Experts from U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories, including Sandia National Laboratories, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, are participating in the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14), a large-scale field exercise under way from November to December in Jordan.

At IFE14, more than 200 technical experts from over 40 countries are conducting a mock on-site inspection (OSI) in the Dead Sea Area for evidence of a nuclear explosion. Under the CTBT, any country party to the Treaty can submit an OSI request to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in order to verify whether a suspicious seismic event is a nuclear detonation. Once an OSI request is submitted to the CTBTO, the clock starts ticking; an international team of 40 inspectors has to receive a comprehensive briefing about the suspicious event, within nine days travel to the area of the suspected nuclear explosion, and help the CTBTO move and set-up about 120 tons of inspection equipment and supplies at the base of operations. Keeping time is pivotal during the first few days of an OSI, as some of the conclusive evidence of a nuclear explosion, such as seismic aftershocks and short-lived radionuclides, can only be found during the first several days.

Members of the international IFE14 Inspection Team conduct environmental samplin

The inspection phase immediately follows the prep-work; inspectors have 25 days to probe the site using techniques such as visual observation, multi-spectral imaging and radioactivity measurements. The inspectors then submit a progress report, which can extend the inspection period and open up a gamut of new, more intrusive inspection techniques depending on the report’s findings. Inspectors at IFE14 will apply most of the inspection techniques listed in the Treaty, which is more comprehensive compared to the previous IFE in Kazakhstan in 2008, making IFE14 the largest and most technologically advanced field exercise ever conducted by the CTBTO.

Once the inspection phase is over, the inspectors work with the CTBTO to develop the final inspection report, which will help the CTBT Executive Council determine whether the Treaty was violated. Although the Treaty has not yet entered into force, inspection exercises such as IFE14 play a critical role in improving the mechanics of the inspection process and ensuring the operational capability and readiness for entry into force of the Treaty.


DOE/NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, Anne Harrington, visited IFE14 in mid-November to observe parts of the exercise at the designated base of operations. Along with U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller and other VIP Observers from over 25countries and international organizations, Deputy Administrator Harrington had an opportunity to discuss the IFE14 exercise with CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo and HRH Prince Feisal Bin Al Hussein of Jordan during a VIP Observers event.

Regular IFE14 updates can be found at http://ctbto.org/specials/integrated-field-exercise-2014/.

Vist CTBTO Flickr page for additional pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ctbto

More detail about the IFE14 process can be found at: http://www.ctbto.org/fileadmin/user_upload/pdf/IFE-14_Final_corrected_SinglePages_WEB.pdf

Nov 28, 2014 at 9:00 am

Sandia National Laboratories President and Labs Director Paul Hommert signs a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science’s executive director Charles Walter and foundation executive director Jotina Trussell.

In the MOU, Sandia agrees to serve as a technical resource in identifying and developing programs, exhibits and speakers that will help extend the education of the community in the fields of space and space exploration, energy and alternative energy, water, and micro- and nanotechnology. The museum will help evaluate technological and educational initiatives of possible interest to Albuquerque and the region.

Read more.


About the photo:
Sandia National Laboratories President and Labs Director Paul Hommert (center) with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science’s Executive Director Charles Walter and Foundation Executive Director Jotina Trussell ink an MOU.

Nov 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm

Melissa A. Scholz has been selected as the recipient of this year’s Linton F. Brooks Medal for Dedication to Public Service. Established in 2008, the medal recognizes newer employees whose actions and deeds exemplify the spirit of public service commitment.

Scholz is a Foreign Affairs Specialist assigned to Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation’s Office of Nuclear Safeguards. She joined NNSA after a year as a Fellow in the NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program. Since 2010, she has managed the Human Capital Development program of NNSA’s Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI) and is the Department’s point person for implementing DOE’s obligations under the Additional Protocol to the U.S.-IAEA safeguards agreement. Recently, she assumed responsibilities for NGSI’s Concepts and Approaches portfolio as well as managing the Eligible Facilities List for the U.S.-IAEA safeguards agreement.

Nominees for the Linton F. Brooks Medal for Public Service must be NNSA employees, with fewer than five years of civilian federal service and fewer than five years of professional experience, whose work achievements demonstrate an exceptional commitment to public service excellence.

Scholz holds a Master of Arts from the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Science from the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She lives in Manassas, Va, with her husband and their three dogs.

 NNSA Blog

About the photo:
Former NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks (left) and DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz  present the Linton F. Brooks Medal for Dedication to Public Service to Melissa A. Scholz, Foreign Affairs Specialist assigned to NNSA's Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation’s Office of Nuclear Safeguards. Photo by Kenneth Shipp.

Nov 22, 2014 at 3:00 pm

Bob Raines, NNSA Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management (APM), recently presented the Gold Medal of Excellence to Scott Samuelson, Senior Advisor for APM. The medal is the highest honorary award granted by NNSA and was presented to Samuelson in recognition to his dedication and commitment to NNSA.

Samuelson will retire at the end of November with more than 30 years of dedicated federal service. Nearly 25 of those years have been in senior leadership positions within the Department of Energy, serving within DOE’s Offices of Nuclear Energy and the Office of Science and NNSA’s Offices of Defense Programs and Acquisition and Project Management. 

Samuelson was honored for his accomplishments in establishing an effective oversight organization for the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to negotiating the close out of the Uranium Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation Program. He was also recognized for helping to deliver the $3.5 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF) for which he was selected as the DOE Federal Project Director of the Year in 2009, the next year the NIF Project was recognized by the prestigious Project Management Institute as the Project of the Year.


About the photo:
Bob Raines (right) presents the Gold Medal of Excellence to Scott Samuelson.

