A German Nuclear Archaeology Laboratory: Reconstructing the Nuclear Past to Enable a Nuclear-weapon-free Future

Today, there exist more than 15,000 nuclear warheads in nine countries. Independent estimates assume that the civilian and military fissile material stocks amount to 500 tons of plutonium and 1,400 tons of highly-enriched uranium, much of which is available to build additional nuclear warheads. Whether it be North Korea, the United States or any other nuclear weapon state, even countries' own assessments of their produced fissile materials bear significant uncertainties, corresponding to several thousand warhead-equivalents globally. This project seeks to develop new tools and methods to understand and reduce these uncertainties. A solid understanding of fissile-material holdings is needed to achieve a meaningful degree of predictability and irreversibility of future arms-control initiatives. Speculations about possibly large unaccounted fissile-material stockpiles could make progress in this area very difficult. Additional information on the nuclear archaeology concept can be found here (from page 25).