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Warren Stern named as Director of DHS' Domestic Nuclear Detection Office

Warren Stern, a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Incident and Emergency Centre and currently a senior advisor to the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation – has been named as Director of DHS' Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO).

As DNDO Director, Stern will oversee the office's ongoing efforts to enhance security by bolstering capabilities to detect and report unauthorized attempts to import, possess, store, develop, or transport nuclear or radiological material, as well as DNDO's efforts to support the U.S. Government's nuclear forensics capabilities.

Stern served as the Head of the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre from August 2006 to March 2010, where he led international efforts to prepare for and respond to nuclear and radiation emergencies and helped create the IAEA's Response Assistance Network, according to a prepared statement released by DHS on August 4.

“Radiological emergencies continue to occur throughout the world in unexpected places -- often involving lost, stolen, damaged, discarded or found sources,” wrote Stern and a colleague, in an IAEA bulletin published in March 2007. “Experience shows that even relatively minor radiological emergencies can have a severe social, economic and psychological impact nationally and internationally. In order to minimize these impacts, effective action by first responders is essential.

“In almost all radiological emergencies, first responders and local officials (supported by national officials), perform the initial response. Since radiological emergencies are rare, local responders have little or no experience in dealing with this type of emergency and inexperience often leads to an inadequate response. The level of preparedness required at the local and national levels to respond adequately to radiological emergencies is modest.”

Stern began his career in 1985 at the Central Intelligence Agency, then served as the senior technical advisor in the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1990 until 1999.

He later served as a Fellow in Senator Hillary Clinton's office in 2003 -- providing guidance on nuclear energy, waste, safety and security issues and helping to write the Dirty Bomb Prevention Act -- and went on to serve as the Department of State's Senior Coordinator for Nuclear Safety and Deputy Director of the Office of Nuclear Energy, Safety and Security.

While in this post, Stern served on a team that was designing a massive shelter that could be constructed near the radioactive ruins of Chernobyl's Reactor Number Four, and slid over the existing shelter to protect the sarcophagus. Stern described the huge undertaking to a journalist with National Public Radio in April 2006.

“It will be 853 feet long, and it will take a day or two, actually, to move, foot by foot, this structure over the existing sarcophagus,” said Stern. “Because of the radiation that exists near the reactor, we don't want to build it on top of the reactor. We want to build it slightly away from it, and then push it on top on rails.”

Stern received his M.S. in National Security Studies from the National War College, his S.M. in Nuclear Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his B.A. in Physics from Brandeis University.

 

 

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