Nov 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm

Mark Hart, a scientist and engineer in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Defense Technologies Division, has been awarded the 2015 Surety Transformation Initiative (STI) Award from the NNSA Enhanced Surety Program.

The STI award aims to stimulate and encourage the development of potentially transformational nuclear weapon surety technologies and explore innovative, preferably monumental shift solutions, to unmet surety needs.

Read more. See Hart on YouTube.

NNSA BlogAbout the photo:
Mark Hart, from LLNL, has developed a new approach for ensuring nuclear weapons and their components can't fall prey to unauthorized use. The beauty of his approach: Let the weapon protect itself.

Nov 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists’ search for new ways to solve large complex national security problems led to the top ranking on Graph 500 and new techniques for solving large graph problems on small high performance computing (HPC) systems, all the way down to a single server.

Lawrence Livermore’s Sequoia supercomputer, a 20-petaflop IBM Blue Gene/Q system, achieved the world’s best performance on the Graph 500 data analytics benchmark, announced yesterday at SC14 in New Orleans, La.

Read more.


About the photo: Lawrence Livermore's Sequoia ranked No. 1 on the Graph 500 list for using new techniques to solve large complex national security problems.

Nov 19, 2014 at 11:00 am

Sandia National Laboratories’ Cooperative Monitoring Center is celebrating its 20th anniversary of promoting the principles of cooperation and the value of technology in support of international security agreements.

Since it was established in 1994, the CMC has worked to address critical security issues by bringing together policy and technical experts from different nations.

Read more.


About the photo:
In this 1998 photo, Kent Biringer, manager of International Nuclear Threat Reduction, meets with visiting scholars from Pakistan and India at the Cooperative Monitoring Center. The two men were investigating missile transparency between their countries during a visit to the CMC.

Nov 18, 2014 at 4:04 pm

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) has entered a contract with IBM to deliver a next-generation supercomputer in 2017. The system, to be called Sierra, will serve NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing program.

Procurement of Sierra is part of DOE-sponsored Collaboration of Oak Ridge, Argonne and Lawrence Livermore national labs (CORAL) to accelerate the development of high performance computing. CORAL will result in delivery to each laboratory of a supercomputer expected to provide about five times the performance of today’s top systems.

Under the contracts, Livermore and Oak Ridge will work with IBM, NVIDIA and Mellanox to deploy systems of about 150 petaflops to advance science and ensure national security. Argonne is expected to finalize a contract at a later date.

Read more.

Nov 17, 2014 at 12:00 am

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Symposium on International Safeguards, which takes place every four years in Vienna, Austria, began Monday October 20 with a plenary session featuring remarks from IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano and a keynote address by Department of Energy / National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) Assistant Deputy Administrator for Nonproliferation and International Security Kasia Mendelsohn. 

In her remarks to some 700 symposium participants, Ms. Mendelsohn complimented the IAEA for its efforts to implement strengthened safeguards to address ever-increasing challenges to the nonproliferation regime.  “More than ever,” she stressed, “IAEA safeguards are an essential element of the nuclear nonproliferation regime and of international efforts to verify the peaceful uses of atomic energy.”  Mendelsohn thanked the Secretariat for going to “extraordinary lengths over the last year to explain how safeguards implementation has evolved, particularly at the level of the state as a whole.” 

While discussing the challenges posed by the greater availability of proliferation-sensitive information and the growing number of countries with nuclear activities, she encouraged symposium participants to consider and identify options to help the IAEA, as appropriate, find the best possible technologies, procedures, and practices for safeguards implementation.  She emphasized that “nuclear nonproliferation is a global challenge and the entire global community has a major stake in maintaining the effectiveness and credibility of the international safeguards system.” 

Noting that “the United States has long considered the international safeguards system to be a central pillar of the nuclear nonproliferation regime’s strategy for preventing the spread of nuclear weapons,” Mendelsohn talked in detail about U.S. contributions to the IAEA safeguards system, including the U.S. Support Program (USSP) for IAEA Safeguards and DOE/NNSA’s Next Generation Safeguards Initiative (NGSI).  

In this context, she summed up her remarks by urging the assembled experts at the symposium to work together “to make real progress on promoting peaceful uses of nuclear energy, strengthening safeguards, and preventing proliferation.” 

The Symposium featured more than 300 presentations, including 43 from DOE/NNSA headquarters and the National Laboratories.  DOE/NNSA representatives also chaired or co-chaired seven technical sessions featuring topics such as nondestructive assay (NDA) measurements, training and education in nuclear nonproliferation and safeguards, new trends in the application of statistical methods for safeguards, challenges in spent fuel verification, and safeguards by design. 

Click here to visit the 2014 IAEA Safeguards Symposium website, which includes a 6-minute video of conference highlights.


Nov 14, 2014 at 1:00 pm

More than 65 contractor and federal employees from 20 organizations recently met at the Y-12 National Security Complex to share safety culture best practices and lessons learned. The two-day workshop featured more than two dozen presentations on creating and improving workplace safety culture, including sessions on developing monitoring panels, assessing performance, and improving trust and communication.

NPO and CNS sponsored the event, which drew participants from DOE, NNSA, the national labs (Lawrence Livermore, Oak Ridge, Sandia and Idaho), production and environmental management sites (Y-12, Pantex, Savannah River, Kansas City, Nevada, ETTP and WTP), local organizations (Isotek Systems and ORAU) and labor representatives from the Atomic Trades and Labor Council, International Guards Union of America and Knoxville Building and Construction Trades Council.


About the photo
Advisor Rizwan Shah and CNS Safety Culture Program Manager Paul Wasilko welcome participants to the best practices workshop held at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Nov 13, 2014 at 3:51 pm