Nuclear Black Market: A Concerning Trade

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The existence of a nuclear black market is not very well known. But, events since the dissolution of the former Soviet Union have pointed to a nuclear black market that does not seem highly organized, but is present.

In 1998, the Russian Security Service, reported foiling a plan where thieves attempted to steal enough weapons-grade Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) to make a bomb, about 18.5 kilograms (41 pounds) .

In February of 2006, an undercover agent and a SWAT team in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, successfully seized a couple of grams of 90% weapons-grade HEU from smugglers. The smugglers were all from an unstable region of South Ossetia in Georgia, a border state with Russia in the north, where counterfeit $100 bills, people, and weapons are freely smuggled along with occasional nuclear materials.

Such destructive power is attractive to those that have a strong motivation of pushing their agenda through any means necessary.

In April 2016, Georgian authorities arrested three Armenian and three Georgian citizens in Georgian capital of Tbilisi, attempting to sell U-238 for $200 million., In less than two weeks, Georgian authorities arrested five Georgian citizens in Kobuleti, a Black Sea port city about 200 miles west of Tbilisi, attempting to sell 1.7 kilograms (3.7 pounds) of enriched Uranium for $3 million.

The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, showed the destructive force of a nuclear weapon. Two bustling cities were decimated and tens of thousands of people suffered death and life-altering physical and psychological injuries. Such destructive power is attractive to those that have a strong motivation of pushing their agenda through any means necessary. And the existence of a nuclear black market shows a terrifying potential of aiding their motivation.