Skip to main content
Nuclear forensics

Through ANSTO, Australia is a leader in nuclear forensic science supporting global nuclear security

On behalf of Australia, ANSTO, the only nuclear reactor facility in the country, supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to undertake its role in facilitating national, regional, and international efforts to enhance nuclear security, including measures to protect against nuclear terrorism.

The IAEA provides a strong, sustainable, and visible framework to Member States to help policymakers and experts worldwide to improve nuclear security, manage radioactive sources, and prevent and detect material out of regulatory control.

In October this year, the IAEA celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, which provides significant support to Member States.

At the international level, the legal foundation for nuclear security consists of legally binding international instruments and internationally accepted non-binding instruments.

In practice, the security of nuclear and radioactive materials is supported by technical capabilities, such as nuclear forensic science.

In association with the IAEA, ANSTO supports nuclear security in Australia, the Asia-Pacific Region, and around the world, by providing international leadership in nuclear forensic science.

At the Lucas Heights campus, ANSTO operates a nuclear forensics facility staffed with experts in radiochemistry and forensic science. This facility is equipped to undertake the forensic analysis of confiscated samples.

The team also conducts research into methods to determine the origin of radioactive materials, decontamination, and examination of contaminated evidence.

Forensics staff provide education, training, and exercise support to Australian emergency response agencies that may have to attend crime scenes potentially contaminated with radioactive materials.

Sharing expertise in specialist areas is an important part of promoting nuclear security

Forensics workshop

international participants who attended the Nuclear Forensics Regional Training Course at ANSTO in 2019

In both 2017 and 2019, ANSTO hosted the IAEA’s Practical Introduction to Nuclear Forensics Regional Training Course for representatives of member countries from South-East Asia.

ANSTO staff shared expertise on the theoretical and practical aspects of nuclear forensics to respond to incidents of nuclear or other radioactive material out of regulatory control. More courses are planned when travel restrictions lift. Read more

In December 2018, ANSTO signed a Practical Arrangement with the IAEA on cooperation in nuclear forensics. This provided formal recognition of the extensive support provided by ANSTO to the IAEA’s nuclear forensic activities. Work is underway to extend the commitment for a further three years.

ANSTO nuclear security experts regularly participate in IAEA Consultancy Meetings related to nuclear forensics. This includes involvement in the IAEA’s inaugural nuclear forensics conference, technical meetings on nuclear forensics, and biannual nuclear security conferences.

ANSTO also is currently taking part in its third IAEA Coordinated Research project on nuclear forensics. The current project explores a range of techniques that can be used for the analysis of uranium, with a focus on techniques that can provide rapid information to investigations.

The Nuclear Forensics team is one of the groups at ANSTO contributing to nuclear stewardship and can be contacted at

In previous years, the work that ANSTO does has also contributed to the No 1 rating given to Australia by the Nuclear Threat Initiative. The NTI Index is a globally recognised assessment and tracking of nuclear security conditions in countries around the world.  Read more



Nuclear Fuel CycleNuclear forensics
Nuclear Fuel CycleNuclear Stewardship