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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

MONITORING NUCLEAR WEAPONS AND NUCLEAR-EXPLOSIVE MATERIALS

Committee on International Security and Arms Control

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
500 FIFTH STREET, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was ap proved by the Council of the National Academy of Sciences. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

Financial Support: The development of this report was supported by the Department of Energy, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and funds from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.

International Standard Book Number 0-309-09597-2

Additional copies of this report are available from
National Academies Press,
2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, D.C. 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu.

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Copyright 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND ARMS CONTROL

As of December 31, 2004

John P. Holdren (NAS, NAE), Chair,

Harvard University

John D. Steinbruner, Vice Chair for Studies,

University of Maryland, College Park

Catherine McArdle Kelleher, Vice Chair for Dialogues,

U.S. Naval War College

William F. Burns, Study Co-Chair, Major General (USA, Ret.); former director,

U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

George Lee Butler, General (USAF, Ret.)*

Christopher Chyba,

Stanford University

Stephen P. Cohen,

The Brookings Institution

Susan Eisenhower,

The Eisenhower Institute**

Steve Fetter, Study Co-Chair,

University of Maryland, College Park

Alexander H. Flax (NAE), National Academy of Engineering (retired); former president,

Institute for Defense Analyses

Richard L. Garwin (NAS, NAE, IOM),

Thomas J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corporation

Rose Gottemoeller,

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Margaret A. Hamburg, (IOM),

The Nuclear Threat Initiative

Raymond Jeanloz (NAS),

University of California, Berkeley

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., (Study Editor-in-Chief), The National Academies; former director,

Arms Control Association

Charles Larson, Admiral (USN, Ret.)***

Joshua Lederberg (NAS, IOM),

The Rockefeller University**

Matthew Meselson (NAS, IOM),

Harvard University

Albert Narath (NAE), Lockheed Martin Corporation (retired); former director,

Sandia National Laboratories

Wolfgang K.H. Panofsky (NAS),

Stanford University

C. Kumar N. Patel (NAS, NAE),

Pranalytica, Inc

Jonathan D. Pollack,

U.S. Naval War College

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

*  

Until March 3, 2001

**  

Did not participate in the study

***  

Until June 14, 2002

Staff:

Jo L. Husbands, Director

David Hafemeister, Study Director (Until December 2002)

Christopher Eldridge, Program Officer

Benjamin Rusek, Research Associate

La’Faye Lewis-Oliver, Administrative Associate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

Preface

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the first test of a nuclear weapon at Alamogordo, New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Within the next month, the United States dropped two nuclear weapons on Japan—on Hiroshima on August 6th and on Nagasaki on August 9th. We must all be profoundly thankful that no other nuclear weapons have been used in war since that time. The scientific and technical community, working with experts in many other fields, has played an essential role in the efforts that have prevented the further use of nuclear weapons thus far. But we are all too aware that one of the greatest challenges facing the world today is how to prevent their use in the future, either by nations or by terrorists.

The year 2005 also marks the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Committee on International Security and Arms (CISAC) by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). CISAC was formed at a time when the risks to the world from nuclear weapons seemed to be increasing. During a time of extraordinary tensions in U.S.-Soviet relations, CISAC provided a nongovernmental channel of communication between Soviet and American scientists, as a vehicle for exploring ways to reduce nuclear dangers. For several years, the private, off-the-record dialogue between CISAC and its Soviet counterpart group was one of the few links through which well-informed, policy-connected individuals on the two sides could interact to pursue solutions to key technical problems related to nuclear arms control. Even after formal U.S.-Soviet arms control negotiations resumed, the CISAC-initiated dialogues continued to be invaluable, offering a vehicle for “back channel” discussions that were both less constrained and more analytical than those being pursued officially.

In the 25 years since it was founded, CISAC has broadened its efforts to include: bilateral dialogues and related workshops with similarly constituted groups in China and India; bilateral and multilateral meetings with European academies; the conduct of major studies of security and arms control problems and policies; the instigation of additional studies by specially constituted panels within the National Academies; and the organization of symposia and workshops to inform Academy members, the wider technical community, and the public at large about key issues at the intersection of science and technology with international security. These CISAC efforts have ad-

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

dressed not only nuclear issues, but also those connected with chemical and biological weapons, space weaponry and national missile defense, and conventional forces and the arms trade.

Two thousand and four brought a number of major changes to CISAC, including John Holdren’s decision to retire as chair at the end of the calendar year, after over 10 years in that role. Under John’s outstanding leadership, a number of CISAC studies have been carried out that have helped to shape the debate in the United States and overseas about critical technical issues, as well as about larger questions concerning the directions of nuclear weapons policy. And CISAC’s dialogues have remained a source of ideas and continuing contact with influential counterparts in countries vital to U.S. security interests. CISAC's long record of success has made the committee a positive force in policy formation—both by the U.S. government and overseas.

In this study, CISAC tackles the technical dimensions of a long-standing controversy: To what extent could existing and plausibly attainable measures for transparency and monitoring make possible the verification of all nuclear weapons—strategic and nonstrategic, deployed and nondeployed—plus the nuclear-explosive components and materials that are their essential ingredients? The committee’s assessment of the technical and organizational possibilities suggests a more optimistic conclusion than most of those concerned with these issues might have expected.

