strategy

Preventing movement of weapons-usable nuclear materials to non-nuclear states

Synonyms:
Preventing smuggling of plutonium
Preventing illegal trading in nuclear weapons material
Context:
One of the prime concerns of global security in the post-Cold War era is of nuclear weapons proliferation by non-nuclear states, especially considered rogue states. This involves on the one hand, the potential that legal international movement of nuclear technologies, materials, and expertise such as weapons-usable plutonium, may be used by non-nuclear states to produce nuclear weapons, and on the other hand, the illegal movement of nuclear weapons materials, technologies, and related personnel to non-nuclear states, specifically from the territory of the former Soviet Union (primarily Russia) to states that may be considered by the international community as rogue. Recipient states may have a hidden agenda to develop the capacity to obtain and/or produce, directly and/or indirectly, nuclear weapons in order to enhance the pursuit of their interest, though at the likely detriment of regional and global stability. Apart from focusing on nuclear weapons states to reduce their nuclear weapons stockpiles and/or programmes, it is of vital interest to global security and peace that the proliferation of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear weapons states by any means be monitored, discouraged, and checked.

Seizures of illicit plutonium in Europe have raised global concerns about the unlawful trade in nuclear materials, and fears about the security of nuclear stockpiles have now become focused on the former Soviet Union. The smuggling of primarily Russian plutonium represents an acute threat to nuclear non-proliferation and global stability.

Implementation:
In recent years, the USA and other nations have taken measures to prevent or undermine such activities that have involved countries such as Iraq. At the time of writing, the USA is trying to prevent the sale of nuclear technology by Russia to Iran, and is negotiating with North Korea over certain nuclear issues.
Claim:
There is no real distinction between weapons-grade and reactor-grade plutonium, in that both make very satisfactory bombs. Less than nine kg of plutonium (a piece the size of a grapefruit) is sufficient for a bomb. One ten-thousandth of a gram is the human cancer dose.
Subjects:
Metallic elements and alloys
Material
Trade
Prevention
Crime
Arms
Nation state
Legality
Resource utilization
Type Classification:
E: Emanations of other strategies