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Electronic seals developed for security application and their potential application in safeguards

The Seals and Identification Laboratory (SILab) is a laboratory within the Traceability & Vulnerability Assessment Unit, part of the Institute for the Protectionand Security of the Citizen from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission. SILab develops technologies and equipment based on ultrasonic control methods and RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) techniques, suitable for sealing and/or identification of nuclear or commercial items. This paper presents the work carried out in collaboration with the European Directorate General TAXUD (Taxation and Customs Union) and the Italian Customs authorities, aiming at proving the potentialities of modern electronic seals for commercial container sealing. Actually, European Customs officers in general and Italian in particular, have problems very similar to nuclear transportation and storage. Some harbours have no more possibility of extension on the sea side and they are building "inland harbours" (hubs) where the dispatching (or temporary storage) of the goods will be done. Each place is under the control of the Customs authorities, but during the transports between the sea harbour and the inland hub these authorities must also ensure that no goods are diverted. This presentation describes the tests of JRC patented RFID seals carried out in Livorno harbour and Prato hub (Italy). In particular, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) sealing systems have been demonstrated to Customs and Port authorities by simulating different scenarios of seal application, in particular: - Application of RFID seals to a container - The container was not authorized to leave the harbour - The container was authorized to leave the harbour and the seals were correctly setup - Spot check of seals status between Livorno and Prato with portable readers - The container arrives at destination Customs gate with integer seals - The container arrives at destination Customs gate with open seals The results were positive as the JRC demonstrated that the secure transport of containers subjected to Customs obligations is possible with a system that has a very low impact on harbour and hub infrastructures. These obligations are not far from nuclear safeguard ones. With quite few developments, these systems can also be deployed for the purpose of the nuclear safeguards.