U.S. Nuclear Forensics Skill Is Declining

Posted: July 29, 2010 in Dirty Bomb, Iran, Nuclear, Nuclear Attribution, Nuclear Forensics, Nuclear Proliferation
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Seeing Is Believing

Having the ability to attribute the characteristics of a particular nuclear weapon to a specific country is an exceedingly useful ability in responding appropriately.

For example, if a dirty bomb goes off in Tel Aviv, it’s one thing to suspect that Tehran gave Hezbollah the materials for the bomb.  It’s another to know they did it based on the nuclear fingerprints associated with the weapon.

The inability to attribute events in cyberspace back to a particular geographical point, individual, or group, has long been identified as a weakness of cyber defense.  The inability to assign attribution with a nuclear event would perhaps be a failure with an orders of magnitude greater effect.

Nuclear forensics skills, which are said to be in decline, have to be one of the most important capabilities the U.S. can fully develop. Maintaining such expertise is a vital part of deterrence.


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