Illegal exports of nuclear materials

Other Names:
Covert trade in nuclear bomb-making materials
Clandestine trade in nuclear weapons
Nuclear smuggling
Black-market trade in radioactive materials
Trafficking in nuclear materials

In contravention of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, weapons grade nuclear materials have been sold to countries which are secretly developing nuclear weapons.


Nuclear smuggling has become an increasingly lucrative business for professional dealers. Several countries are known to be circumventing supplier-country restrictions on importation of nuclear weapons material manufacturing facilities by means of purchasing such components piece by piece through a series of dummy trading companies, anonymous purchasing agents, and falsified intent of means statements. Clandestine trade has played a central role in advancing the nuclear weapons capability of Argentina, Brazil, India, Iraq and Pakistan. In 1992, German authorities seized quantities of caesium 137 and strontium 90 destined for sale on the black market. They announced that 20 kilos of weapons-grade uranium was missing. In 1994 security forces in western and eastern Europe were combining their efforts in response to the growing menace of smuggling of nuclear materials from countries of the former USSR. Interpol in 1994 was treating 30 nuclear smuggling cases as extremely serious.

Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced InequalityGOAL 12: Responsible Consumption and ProductionGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST