Nuclear materials trafficking
Nuclear materials trafficking
Terrorism acts have of late been on the rise in the world a trend which is attributed to the high rates of nuclear material trafficking along the borders of different countries. Nuclear weapons are the major tools used by terrorist which have made the issue of nuclear material trafficking become a major concern of the United States government especially after the September 11 attack of the world trade centre. Nuclear threat was also a major concern to the United States during the time of cold war.
The subsequent Soviet Union collapse increased threats of terrorism attacks to the United States making the country intensify its measures of ensuring that terrorists did not have access to nuclear materials which could be used for creation of nuclear weapons. Ever since the era of cold war, United States as well as other countries has put measures to make sure nuclear materials trafficking is reduced thus ensuring the security of the nations as well as the citizens (Williams & Vlassis, 2001). Nuclear materials trafficking
Nuclear materials trafficking refer to the illegal sale of materials used for making nuclear weapons. The trafficking of these materials is usually carried out though the borders of a country through highly concealed means that at times pass all the tests which may be in place in a country’s border. In some instances, cross border nuclear materials trafficking may be aided by citizens of a country and/ or people working in the migration departments. Due to sophistication in technology being used by terrorists, it has become very difficult to detect some of the nuclear materials being trafficked to a country.
This has necessitated implementation of tough and advanced measures to detect nuclear materials. In the United States, the forensic department is the one which deals with analysis of and research on nuclear materials thus making their detection easier. While analyzing nuclear materials in the laboratories of the forensic department, both the chemical and physical characteristic of the materials are analyzed so as to gain all the possible clues of nuclear composition in different compounds.
Also, environmental links are also analyzed for the purposes of tracing the place of origin which may help in determining how such products were illegitimated (Cameron, 1999). Nuclear materials are widely categorized into three basic groups which include the SNM an acronym for special nuclear material, reactor fuel and lastly those from commercial radioactive origins or sources. The special nuclear materials contains the basic materials which are used for making nuclear weapons which include the highly enriched uranium commonly referred to as HEU and plutonium.
The reactor fuels on the other hand include LEU-low enriched uranium, grade plutonium of mixed oxide and also grade plutonium of reactor and fuel. The mixed oxide commonly abbreviated as MOX is a combination of uranium oxides which are depleted and plutonium. It is usually used as a substitute for low enriched uranium. Commercial radioactive origins or sources of nuclear materials are meant for medical diagnostics, food irradiators, thermoelectric generators and equipments for radiography (L’Annunziata, El Baradei & Burkart, 2003).
Special nuclear materials are usually targeted and used by terrorists since when they are in plenty, no uranium enrichment or plutonium acquisition is required. This makes these materials the most highly trafficked around the world. Reactor fuels unlike the special nuclear materials cannot be used to directly build or create nuclear devices. However, they are more commonly available especially because they are found in almost all parts of the world.
Reactor fuels in conjunction with some of the radioactive materials can be used in the manufacture of dirty bombs as well as devices for radiological dispersals. Terrorists are the major traffickers of these nuclear materials and also some countries which support terrorism activities. Nuclear materials trafficking have been on the rise for the past ten years posing a great threat to the security of the United States and the world in general. Iran for example was believed to manufacture nuclear weapons which made America go to war with this country.
Nuclear weapons are dangerous as they can result to mass destruction (Cameron, 1999). Cases of nuclear materials trafficking and the response of the international criminal bodies According to the international criminal law, illicit nuclear materials trafficking as well as trafficking of other radioactive materials are categorized as one crime unlike in many countries where such crimes are separated. The international criminal laws have different treaties which a local prosecutor can use against a person implicated in nuclear materials trafficking.
However, most of the treaties used against a suspected nuclear materials trafficker can only be enforced if this trafficking is linked to intended acts of nuclear terrorism. These laws contrast sharply with the United Nations laws which states that a person can be sanctioned if he or she is a threat to the security and international peace. Usually, the trafficked nuclear materials are sold in nuclear black markets (Hossain & Shahidullah, 2008).
One of the major cases which has been brought to light is the one which occurred in Georgia in the year 2007 involving a Russian citizen by the name of Oleg Khintsagov who was sentenced for a jail term of 8years after being in possession of 100 grams of highly enriched uranium in the republic of Georgia at a local black market. Oleg was detained for a period of one year before being sentenced. According to the report which was issued out from Georgia, Oleg confessed that he had faith that the uranium could received by a extremist Islamic group.
He also claimed that he had large quantities of the highly enriched uranium which he said was kept somewhere in his apartment located at Vladikavkaz city, north Ossentia. An approximated 25 kilograms of this product which Oleg was in possession is required to manufacture of nuclear weapon. This estimate is according to the international atomic agency. By the fact that Khintsagov was a Russian and trading at Georgia as well as south Ossetia, this amounted to an international case thus raising international concern.
However, by the time Oleg was being sentenced, the authorities in Georgia as well as those who were supporting the republic of Georgia had not established the origin of the materials. The international criminal justice bodies have set in to try and locate the origin of the materials in the quest of establishing how such sensitive nuclear materials could have been obtained by Oleg in such great quantities of more than 3 kilograms (Williams & Vlassis, 2001). Another case which attracted international attention was the illegal sale of nuclear technology of Pakistan to Libya and Iran.
Pakistan was the source of nuclear materials, weapons as well as technology which were designed in Iran, Libya and North Korea. This revelation has sparked different and troubling reactions in the international community especially the United States. This exchange of nuclear weapon manufacturing technology has contributed greatly to the increase in nuclear weapon manufacture in the world thus posing a greater threat of manufacture of mass destruction weapons. This ahs raised great concern in the international community as the security of the world is threatened and acts of terrorism have accelerated.
In response to this discovery, the international community started carrying out investigation to establish the country’s role in this transfer of technology from Pakistan to the other countries. Despite the fact that these activities were carried long time ago and only came to light on the year 2003, Pakistan may face Charybdis situation and a classic Scylla which could be prompted by any foreknowledge by the past and the present governments concerning the above proliferation activities (Williams, 1989). An analysis of how international criminal bodies are tackling the above two cases of nuclear materials smuggling or trafficking
The case in the republic of Georgia as well as the case of Pakistan mentioned above have attracted and increased international concerns on the ease by which an individual can acquire nuclear materials illegally. This has also raised the question of the measures and ability of the governments to ensure that nuclear materials as well as radioactive sources are well guarded and secured. The main task of the international criminal system since the revelation of the proliferation activities by Pakistan is to establish whether Pakistan was aware of such activities or not.
Investigations were immediately launched to determine whether the countries which obtained this technology and nuclear materials were making or manufacturing mass destruction weapon (Angelo, 2004). After the 2003 revelations about nuclear weapon proliferation in Pakistan, the international criminal justice system apart from embarking on investigation, it formulated new policies to ensure that such actions were not repeated in the future by other countries. This policy was also meant to create avenues to deal with perpetrators who could have been found to have committed such crime.
In the year 2004, resolution 1540 was adopted by the Security Council which sought to prevent any “non state actor” from acquiring or trafficking in any kind of NBC related weapons and equipment, delivery systems or materials. This term non state actor was used not only to refer to terrorists as it was under the earlier security code but also businesses or state officials who were unauthorized. In the nuclear proliferation in Pakistan, A. Q. Khan a nuclear metallurgist is believed to have coordinated this proliferation in which the government at of that time claimed it had no idea nor had it authorized Khan to carry out such activities.
The government argued that nuclear proliferation by Khan was supported by different business networks around the world (Babcock, Chen & Zhuang, 2004). The resolution 1540 which was included in the security code mandated all states in the world to ensure appropriate measures were put in place. Such measures included national criminal laws, border controls, export controls, efforts for law enforcement, physical security and also techniques of accounting for materials. This was meant to ensure that no non state actor acquired or even succeeded in trafficking NBC weapons and all other related weapons.
Before this resolution was passed, there was no prior requirement which mandated the countries to criminalize acquisition as well as trafficking of biological and nuclear weapons (Williams, 1989). The United States also took stern measures against Pakistan after the nuclear proliferation saga was unfolded. When Pakistan started its nuclear weapon manufacture, it was deemed not to be harmful by the United States. United States under the leadership of Reagan had cooperated with Pakistan on military matters.
However, after the nuclear weapon manufacture was realized to be potentially harmful, the country conditioned its support for the Pakistan government. This was meant to force Pakistan abandon the nuclear manufacture project. In year 2001, Pakistan was forced to make Khan retire and military was also tightened over the KRL where Khan had been working from. Khan’s network however has not been closed as investigations are still being carried out. Most of the countries where Khan had networks have so far taken interest in the case with most of these networks being closed (Williams, 1989).
In the case of republic of Georgia, though the case is not as big as that of Pakistan, it has still attracted attention of international criminal justice. Non proliferation experts launched their investigations to ascertain the origin of the uranium which Oleg was in possession. However, this has not been identified so far especially because Oleg changed his initial confession which he had said he had obtained the materials form Russia. Russian officials were also involved in the investigation owing to cooperate with Georgia in fighting nuclear materials trafficking.
According to Russian authorities, the uranium could have been obtained from the country but ten years earlier before it was confiscated in Georgia a finding the United States conferred with the findings of Russia. Although this case was publicized by the Georgian government, it did not attract much attention from the international criminal agencies and only as it did not amount to heavy charges of proliferation. Also, the publicity of this case was met with skepticism from different opinion group with the move to publicize the case by the republic of Georgia being seen as a political provocation on Russia.
Also, the possibilities that later emerged that the uranium could have been stolen from a physics lab which had reported loss of about 2 kilograms of uranium in the 1990s made the case not to attract much international attention (Kelly, Maghan & Serio, 2005). While conducting the investigation for the above two cases, the international criminal society was faced with several difficulties. In the case of Oleg in the republic of Georgia, it was difficult to obtain accurate information regarding the origin of the uranium.
