skip to main content

H.R. 2631 (110th): Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act

The text of the bill below is as of Jun 7, 2007 (Introduced).



1st Session

H. R. 2631


June 7, 2007

(for himself, Mr. Langevin, Mr. Israel, Mr. Shays, and Mr. Thornberry) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, and in addition to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


To strengthen efforts in the Department of Homeland Security to develop nuclear forensics capabilities to permit attribution of the source of nuclear material.


Short title

This Act may be cited as the Nuclear Forensics and Attribution Act.



Congress finds the following:


The threat of a nuclear terrorist attack on American soil is possibly the most serious threat to the national security of the United States. In the wake of an attack, attribution of responsibility would be of utmost importance. Because of the destructive power of the weapon, there could be little forensic evidence except the radioactive material in the bomb itself.


Through advanced nuclear forensics, using both existing techniques and those under development, it may be possible to identify the origin of a weapon or material after it is detonated. Though identifying intercepted smuggled material is now possible in some cases, post-detonation forensics is a relatively undeveloped field. In addition, the pressures and time constraints of performing forensics after a nuclear detonation would make attribution difficult.


A robust and well-known capability to identify the source of nuclear material used in an act of nuclear terror could also deter prospective proliferators.


In order to identify materials confidently, it is necessary to match them against samples of material from reactors, weapons, and enrichment facilities around the world. Some of these samples are available to the International Atomic Energy Agency through safeguards agreements, and some countries maintain internal sample databases. Access to samples in many countries is limited by national security concerns.


In order to create a sufficient deterrent, it is necessary to have the capability to positively identify the source of nuclear material, and potential traffickers in nuclear material must be aware of that capability. International cooperation is desirable and may be essential to catalogue all existing sources of nuclear material.


Sense of Congress on international attribution agreements

It is the sense of the Congress that the President should—


pursue international agreements, both bilateral and multilateral, to establish an international framework for determining the source of any confiscated nuclear material or weapon, as well as the source of any detonated weapon and the nuclear material used in such a weapon;


develop protocols for the dissemination of sensitive information relating to nuclear materials and samples of controlled nuclear materials, to the extent required by the agreements entered into under paragraph (1); and


develop expedited protocols for the dissemination of sensitive information needed to publicly identify the source of a nuclear detonation.


Responsibilities of Secretary of Homeland Security


Section 1802(a) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (as added by Public Law 107–296; 6 U.S.C. 592) is amended—


in paragraph (9), by striking and after the semicolon;


by redesignating paragraph (10) as paragraph (11); and


by inserting after paragraph (9) the following:


develop with the approval of the Secretary and in coordination with the heads of appropriate departments and agencies, methods to attribute nuclear or radiological material to its source when such material is intercepted by the United States, foreign governments, or international bodies or dispersed in the course of a nuclear terrorist attack or other nuclear or radiological explosion; and



Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated the sum of $20,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2008, 2009, and 2010 to carry out section 1802(a)(10) of the Homeland Security Act of 2002, as added by subsection (a) of this section.