The forensics study is trying to assess how authoritative the U.S. could be in attributing a nuclear device to a particular source and in making its case to the American public and the rest of the world.Davis said it was hoped that nuclear forensics could determine the size of a detonation within one hour; the sophistication of the bomb design within six hours; how the fuel was enriched within 72 hours; and the peculiar details of national design -- "Does this look like a Russian, a Chinese or a Pakistani device, or something we have never seen before?" -- within a week.
What next? That part of the strategy is still evolving. Retaliation is one option that counter-terrorism officials have suggested in congressional testimony. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena), who has sponsored legislation to increase funding for nuclear forensics, suggested that any policy had to be flexible."
It would be left to the administration in office to determine what the repercussions would be," he said.
Deterrence might depend simply on the perception that the U.S. could respond with a counterstrike. But if nuclear fuel were traced back to Russia, would the U.S. start a nuclear exchange? And what if the nuclear materials came from the U.S.?
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