Active Neutron Interrogation As A Method For Verification Of The Absence Of Special Nuclear Material In Arms Control Dismantlement

David L. Chichester - Idaho National Laboratory
Scott J. Thompson - Idaho National Laboratory
Scott M. Watson - Idaho National Laboratory
James T. Johnson - Idaho National Laboratory
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The next step in arms control reductions will deal with both strategic and non-strategic weapons, presenting new and hard challenges for verification. One verification approach that might be used in support of these reductions is the concept of deferred verification, which forgoes inspections at sensitive nuclear sites and relies on an inspection regime having access to the open segment of a State's nuclear sector, in "monitored transfer zones." A component of this approach is the anticipated need for an instrument suite capable of detecting well-shielded highly-enriched uranium or plutonium where it isn't supposed to be. This specific need was recently identified by the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research in an enabling operating concept they call "contain and dispose." At the foundation of this approach is the idea that items declared as "not nuclear" are, by definition, not treaty limited and are thus "fair-game" for inspection and questioning. Active Neutron Interrogation (ANI), using beta-delayed neutron emissions as the signature for special nuclear material (SNM) detection, is a promising method to address this challenge. The method is quick, has high sensitivity and high specificity for detecting shielded SNM, is robust against changing background radiation environments, is robust against the presence of unknown shielding, and avoids the use of gamma-ray spectrometry which may introduce complications due to the potential release of sensitive information. This paper will present recent research activities exploring technical aspects of using ANI as a FAIRGAME verification method and discuss future prospects and research needs.