Cross Border Crime: Gangs go nuclear

The UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and protocols aimed at stemming the buying and selling of human beings into new forms of slavery, the smuggling of migrants and the high-profile trade in illicit firearms will be opened for signature this month at a high level conference in Palermo, Italy. This follows its unanimous adoption by the UN General Assembly in mid November. The two articles which follow look at the Convention and a particularly worrying example of the crimes it seeks to control.

The World Today
6 minute READ

Phil Williams

Director of Ridgeway Center for International Security Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Paul Woessner

Senior research analyst, Ridgeway Center

Nuclear materials are being smuggled by organised criminal gangs more frequently than is generally admitted. Following the line of least resistance, they are often using routes in Central Asia and the Caucasus. There is even evidence of Mafia involvement.

Conventional wisdom about organised crime argues that there is little, if any, involvement in nuclear material trafficking. The reasons given in support of this are persuasive at first sight. A successful transaction involving weapon-grade materials, it is said, would bring down on organised crime the full force of national and international law enforcement.

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