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R. Metcalf, "New Tool for Proliferation Resistance Evaluation Applied to Uranium and Thorium Fueled Fast Reactor Fuel Cycles," M.S. Thesis, Texas A & M University, May 2009.



The comparison of nuclear facilities based on their barriers to nuclear material proliferation has remained a difficult endeavor, often requiring expert elicitation for each system under consideration. However, objectively comparing systems using a set of computable metrics to derive a single number representing a system is not, in essence, a nuclear nonproliferation specific problem and significant research has been performed for business models. For instance, Multi-Attribute Utility Analysis (MAUA) methods have been used previously to provide an objective insight of the barriers to proliferation. In this paper, the Proliferation Resistance Analysis and Evaluation Tool for Observed Risk (PRAETOR), a multi-tiered analysis tool based on the multiplicative MAUA method, is presented. It folds sixty three mostly independent metrics over three levels of detail to give an ultimate metric for nonproliferation performance comparison. In order to reduce analysts' bias, the weighting between the various metrics was obtained by surveying a total of thirty three nonproliferation specialists and nonspecialists from fields such as particle physics, international policy, and industrial engineering. The PRAETOR was used to evaluate the Fast Breeder Reactor Fuel Cycle (FBRFC). The results obtained using these weights are compared against a uniform weight  approach.

Results are presented for five nuclear material diversion scenarios: four examples include a diversion attempt on various components of a PUREX fast reactor cycle and one scenario involves theft from a PUREX facility in a LWR cycle. The FBRFC was evaluated with uranium-plutonium fuel and a second time using thorium-uranium fuel. These diversion scenarios were tested with both uniform and expert weights, with and without safeguards in place. The numerical results corroborate nonproliferation truths and provide insight regarding fast reactor facilities' proliferation resistance in relation to known standards.

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Associated Project(s):

  • Proliferation Resistance Analysis And Evaluation Tool for Observed Risk (PRAETOR)
  • Proliferation Resistance Methods Development

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