Weapons Smuggling

Internet Resources on Weapons Smuggling

Topical Overview

“Two decades after the end of the Cold War, we face a cruel irony of history — the risk of a nuclear confrontation between nations has gone down, but the risk of nuclear attack has gone up.

Nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen and fashioned into a nuclear weapon exist in dozens of nations. Just the smallest amount of plutonium — about the size of an apple — could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people. Terrorist networks such as al Qaeda have tried to acquire the material for a nuclear weapon, and if they ever succeeded, they would surely use it. Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world — causing extraordinary loss of life, and striking a major blow to global peace and stability.

In short, it is increasingly clear that the danger of nuclear terrorism is one of the greatest threats to global security — to our collective security.”

-President Barack Obama, Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC, April 2010

TraCCC Initiatives

TraCCC uses its analysis of the symbiotic relationships among crime and terror networks in its research into illegal smuggling of weapons, including in WMD, and nuclear materials.

TraCCC and its overseas partners in Eurasia have identified smuggling routes for these materials, including source countries, transit points and destination countries, and have worked with law enforcement agencies in several countries on developing appropriate training techniques for identifying and quelling smuggling networks.

In the past several years, TraCCC has  hosted or been a part of events pertaining to weapons smuggling. In 2005, The Kennan Institute hosted a Discussion on The Links Between Organized Crime and Terrorism in Eurasian Nuclear Smuggling with Dr. Louise Shelley and former TraCCC Senior Researcher Dr. Robert Orttung at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. In 2006,  TraCCC cohosted a half-day conference with CERES on security threats to Russia. The conference focused on organized crime, terrorism, and the Russian government’s fight against those elements. Prof. Mark Galeotti (Rutgers University) moderated the panel; Prof. Louise Shelley (American University, TraCCC) discussed nuclear smuggling and the processes that facilitate it, Prof. Robert Orttung (American University, TraCCC) discussed possible organized crime and terrorist links in Siberia, and Nabi Abdullaev (Moscow Times) examined the implications of Russia’s antiterrorism strategy on civil liberties. In April of 2009, TraCCC hosted an event,“What Is Needed?: The Way Ahead for WMD Policy” at the School of Public Policy at George Mason University to discuss the theoretical and operational frameworks of the policy domestically and abroad, and what is needed for the future. In July of that year Security Management Online posted the article, “Sleuthing Nuclear Smuggling,” mentioning Dr. Louise Shelley along with other panelists from the April 16th Conference.  In February 2010, TraCCC hosted a conference entitled, “Criminal Networks, Smuggling, and WMD.” The conference addressed the problem of criminal facilitation in WMD proliferation in the United States and abroad.  The speakers focused on actual cases and not hypothetical scenarios, and confirmed linkages between crime and terrorist groups were discussed and analyzed.