Illicit Trafficking in the Southern Tier and Turkey Since 1999: A Shift from Europe?

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Fall-Winter, 2002

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After the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material emerged as a serious international concern. The economic and social conditions that followed the collapse left nuclear and radioactive material often poorly guarded and vulnerable to theft. In the early 1990s, Europe observed a sharp increase in nuclear smuggling incidents, as stolen nuclear and other radioactive material was brought from the former Soviet republics to Western Europe in the hope of finding a market. Since 1994, however, reported illicit trafficking incidents in Europe have declined. By contrast, since 1999 there has been an increase in such incidents in the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Turkey. Analysts have long speculated that nuclear smugglers would exploit this region--known as the southern tier--as a transit corridor.

This report looks at the illicit trafficking situation in the southern tier and Turkey in an attempt to establish whether these regions have become new routes for smuggling nuclear and other radioactive material. It discusses reported incidents of illicit trafficking in these countries, assesses their responses to the threat of trafficking, and evaluates foreign assistance provided to the region to combat this smuggling. The report concludes with recommendations for improving international anti-nuclear smuggling efforts.

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