The study began with a request from the Department of Energy in 2000 to examine the potential for a more comprehensive approach to nuclear arms reduction. U.S. policy changed over the ensuing years in ways that reduced the immediate interest in more comprehensive formal agreements. But it became clear to the committee that the study's original technical focus on transparency and monitoring measures and methods would remain germane under a wide range of possible policy priorities, including the growing emphasis on nonproliferation and prevention of access to nuclear weapons and materials by terrorists. In fact, this report will be highly relevant to policy-makers and analysts of a variety of political persuasions and policy preferences.

Many committee members and staff have contributed to the final product presented here. The study chairs were Steve Fetter of the University of Maryland and Major General William F. Burns (USA, Ret.), reflecting CISAC’s belief in the benefits that come from combining technical and policy expertise to address critical security problems. Their continuing dedication and patience through a long study process, as well as their central intellectual contributions to the effort,

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

were indispensable. Spurgeon Keeny, CISAC member and Visiting Senior Fellow of the National Academies, served as Editor in Chief for the project starting in 2002, guiding the writing effort through multiple drafts to its successful completion. Substantial portions of the report were also drafted by then CISAC chair John P. Holdren of Harvard University and by CISAC chair emeritus, Pief Panofsky of Stanford University. Over the course of the study, all members of CISAC contributed key ideas and critical commentary leading to the final product.

A number of staff also contributed greatly to the study. David Hafemeister served as the initial study director and established the project’s technical foundation. Christopher Eldridge and Ben Rusek provided essential research support at important stages of the project, and key portions of the study reflect their contributions. Matthew Bunn of Harvard University also served as an unpaid consultant and provided invaluable assistance, particularly on issues related to nuclear-explosive materials. La’Faye Lewis-Oliver ensured that the entire administrative process functioned smoothly, and Amy Giamis provided additional administrative support. Finally, CISAC staff director Jo Husbands undertook the challenge of ensuring that all of the contributions came to fruition, and she participated in the study as an intellectual partner.

The current report continues CISAC’s tradition of providing quality technical analysis of relevance to key policy problems. The basic architecture for verification assessed in this study is built upon transparency and monitoring. It applies whether the focus is a few containers of nuclear-explosive material or an extensive nuclear stockpile containing thousands of intact weapons, weapons components, and many tons of nuclear-explosive material. The committee argues that these methods and capabilities are highly relevant to U.S. and international efforts to “address the urgent and interrelated goals of reducing the dangers from existing nuclear arsenals, minimizing the spread of nuclear weaponry to additional states, and preventing the acquisition of nuclear weapons by terrorists.” I agree.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to John Holdren, Pief Panofsky, Spurgeon Keeny, and the other CISAC veterans who have now transitioned to become Senior Advisors to this committee. Their many years of dedicated service have made a tremendous contribution to both the nation and the world.

Bruce Alberts

President

National Academy of Sciences

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

Acknowledgments

This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Victor Alessi, United States Industry Coalition, Inc.; Paul Bracken, Yale University; Sidney Drell (retired), Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; Thomas Graham, Jr., Morgan Lewis and Bockius LLP; Roger Hagengruber, University of New Mexico; Robert Monroe, Bechtel Corporation; Leonard Spector, Monterey Institute Center for Nonproliferation Studies; and Frank von Hippel, Princeton University.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Harold Forsen (retired), Bechtel Corporation and Gerald Dinneen (retired), Honeywell, Inc. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

The Committee on International Security and Arms Control (CISAC) is a standing committee of the National Academy of Sciences. For purposes of administration, CISAC is part of the Policy and Global Affairs Division of the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

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×

Contents

 

 

Executive Summary

 

1

1

 

Introduction

 

15

   

 The Scope of the Study,

 

15

   

 Context,

 

17

   

 Historical Perspective,

 

20

   

 Limiting Existing Nuclear Arsenals,

 

21

   

 Preventing the Spread of Nuclear Weapons,

 

27

   

 Limiting Nuclear Tests,

 

30

   

 Securing Nuclear Weapons and NEM,

 

33

   

 Approaches to Implementing Transparency and Monitoring Measures,

 

37

   

 The Study,

 

39

2

 

Nuclear Weapons

 

45

   

 Declarations of Nuclear Weapons Stocks,

 

47

   

 Proposals for U.S.-Russian Declarations,

 

48

   

 Levels of Detail in Stockpile Declarations,

 

52

   

 Secure Declarations,

 

56

   

 Frequency and Confidentiality of Declarations,

 

59

   

 Confirming Weapon Declarations,

 

60

   

 Operationally Deployed Weapons on Missiles,

 

61

   

 Stored Nuclear Weapons,

 

65

   

 Continuous Monitoring of Weapon Stocks,

 

69

   

 Confirming Weapon Elimination,

 

73

   

 Confirming Weapon Remanufacture and Assembly,

 

77

   

 Transparency Measures for NEM Components,

 

81

   

 Conclusions,

 

85

3

 

Nuclear-Explosive Materials

 

109

   