Also, Georgia lacked sufficient resources to help in the analysis of the uranium and had to rely on the findings of Russia and United States. Lack of resources and cooperation form the perpetrators were the main hindrance of this case. Also, politicization of the nuclear materials trafficking was also another reason which hindered compete investigation of the case by the international criminal justice. Georgia was seen like its only motive was to destroy the Russian reputation especially because of the timing of publication of the case.
In the case of Pakistan, lack of willing witnesses was a major hindrance for the international criminal justice team. Also, the laws which were in place during that time were limited and could not thus cover the proliferation issue fully (Williams & Vlassis, 2001). Conclusion Globalization which has been on the rise in the past few decades have led to improvement in technology for weapon manufacture. With rise in globalization, terrorism threats have also become more complicated and sophisticated necessitating creation of avenues to ensure and enhance global security.
Nuclear materials are widely used for the manufacture of nuclear materials which are usually used by terrorists. Guarding these nuclear materials has thus become a vital task for all countries which have them and laws have been formulated by the international law society to ensure that nuclear proliferation does not occur. Nuclear trafficking has however been a major concern for most countries means of trafficking them continue becoming more complicated and high tech. however, it is the duty of a government to ensure that all its nuclear reserves are well guarded and that no unauthorized persons are allowed to possess them.
Nuclear materials trafficking from a country whether knowingly or unknowingly may lead to devastating effects to the diplomatic relationships with such a country as well as heavy measures being undertaken by the international criminal law against such a country. To reduce incidences of nuclear weapon trafficking, it is important for all the governments to cooperate as well as establishment of stringent laws regarding this issue. Recommendation While dealing with issues of nuclear materials trafficking, it is vital to have the necessary equipment to enable a government track the origin and contents of such materials.
One of the major recommendations is that all government should establish a research institute and a laboratory equipped with necessary machines to enable in easier analysis as well as identification of nuclear materials. Countries should also ensure that the immigration department is closely manned to eliminate chances of collaboration and collusion of terrorists and immigration officers. All individuals entering or leaving a country should be thoroughly checked and screened to reduce chances of nuclear materials trafficking (Babcock, Chen & Zhuang, 2004).
The government should also take the initiative of training its forensic team, militants, border controllers as well as individuals involved in nuclear materials analyses so as to help cases of nuclear weapon smuggling in a country. All departments involved in the fight of nuclear proliferation and trafficking should also be given adequate funding especially with the current rise in terrorism threats. In cases of nuclear materials trafficking, non proliferation expert teams from various countries should be sent to the countries affected to ensure that results obtained are not biased or prejudiced.
A joint and independent team of experts should be formed to help in proliferation cases as well as other related nuclear materials trafficking cases (Wallenius, Peerani & Koch, 2000). Cooperation by all countries around the world is vital in helping in the fight of nuclear materials trafficking. One of the ways that the countries can do to ensure cooperation is by instituting stringent measures and laws to cub this vice. The internationals criminal laws should impose heavy penalties on countries from which the materials originate.
By imposing heavy penalties, countries may become keener in guarding their nuclear materials from being smuggled out of the country. Stringent measures should also be taken on individuals found to the trafficking nuclear materials. As it stands today, countries are more severely punished while perpetrators are only given to serve a short jail term which cannot act as a deterrent agent. Heavier punishment should be imposed on individuals who are caught trafficking nuclear materials (Williams, 1989).
An international court to deal with nuclear materials trafficking and proliferations should also be established to ensure that all individuals and countries prosecuted with such crimes get uniform penalties (Phillips, 2007). Reference: Angelo, J. A. (2004): Nuclear technology. ISBN 1573563366, Published by Greenwood Publishing Group Babcock, H. P. , Chen, C. & Zhuang, X. (2004): Using single-particle tracking to study nuclear trafficking of viral genes. Biophysical Journal Cameron, G. (1999): Nuclear terrorism: a threat assessment for the 21st century.
ISBN 0312219830, Published by Palgrave Macmillan Hossain, M. & Shahidullah, S. M. (2008): Global-Local Nexus and the Emerging Field of Criminology and Criminal Justice in South Asia: Bangladesh Case. Bangladesh e-Journal of Sociology Volume 5 Kelly, R. J. , Maghan, J. & Serio, J. (2005): Illicit trafficking: a reference handbook. ISBN 1576079155, Published by ABC-CLIO L’Annunziata, m. F. , El Baradei, M. M. & Burkart, W. (2003): Handbook of Radioactivity Analysis: Second Edition. ISBN 0124366031, Published by Academic Press Phillips, M. (2007):
Uncertain Justice for Nuclear Terror: Deterrence of Anonymous Attacks through Attribution. Journal article of Orbis Volume 51 Wallenius, M. , Peerani, P. & Koch, L. (2000): Origin determination of plutonium material in nuclear forensics. Journal of Radioanalytical and Nuclear Chemistry Williams, P. (1989): Russian organized crime: the new threat? ISBN 0714647632, Published by Routledge Williams, P. & Vlassis, D. (2001): Combating transnational crime: concepts, activities, and responses. ISBN 0714651567, Published by Routledge
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 17 November 2016
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