WASHINGTON, Aug. 2 (UPI) — The United States is losing the nuclear forensics skills that could help identify the source of a nuclear weapon used in a terrorist attack, a report says.
The highly specialized detective work, called nuclear attribution, studies clues from fallout and radioactive debris to discover the identity of the attacker and the source or manufacturer of the weapon, a National Research Council study published last week said.
Arguing that nuclear terrorism is a serious, long-term threat to the United States, federal officials have sought to improve such analytic skills in recent years.
The NRC report, requested by the Department of Homeland Security, the Defense Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration, found U.S. forensic abilities “fragile, under resourced and, in some respects, deteriorating.”
“Without strong leadership, careful planning and additional funds, these capabilities will decline,” the report warned.
Most of those capabilities are in the laboratories that maintain the nation’s nuclear arsenal that had their heyday during the cold war but are now struggling to attract personnel, get funding for projects and establish new identities, the report said.
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