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Nuclear Smuggling: DHS Prepares Scientists to Testify in Court Cases

Successful prosecution of nuclear smuggling often hinges on technical nuclear forensic evidence and the ability of expert witnesses to convey the credibility of the scientific evidence in court.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Domestic Nuclear Detection Office recently participated in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) workshop in Karlsruhe, Germany, delivering a presentation on planning for a national educational awareness program to prepare U.S. scientists to serve as effective expert witnesses in nuclear smuggling cases.

DHS was part of a U.S. delegation of federal partners from the Department of State, the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Sixteen GICNT partner nations and three observing international organizations also participated in this workshop.

DHS’s nuclear forensic educational awareness program enables scientist participants will have the opportunity to practice their skills using a fictional set of nuclear forensic case materials. The program covers every step a scientist would take in preparation for an actual court appearance and will conclude in a mock trial. Expert feedback and lessons learned provide participants with a set of technical and communication skills that will be invaluable should they serve as nuclear forensic witnesses in a real court setting.

Source: James F. McDonnell, DHS, adapted for context and format by CBRNE Central.

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