischer, Bernd Hettwig, and Tom Bielefeld presented "85Kr in Industrial Krypton Gas: Origin, Identification and Dosimetry" at the Third European IRPA Congress in June 2010.  They reported on a case of transcontinental transport of krypton gas, triggering of a radiation alarm and subsequent in situ measurement by different radiometric techniques.

President Barack Obama greets German Chancellor Angela Merkel during the official arrivals for the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, April 12, 2010.

AP Photo

Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A Call for German Leadership in Combating Nuclear Terrorism

| April 12, 2010

"...Germany has an opportunity at the Washington summit — and thereafter — to step up and lend non-American leadership to the problem. Recognizing that in many of the world's capitals the threat of nuclear terrorism is not yet being taken seriously, and when in some of them the very notion is even considered an American pretext for an entirely different, potentially hostile political agenda, non-American leadership is most urgently needed."

Forensic scientists investigate and profile samples of nuclear and radioactive material seized in trafficking cases. Characteristics of known materials, such as uranium oxide samples shown here, are used for comparison studies.

LLNL

Presentation

Nuclear Forensics and Its Role in Security Policy

| November 20, 2008

Nuclear forensic analysis is currently discussed as a potentially important new tool to prevent nuclear terrorism by enabling investigators to attribute nuclear materials to their production facility and thus deterring potential state actors from transferring such materials to terrorists. In the seminar, an introduction into the technical possibilities and limitations of pre- and post-attack nuclear forensics will be given, based entirely on open source analysis. This will be followed by a discussion about the roles that nuclear attribution can — or cannot — play in security policy.

The Security of Medical and Industrial Radioactive Sources

Petr Pavelicek/IAEA

Paper - Institute for Nuclear Materials Management

The Security of Medical and Industrial Radioactive Sources

| July 17, 2008

Recent foiled and successful terrorist plots in Europe and the US (including two cases in the UK and Germany which included plans to design radiological dispersal devices in 2004 and 2005), clearly demonstrate that domestic or locally acting terrorist cells have become an important part of the terrorist threat picture. The uncovered “dirty bomb” – plots involved radioactive material of type or quantity that would not have caused much damage. Still, these observations underscore the necessity to revisit the issue of radioactive sources security in countries which may become the target of a radiological attack. This includes in particular countries in Europe, many of which in the past relied on sophisticated — but safety centred — regulations and functioning oversight institutions.

Presentation

The Categorization of Radioactive Sources

| February 19, 2008

Bielefeld talks about the current IAEA system of radioactive sources categorization, which focuses almost entirely on safety aspects in handling such materials. Hazards from the intentional misuse of radioactive sources for criminal or terrorist purposes, such as the socio-economic effects of radiological weapons, have not yet been taken into account. He argues how this omission is particularly relevant in the categorization of alpha-emitters and of aggregations of sources and discusses approaches and proposals for including security considerations in a future categorization system.

Paper - Institute for Nuclear Materials Management

Reducing Nuclear and Radiological Terrorism Threats

| July 2007

Urgent actions are needed to prevent a nuclear or radiological 9/11.  Terrorists are actively seeking nuclear weapons and Radiological Dispersal Devices (RDDs) and the materials to make them.  There are scores of sites where the essential ingredients of nuclear weapons exist, in dozens of countries worldwide.  There are thousands of sites worldwide where radiological materials exist.  Many of these sites are not sufficiently secured to defeat the kinds of threats that terrorists and criminals have demonstrated they can pose.  A dangerous gap remains between the urgency of the threat of nuclear and radiological terrorism and the scope and pace of the U.S. and world response.  While the gap has narrowed significantly in recent years, much more needs to be done.  This paper describes the nuclear and radiological terrorism threats, analyzes the actions taken so far to address these threats, and recommends further actions going forward.

Journal Article - Journal of Nuclear Materials Management

Security and Damage Potential of Commercial Radioactive Sources

| Spring 2007

MTA/ISP fellow Tom Bielefeld and his co-author Helmut Fischer focus on the problem of protecting radiological sources, preventing a “dirty bomb” attack, and putting measures in place to mitigate the effects should an attack occur.