Inderscience Publishers

Illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material: the 'net' security threat

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Illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive material, which could be used for building a nuclear weapon or a radiological dispersal device, has been a subject of concern for more than a decade. A major obstacle to assessing the actual security threat due to nuclear trafficking is the inclusion in the analysis of incidents that do not represent a security threat, in the sense of being a possible pre-stage to a clandestine nuclear weapons programme or a terrorist operation involving a crude nuclear device or a radiological dispersal device. International transport of contaminated scrap metal, or discovery of lost or abandoned radioactive sources are examples of such incidents, which have little or no security relevance. This paper analyses the global data contained in the Database on Nuclear Smuggling, Theft and Orphan Radiation Sources (DSTO) using special filters to discriminate between incidents that are of security relevance and those that are not.

Keywords: nuclear materials, nuclear terrorism, nuclear trafficking, nuclear weapons, radioactive materials, radiological dispersal devices, security threat, illicit trafficking, nuclear safety, nuclear security, dirty bombs, orphan radiation sources, nuclear smuggling, nuclear theft, net security risk

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