Combating Nuclear Smuggling: Efforts to Deploy Radiation Detection Equipment in the United States and in Other Countries

GAO-05-840T Published: Jun 21, 2005. Publicly Released: Jun 21, 2005.
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According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, between 1993 and 2004, there were 650 confirmed cases of illicit trafficking in nuclear and radiological materials worldwide. A significant number of the cases involved material that could be used to produce either a nuclear weapon or a device that uses conventional explosives with radioactive material (known as a "dirty bomb"). Over the past decade, the United States has become increasingly concerned about the danger that unsecured weapons-usable nuclear material could fall into the hands of terrorists or countries of concern. In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, there is heightened concern that terrorists may try to smuggle nuclear materials or a nuclear weapon into the United States. This testimony summarizes the results of our previous reports on various U.S. efforts to combat nuclear smuggling both in the United States and abroad. Specifically, this testimony discusses (1) the different U.S. federal agencies tasked with installing radiation detection equipment both domestically and in other countries, (2) problems with coordination among these agencies and programs, and (3) the effectiveness of radiation detection equipment deployed in the United States and other countries.

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