General Lab Information

NNSS Course Description

Nuclear Nonproliferation, Safeguards, and Security (NNSS) in the 21st Century

The course begins with a primer on the nuclear fuel cycle, highlighting the inextricable link between the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the risk of proliferation. Historical material starts with early efforts to internationalize the nuclear fuel cycle and continues through Atoms for Peace, President Eisenhower’s initiative to share the benefits of nuclear energy. The course reviews the negotiation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and assesses the outcome. This is used to illustrate underlying issues, many of which remain today, especially the establishment in the Treaty of non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-weapon states and the tension between the pursuit of full fuel-cycles and the risk of proliferation. Then a series of lectures explores the history of peaceful uses of nuclear energy and the development of the IAEA safeguards system.

Lectures address such topics as the structure of NPT comprehensive safeguards agreements, material balance accounting, the design of safeguards approaches, and inspection tools and measurements. Because of their nonproliferation significance, IAEA verification approaches at enrichment and reprocessing plants are covered. Special attention is paid to the strengthened safeguards system (including the Model Additional Protocol), which was triggered by the 1991 discovery of Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program and whose evolution continues today.

A highlight of the second week is a Complementary Access exercise based on the real-world inspection activities of IAEA inspectors. This exercise is conducted using actual BNL research facilities and is led by a former negotiator and inspector of various treaties between the United States and the former Soviet Union. This exercise will require participants to take on the goals, tools, and responsibilities of IAEA inspectors. The capstone to the exercise will involve each inspection team presenting the findings of the Complementary Access visit.

Throughout the course, students are asked to learn and present material on key elements of the nonproliferation regime, and country experts provide insights into regional nuclear non-proliferation issues in Northeast Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East.

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