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Officials Question Readiness to Probe Nuclear Strikes Officials Question Readiness to Probe Nuclear Strikes

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Officials Question Readiness to Probe Nuclear Strikes

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Nuclear technicians handle laboratory equipment in 2013. Dozens of countries last week said it is "essential" for governments to strengthen their joint capacity to trace nuclear materials back to their origins.(International Atomic Energy Agency photo)

Dozens of officials and experts want to tighten global cooperation on analyzing atomic materials, partly to help identify perpetrators of possible nuclear strikes.

Participants in a landmark international conference said the world's ability to trace incriminating nuclear materials to their origins could improve substantially if governments work together on the matter, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.

 

They argued such collaboration would prove "essential" for nuclear forensics capabilities to keep up with the growing reach and sophistication of criminal and terror networks, the International Atomic Energy Agency added in a statement.

Still, The Vienna-based organization offered few specifics on how meeting participants want to boost collaboration.

According to one issue expert, countries could benefit from improved cooperation on creating reference libraries of nuclear materials.

 

Such databases would include "information ... and in some cases samples," Elena Sokova, executive director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation, told Global Security Newswire.

She added, though, that she had not heard of any specific "proposals for cooperation" in the works. In the past, governments have proven reluctant to offer up samples of sensitive atomic substances for international databases.

Sokova also suggested governments could cooperate on nuclear-forensics efforts by helping others to carry out investigations.

"Such cooperation could help countries with limited capabilities to call on their neighbors or others with better developed forensics capabilities and expertise to help with investigations of smuggling cases, terrorist acts, and in case of response to radiological events," the expert wrote in an e-mailed response to questions.

 

Some countries may receive help to more effectively conduct their own nuclear-forensics probes, possibly through expert training or supplies of technical equipment, Sokova added.

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