Detecting Clandestine Reprocessing Activities in the Middle East

Michael Schoeppner, "Detecting Clandestine Reprocessing Activities in the Middle East," Science & Global Security 26, no. 1 (2018): 3-19

Remote monitoring of krypton-85 from undeclared reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel could be part of a fissile material cut-off treaty, could serve as an additional measure for the IAEA safeguards system to monitor compliance with the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty, and could be an important verification tool of a reprocessing moratorium or Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East or East Asia. Atmospheric transport modelling is applied to determine the area over which krypton-85 emissions from undeclared reprocessing activities at various levels in the Middle East would still be detectable against the high krypton-85 background from reprocessing in historical weapon programs in the United States and USSR as well as more recent and ongoing commercial reprocessing in France and the U.K. Analysis of annual wind flow over Israel's Dimona facility, the only operating reprocessing site in the region, suggests that a known reprocessing plant could be monitored with one or a few fixed monitoring stations. Random air sampling for krypton-85 analysis, perhaps using drones, may be feasible for reliable and timely detection of clandestine reprocessing plants against the krypton-85 background but would require on the order of 50?100 air samples per day. Ending reprocessing at La Hague in France and at Sellafield in the UK and the resulting decline of the krypton-85 background over time would reduce to about 10 the number of daily samples required to monitor the Middle East.

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