 Definition, Characteristics, and Production of NEM,

 

110

   

 Types of NEM,

 

111

   

 Key Characteristics of NEM,

 

114

   

 Pathways to Obtain NEM,

 

114

   

 Stocks and Flows of NEM in the Military and Civil Sectors,

 

118

   

 World Military and Civilian NEM Stockpiles,

 

118

   

 Flows of NEM,

 

120

   

 NEM Transparency and Monitoring: General Issues,

 

122

   

 Comparing the Transparency Challenges of NEM and Nuclear Weapons,

 

123

   

 Transparency and Monitoring for NEM: History, Status, and the Road Ahead,

 

130

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×
   

 U.S.-Russian Transparency and Monitoring Efforts for Military NEM,

 

131

   

 International Monitoring of Excess Military NEM,

 

138

   

 Transparency and Monitoring for Civil NEM,

 

142

   

 Reducing NEM Stocks, Flows, and Sites,

 

149

   

 Conversion of Research Reactors from HEU,

 

150

   

 Minimizing NEM Stocks, Flows, and Sites in Civil Nuclear Energy Generation,

 

154

   

 Other Actions to Consolidate NEM at Fewer Sites,

 

163

   

 Cutoff of Production of NEM for Weapons,

 

166

   

 Final Disposition of NEM,

 

171

   

 Conclusions,

 

180

4

 

Clandestine Stocks and Production of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials

 

183

   

 Detecting Undeclared Stocks of Weapons and NEM,

 

185

   

 National Technical Means,

 

185

   

 Human Sources,

 

186

   

 Audits of Records,

 

188

   

 Physical Evidence,

 

190

   

 South Africa: Verifying the Completeness of Declarations,

 

192

   

 Uncertainties in Weapon and NEM Stockpiles,

 

194

   

 Detecting Undeclared Production of Weapons and NEM,

 

198

   

 National Technical Means,

 

200

   

 Human Sources,

 

202

   

 Environmental Sampling and Monitoring,

 

202

   

 On-site Inspections,

 

206

   

 Detection of Nuclear Weapon Programs by U.S. Intelligence,

 

208

   

 Conclusions,

 

215

5

 

General Conclusions

 

217

 

 

Appendices

 

 

A

 

Physics and Technology of Nuclear-Explosive Material,

 

221

   

 NEM and Fissile Materials,

 

221

   

 Reactivity, Critical Mass, and Explosive Yield,

 

222

   

 Production Technologies for NEM,

 

226

   

 Denaturing Plutonium,

 

231

   

 History of Military Production of NEM,

 

232

   

 NEM in the Civilian Sector,

 

233

B

 

Acronyms,

 

245

C

 

Biographical Sketches of Committee Members,

 

247

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
×

Figures, Tables, and Boxes

Figures

2-1

 

Life Cycle of a Nuclear Weapon,

 

46

2-2

 

Illustrative Examples of the Probability of Detection,

 

64

2-3

 

Storage Bunkers at the Pantex Weapon Assembly Plant in Texas,

 

66

3-1

 

Production, Utilization, and Disposition Flows for HEU and Plutonium,

 

117

4-1

 

Key Elements of a Program to Produce Nuclear Weapons,

 

199

Tables

2-1

 

Illustrative Levels of Detail for Declarations of Weapon Inventories,

 

52

3-1

 

Compositions of Various Grades of Plutonium,

 

116

3-2

 

ISIS Estimates of Global Inventories of Plutonium and HEU,

 

119

4-1

 

Routes to Undeclared Nuclear Weapons,

 

184

4-2

 

Uncertainties in Plutonium and HEU Inventories,

 

195

A-1

 

Properties of Nuclear-Explosive Nuclides,

 

222

A-2

 

Heat, Radioactivity and Radiation from Various Nuclear Materials,

 

224

Boxes

1-1

 

Specialized Terms,

 

40

1-2

 

Key Dates in Nuclear History,

 

42

2-1

 

What Is a “Nuclear Weapon”?,

 

89

2-2

 

Encrypted Messages and Message Digests,

 

92

2-3

 

Tags and Seals,

 

95

2-4

 

Identifying Nuclear Weapons and Weapon Components: Templates, Attributes, and Information Barriers,

 

97

2-4A

 

Template Identification,

 

99

2-4B

 

Attribute Identification,

 

104

2-4C

 

Information Barriers,

 

107

4-1

 

Accounting Uncertainty and the Probability of Statistical Detection,

 

196

A-1

 

Uranium Enrichment Inputs and Outputs,

 

236

A-2

 

Reactor Types and Terminology,

 

239

A-3

 

Reactor Size and Performance,

 

242

A-4

 

History of Plutonium Production Reactors,

 

244

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2005. Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11265.
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In this study, CISAC tackles the technical dimensions of a longstanding controversy: To what extent could existing and plausibly attainable measures for transparency and monitoring make possible the verification of all nuclear weapons—strategic and nonstrategic, deployed and nondeployed—plus the nuclear-explosive components and materials that are their essential ingredients? The committee’s assessment of the technical and organizational possibilities suggests a more optimistic conclusion than most of those concerned with these issues might have expected.

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