Document-Based Nuclear Archaeology

Ole Reistad, Alex Glaser, Rebecca D. Frank, Sindre H. Kaald, "Document-Based Nuclear Archaeology," Science & Global Security 30, no. 2 (2022): 95-107

Deeper reductions in the nuclear arsenals will require better understanding of historic fissile material management and production. The concept of "nuclear archaeology" has been considered since the 1990s to provide the tools and methods to develop independent production estimates, primarily based on nuclear forensic techniques. Here, we propose to add a framework for reconstructing the history of a nuclear program that complements traditional nuclear archaeology techniques by examining the role of operating records to support such an effort. As a test case, we use the JEEP II reactor, a 2-MW civilian research reactor at Norway?s Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), in operation for more than fifty years, however, recently shut down permanently. We have collected, analyzed, and started to preserve the reactor?s operating records, which exist on both analog and digital media, and to simulate parts of its history using OpenMC/ONIX neutronics calculations. A particular focus of this project has been on digital data curation and preservation to confirm and maintain the integrity, authenticity, and provenance of these records. In developing guidelines for best practices that conform to existing standards for long-term digital preservation and curation, we hope this project can help lay the basis for future nuclear archaeology efforts to support nuclear arms control and disarmament.

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