J.M. Osborn “Trace Fission Product Ratios for Nuclear Forensics Attribution of Weapons-Grade Plutonium from Fast Breeder Reactor Blankets”, M.S. Thesis, Nuclear Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX (2014).
A nuclear terrorist attack is one of the most serious threats to the national security of the United States. Plutonium, a by-product in spent nuclear reactor fuel, is ideal for use in a nuclear weapon when obtained from reactor fuel discharged at a low burnup (1 MWd/kg). Characteristics of plutonium reprocessed from reactor fuel depend on factors such as the reactor type (thermal or fast reactor), fuel burnup, production history and the plutonium separation process used. Detailed understanding of these unique characteristics, such as plutonium isotopic composition and fission product contaminant concentrations in separated plutonium would aid nuclear forensics activities aimed at source attribution in the case of interdicted smuggled plutonium, bolstering nuclear deterrence. The study presented here shows that trace fission product to plutonium ratios are amenable for nuclear forensics attribution. Through computational reactor core physics simulations, results are obtained for weapons-grade plutonium that may be produced in the Indian Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor. These fission product to plutonium ratios for the PFBR are further compared with results reported elsewhere for the Indian Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor, and show substantial differences in the ratios.