• Robots Could Help Verify Compliance with Nuclear Arms Agreements

    Ensuring that countries abide by future nuclear arms agreements will be a vital task. Inspectors may have to count warheads or confirm the removal of nuclear weapons from geographical areas. Those hotspots could include underground bunkers and require confirmation that no weapons exist in a location at all. Now, researchers have devised an automated way to ensure compliance.

  • Training for Nuclear Incidents and Preparing WMD Responses

    “Radiological material can end up in almost any location or any place and take on almost any shape and form,” an expert told participants a few weeks ago at the first Sandia Lab’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Counterterrorism and Incident Response Showcase. Preparing for nuclear incidents is not dealing with hypotheticals. “It is not practice. It is not an exercise. It is real life stuff,” he said.

  • Exploring Feasibility of Using Drones to Survey Sites for Low Levels of Radiation

    Drones are tools for search and rescue, traffic monitoring, weather monitoring, and perhaps even package hauling. One day, they may work with humans to augment the task of conducting surveys to detect low levels of radiation—information that could contribute to the decommissioning of sites no longer needed for nuclear-related energy production or research.

  • Nuclear Agency Cannot Continue With “Business as Usual” in the Shifting Supercomputing Landscape: Report

    The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) needs to fundamentally rethink the strategy for its next generation of high-performance computing, says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences.

  • Enhancing Advanced Nuclear Reactor Analysis

    Nuclear power is a significant source of steady carbon-neutral electricity, and advanced reactors can add more of it to the U.S. grid, which is vital for the environment and economy. Sandia Lab researchers have developed a standardized screening method to determine the most important radioactive isotopes that could leave an advanced reactor site in the unlikely event of an accident.

  • Discoveries in Phases of Uranium Oxide Advance Nuclear Nonproliferation

    The word “exotic” may not spark thoughts of uranium, but investigations of exotic phases of uranium are bringing new knowledge to the nuclear nonproliferation industry.

  • Was That Explosion Chemical or Nuclear?

    If an underground explosion occurs anywhere in the world, there is a good chance that a seismologist can pinpoint it. However, they won’t necessarily be able to tell you what kind of explosion had occurred—whether it is chemical or nuclear in nature.  New PNNL research makes it easier to differentiate between the two.

  • A New Way to Assess Radiation Damage in Reactors

    A new method could greatly reduce the time and expense needed for certain important safety checks in nuclear power reactors. The approach could save money and increase total power output in the short run, and it might increase plants’ safe operating lifetimes in the long run.

  • Further Indications of Iran’s Renewed Interest in Maraging Steel for its Nuclear Enrichment Program

    Maraging steel bellows are well known to be used in the IR-2m centrifuge, but Iran has not made any of these centrifuges in years, leading to speculation that the bottleneck was the maraging steel. A recent report has revealed Iran’s renewed interest in metal bellows in its advanced centrifuges.

  • Iran Can Produce Nuclear Explosive Now, and 2 Bombs within One Month of a Breakout: IAEA

    The IAEA’s new report on Iran’s nuclear status says that Iran’s breakout timeline is now at zero. Iran has enough 60 percent enriched uranium – highly enriched uranium, or HEU — to be able to produce nuclear explosive. If it wanted to enrich the 60 percent HEU to 90 percent HEU —typically called weapon-grade uranium (WGU) — it could do so within weeks. Whether or not Iran enriches its HEU up to 90 percent, it can have enough HEU for two nuclear weapons within one month after starting breakout.

  • Protecting Nuclear Waste Containers from Metal-Corroding Microbes

    Canada has about three million bundles of used nuclear fuel, which contain the solid uranium that powers nuclear reactors. They’re stored in above-ground containers at seven facilities across the country, with 90,000 added every year. The containers only last about 50 to 100 years, but used nuclear fuel must be stored for one million years before its radiation levels return to that of naturally occurring uranium ore. Canada is getting closer to moving all its spent nuclear fuel to a single facility, and encasing each fuel container in bentonite clay, and researchers are studying whether that clay could support microbial life – which could eat away at the metal containers.

  • Threshold Reached: Iranian Nuclear Breakout Timeline Now at Zero

    Iran has crossed a new, dangerous threshold: Iran’s breakout time is now at zero. It has enough 60 percent enriched uranium, or highly enriched uranium (HEU), to be assured it could fashion a nuclear explosive. If Iran wanted to further enrich its 60 percent HEU up to weapon-grade HEU, or 90 percent, it could do so within a few weeks with only a few of its advanced centrifuge cascades.

  • Iran’s Current Nuclear-Weapons Status: The Facts

    A report published in April by the Institute for Science and International Security, and an interview with David Albright, the report’s co-author, offer startling, and disturbing, insights into the rapid, and likely irreversible, progress Iran has made toward developing a workable nuclear weapon since the Trump administration, in 2018, decided to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal.

  • Iran Now Has Enough Fissile Material for One Nuclear Bomb: IAEA

    Iran has enriched enough uranium for making one Hiroshima-size nuclear bomb, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its quarterly report. The IAEA says that Iran now has around 43 kilograms (95 pounds) of uranium enriched to 60 percent (in March, Iran had 33 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60 percent). The 43 kg of 60 percent enriched uranium would yield about 22-25 kg of uranium enriched to 90 percent, which is weapon-grade.

  • Codifying Support for Nuclear Inspections in Iran

    The main obstacle for a new nuclear deal with Iran is Iran’s disregard of its safeguards commitments and defiance of standard International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) procedures are more problematic for a nuclear deal. Resolving those outstanding inspection issues offers a far more promising pathway to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons in the long run.