NNSA's Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence helps put radiation monitoring equipment and expertise into the hands of border officers

A front-line officer in Bulgaria performs a secondary inspection. When people, vehicles, or cargo pass through detection equipment and generate radiation alarms, well-trained officers use hand-held instruments to locate and identify the radiation sources.

The Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (NSDD) works with international partners to strengthen capabilities to deter, detect, and investigate the smuggling of nuclear and radiological materials by providing the expertise and tools needed to respond to smuggling events.

Combatting illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological material

Beginning in 1998, NSDD and its predecessor organizations have worked with over 100 partners in more than 65 countries worldwide to:

  • Build commitment to work together to address the threat of nuclear smuggling;
  • Build a sustainable international architecture of detection tools and trained operators, thereby providing a layered defense against smuggling; and,
  • Raise awareness of the importance of nuclear forensics and build partners’ capabilities in this area.

NSDD partners have access to in-depth educational programs on topics including operation and maintenance of detection systems, development of standard operating procedures and regulations, rapid asset mobilization planning, radiation detection investigative techniques, nuclear forensics, and a wide variety of customized tabletop and field training exercises. NSDD has also developed a library of technical guides documenting best practices in installing, operating, and maintaining detection systems.

At the national level, NSDD works to create complete solutions that function independently, ingrained as part of a country’s plan to combat smuggling.

NSDD also encourages and supports regional collaboration among partners. By providing resources for cross-border exercises and facilitating regional workshops and seminars, NSDD builds a network of partners who can mutually support each other. Other international collaboration includes working with INTERPOL, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the European Commission, the United Nations, the World Customs Organization, the U.S. Department of State’s Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s Global Partnership against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction. NSDD also participates in the development of international guidance documents and training curricula by providing subject matter experts to IAEA consultancies and technical meetings.

NSDD draws upon the expertise of its national laboratory scientists and collaborates with the U.S. Department of State, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Defense among others. Through these collaborations, NSDD helps broaden the pool of resources available to partners and improve their capacity to combat the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological material.


Since program inception, NSDD and its predecessor organizations have:

  • Enhanced multilayered nuclear detection architectures in over 65 countries;
  • Established enduring partnerships with over 100 organizations;
  • Deployed over 780 radiation detection systems;
  • Transitioned responsibility for the long-term operation and maintenance of over 620 systems deployed to international partners; and,
  • Engaged with 15 international partners to increase global nuclear forensics capabilities.