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Nuclear forensics support : reference manual by International Atomic Energy Agency

By International Atomic Energy Agency

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Nuclear forensics laboratories are outfitted and staffed to handle contaminated evidence and to accommodate the requirements of both the traditional forensic and nuclear analyses. The nuclear forensics laboratory should be an appropriately qualified and recognized facility with analytical procedures and staff qualifications that are documented and can withstand both scientific peer review and legal scrutiny. In addition, the nuclear forensics laboratory needs to be appropriately licensed to receive the evidence being shipped.

Attention should be focused on developing the databases and search tools necessary to access comprehensive national and international databases and worldwide nuclear expertise. Such databases need to be designed to provide the maximum amount of information to participating countries without compromising restricted information. Additional effort is also needed in identifying and exploiting new radioactive and traditional forensic signatures. For example, there has been 40 promising research into using natural variations in stable isotopes or the presence of trace organic or biological material as unique forensic signatures.

Closed containers, should be imaged using X ray radiography before sampling in the nuclear forensics laboratory to understand the nature of the evidence and confirm the absence of hidden explosives or other threats to examiners. Assuming that the X ray analysis shows no danger, the sampling can then proceed. It is, once again, useful to categorize the material. The additional categorization could provide new information, including the total amount of nuclear or radioactive material, and also an evaluation of the efficacy of the on-site and holding site categorizations.

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