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Capacity Building in Nuclear Forensics and Enhancement of Regional Cooperation between Armenian and Georgian Authorities

Project Status: 6 Project underway
Commencement Date: 01.08.2021
Duration in months: 0 months


The cases of nuclear and radioactive material smuggling and other illegal actions in this area occur frequently posing threat for the international society. It is evidenced by the data of IAEA and other sources. Incidents of detection of undeclared radioactive and nuclear material were recorded at customs offices of many states. In some cases, such incidents were related to the ignorance of the cargo owners about such sources (metal scrap mainly) however, there were attempts to hide radioactive or nuclear material from custom services. Such cases are potentially related to radiation terrorism.

The current situation is a real danger to states and population. The international society is aware of these challenges. In many countries, special expert laboratories with appropriately trained personnel and relevantly equipped have already been created or are being created, the purpose of which is to study the properties of nuclear and radioactive materials of a criminal nature.

Earlier National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the Department of Energy (DOE) and Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence office collaborated with the Forensic-Criminalistic Department (FCD) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia and the Committee of Science of the Ministry of Education Science Culture and Sports Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP) in order to build capacity in the field of methodological and analytical support for investigations of nuclear smuggling incidents. NSDD proposes to continue this fruitful cooperation and to support interaction between Armenia and Georgia in this area.

NSDD has partnered with DOS to conduct a significant set of activities, executed by Armenian partners, to build Nuclear forensics (NF) capacity in the country, focusing on training in alpha spectroscopy and building interagency reachback procedures that are central to NF analysis. As a result of this activity an Armenian Nuclear Forensic Laboratory has created (CRDF Project PNSP-8210 “Establishment of the Laboratory for Technical and Forensic Analysis of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials in the Republic of Armenia”, 2010-2013). Despite Armenia’s commitment to the principles of NF and struggle against nuclear smuggling it should be noted that RA was somewhat limited in regional partnerships. Significantly, the GUAM countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova) are a strong regional network that collaborates on a multifaceted array of projects, in which Georgia has been successful and active participant. Armenia has no access to that network due to its ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabakh/Republic of Artsakh. The Republic of Armenia has attempted to address the need for access to NF network collaboration through other partnerships, including ITWG. Independent conversations between Georgian and Armenian NF experts initiated an interest in forming a bilateral cooperation between the two countries, which has been subsequently confirmed by NSDD personnel with both parties (verbally and through, for example ANNEX 1). We are confident of institutional support from the State Science Committee (CS), and the Nuclear Power Plan (ANPP) in Armenia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Forensics-Criminalistics Department (MOIA-FCD) in Georgia; representatives of these organizations have committed to meet and further discuss the scope of that collaboration.

The proposed project aims at further enhancing inter-agency cooperation on NF within Armenia and Georgia and between NF stakeholders in each country, by placing increased emphasis on the inter-ministerial and multi-agency aspects involved in a nuclear forensic investigation. This is addressed in several dimensions. The first dimension is the tactical level, where agreed protocols are a condition to successful domestic, multi-agency field operations and Crime Scene Examination. The second dimension includes the maximizing technical capabilities to address the specific expertise required (training for Georgian specialists). Project participants have some experience in training specialists in the field of gamma spectroscopy (see Armenia Nuclear Forensics Needs Assessment report, August 24, 2018, chapter 4: Recommendations for gamma spectroscopic methods of analysis (GSMA) for nuclear forensics). The third dimension – radiation safety measures during work with radioactive and nuclear materials and sources in laboratory and at the crime scene The fourth dimension consists of regional cooperation and international partnerships.

Participating Institutions


Center for Ecological-Noosphere Studies National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Armenia


Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia


Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (Armenian NPP)


Oak Ridge National Laboratory managed by UT BATTELLE, LLC (ORNL)


European Commission-Joint Research Centre Directorate G-Nuclear Safety&Security