The independent resource on global security

The New Nuclear Forensics

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN 978-0-19-873664-6
pp. 280

Nuclear forensics is the science of determining the history of a sample of radioactive material through the study of the material's characteristics. While nuclear forensic analysis has normally been associated with investigations and prosecutions in the context of trafficking of nuclear materials or nuclear terrorism, it has wider applications in various national security contexts, such as nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control.

The New Nuclear Forensics provides a survey and an analysis of the scientific discipline of nuclear forensic analysis, and the way it is applied to specific issues of international peace and security, from the 1940s to the present day. This book describes the various methods used in nuclear forensics, giving first a general introduction to the process followed by details of relevant measurement techniques and procedures. In each case, the advantages and limitations are outlined. It uses a language and methodology that opens the issue of nuclear forensics and its potential applications to a non-specialist readership.

This project could be realized with support of the European Commission providing funding through the Directorate-General for Migration and Home Affairs. 


1. Introduction. Analysis of Nuclear Materials for Security Purposes

Vitaly Fedchenko


Part I. Nuclear Forensic Methods

2. The Process of Nuclear Forensic Analysis

Vitaly Fedchenko

Appendix 2A.: Sophie Grape: Basic Facts and Definitions Related to Measurements

3. Inorganic Mass Spectrometry as a Tool of Destructive Nuclear Forensic Analysis

Klaus Mayer, Maria Wallenius, Zsolt Varga, Magnus Hedberg and Nicole Erdmann

4. Gamma Spectroscopy as a Tool of Non-destructive Nuclear Forensic Analysis: further comments

Sophie Grape

5. Sample Characteristics and Nuclear Forensic Signatures

Klaus Mayer, Maria Wallenius and Zsolt Varga

6. Radionuclides and Signatures Relevant for Post-explosion Environments

Lars-Erik de Geer


Part II. Nuclear Forensics in Practice

7. The Origins of Nuclear Forensic Analysis I: the United States and the Soviet Union

Vitaly Fedchenko

8. The Origins of Nuclear Forensic Analysis II: analysis of nuclear weapon debris in Sweden

Lars-Erik de Geer

Appendix 8A: Lars-Erik de Geer: Detection by Sweden of Chinese Nuclear Tests in the Atmosphere

9. Applications of Nuclear Forensic Analysis

Vitaly Fedchenko and Robert Kelley


Vitaly Fedchenko is a Senior Researcher in the SIPRI Weapons of Mass Destruction Programme.