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NNSA Scientist Engagement Addresses Nuclear Security Challenges

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced the approval of nearly $3 million in funding for collaborative research and development projects aimed at addressing nuclear security challenges. The projects, financed by NNSA’s Global Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (GIPP) program, will be managed jointly through the intergovernmental International Science and Technology Center (ISTC), located in the Russian Federation, and the Science and Technology Center (STCU) in Ukraine.

Most of the projects funded by NNSA will partner U.S. and foreign scientists to collaborate in areas that directly support the goals announced at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, South Korea, as well as related priorities under the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, the G8 Global Partnership Against Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction, and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540.

“The NNSA Strategic Plan calls for partnering with the international community to impede the spread of nuclear weapons technology, materials and information,” said Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “Our engagement of scientists around the world is an important tool in this international partnering effort. By leveraging our unique scientific knowledge and skills, we can advance our nuclear security agenda and directly support the international effort to fulfill the goals of the 2012 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit.”

The GIPP program mitigates the risk of expertise proliferation through science and technology collaboration and partnerships among foreign research institutions, U.S. national laboratories and U. S. industry to develop innovative technology solutions in such priority areas as nonproliferation, counterterrorism and energy security. The program leverages private sector support involving more than 150 U.S. industry partners to date, which have collectively provided more than $280 million in matching, in-kind, and cash contributions to the projects.

The GIPP-sponsored projects approved at the recent ISTC and STCU Governing Board Meetings include:

  • A project on enhancing national nuclear forensics capabilities and expertise, which partners Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) with institutes in Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova. This project will enhance the region’s ability to counter illicit nuclear and radiological material trafficking—directly contributing to a key goal of the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit and the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
  • A study of attribution signatures of uranium-bearing materials, to create a database of signatures to support nuclear forensics investigations of seized materials. In this initiative, LLNL will collaborate with four Ukrainian institutes to identify attribution signatures of different uranium-bearing material samples.
  • A technology development project for a new portable biometric scanner with high-definition measurements that will provide unique personnel identification capabilities.  In partnership with the U.S. company BIOPTid, NNSA’s Kansas City Plant will team with Ukrainian institutes to develop, build and test a prototype of this biometric scanner technology.

Scientist engagement contributes to other Department of Energy objectives as well, such as energy technology development and environmental safety. The GIPP-sponsored cooperative science projects approved at the ISTC and STCU Governing Boards also include:

  • A project with cost-share from U.S. companies American Energy Technologies and Apollo Energy Systems Inc. that will team Brookhaven National Laboratory with Ukrainian materials science experts to develop new high-temperature furnace technologies for recycling and reusing spent lithium-ion batteries from electric vehicles.
  • A project that will partner LLNL with a Georgian (Tbilisi) biochemical institute to jointly investigate the institute’s new technological approach, which uses a composite of natural materials and micro-organisms to clean up soils polluted with heavy metals, oil and other hydrocarbons, pesticides and other pollutants.

The ISTC and STCU are intergovernmental organizations, established in the mid-1990s, to deter the spread of WMD knowledge by engaging scientists and technicians in peaceful, cooperative research activities. The United States is a member of both organizations, and the combined membership of the two centers includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Norway, Georgia, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Moldova, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.