Many industrialized countries now have some form of nuclear power under control of the government. With schematics on how to produce weapons readily available, it has become increasingly likely that a terrorist group will resort to creating their own nuclear weapons in the near future by stealing some of these resources. The amount of plutonium or uranium that is needed to make a bomb is only a small percentage of the entire supply of material stored by each country. Additionally, increased tensions between industrialized countries may lead to threats of nuclear war, although these conflicts may be better solved with diplomacy in lieu of technology. Keeping these nuclear resources and weapons out of the hands of terrorists by using enhanced security is the main focus of our project. A method of detecting lost nuclear material or illegally transported weapons is the solution we will investigate.
Enhanced nuclear security provides safety for all citizens, and benefits political tensions and overall cohesion of world powers. An automatic method to detect anomalies in nuclear storage and facilitation would provide a fast, efficient solution to the threat of terror organizations. Current methods of detection of such nuclear materials include gamma ray and neutron detection. Gamma rays are useful to detect more common elements that may be used in weapons, such as cobalt or cesium. However, false alarms can go off when a person that has recently had radiation treatment stands nearby, or even in the presence of a large shipment of bananas. Additionally, highly expensive neutron detectors (cost-prohibitive as a result of rare Helium-3 gas) may provide a solution: these devices only detect dangerous materials, meaning less false positives.
A potential feature of the security system could be a real time response, where the stolen/illegal nuclear materials can be contained before leaking out into the world, instead of the system simply alerting the proper authorities. This ensures that even if a terrorist group is able to attain the materials, they may not even be usable. This extra layer of protection may also serve as a deterrent for stealing the material in the first place.
Enhanced security of nuclear substances and weapons benefits everyone because it can save the lives of every individual. Nuclear terror is a challenge that affects every individual no matter, race, nationality, socio-economic status or upbringing. The threat of nuclear terror is one that every nation fears because no nation can control it just yet. In addition, political tensions with countries like the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea could rapidly de-escalate and the threat of a terror group using a dirty nuclear bomb would significantly decrease if there are strong security measures in place for the reactors and for the transit of these radioactive materials like Uranium and Plutonium. Enhanced security of nuclear substances will benefit the world by creating a safer environment to live in. It causes peace of mind, better living quality and more trust in the world community and trust in the government.
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