Expert Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

Nuclear forensics is the examination and evaluation of discovered or seized nuclear materials and devices or, in cases of nuclear explosions or radiological dispersals, of detonation signals and post-detonation debris. Nuclear forensic evidence helps law enforcement and intelligence agencies work toward preventing, mitigating, and attributing a nuclear or radiological incident. This report, requested by the Department of Homeland Security, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Department of Defense, makes recommendations on how to sustain and improve U.S. nuclear forensics capabilities. The United States has developed a nuclear forensics capability that has been demonstrated in real-world incidents of interdicted materials and in exercises of actions required after a nuclear detonation. The report's authoring committee, however, raises concerns about the program and finds that without strong leadership, careful planning, and additional funds, U.S. nuclear forensics capabilities will decline.