IAEA conducts mock nuclear weapons inspection exercise

The U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory recently hosted a group of 12 inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) who conducted a mock complementary access (CA) exercise at the facility.

The exercise also included five senior IAEA staff who acted as facilitators and instructors. Staff from Brookhaven's Nonproliferation and National Security Department and an expert from Los Alamos National Laboratory also attended the exercise scenario, which portrayed Brookhaven as the fictitious country of Freedonia, which had a clandestine nuclear program.

The inspectors conducted a set of CAs to determine whether Freedonia had eliminated its weapons program or continued to develop it in secret. The inspectors visited select research facilities at Brookhaven where clues were left indicating there was a nuclear weapons program.

"This particular course is one of the most complex because it combines knowledge and skill of various natures to be able to understand and verify the full range of nuclear activities conducted on a site," Kostadin Dinov, the Safeguards Training Development officer at the IAEA and chief facilitator for the course, said. "There are declared nuclear activities, but others might go undeclared so collecting, processing and verifying information require inspectors and analysts to have a comprehensive understanding of not only technical issues, but also legal rights and obligations."