Book - Cambridge University Press

Preventing Black-Market Trade in Nuclear Technology

| June 2018

Every nuclear weapons program for decades has relied extensively on illicit imports of nuclear-related technologies. This book offers the most detailed public account of how states procure what they need to build nuclear weapons, what is currently being done to stop them, and how global efforts to prevent such trade could be strengthened. While illicit nuclear trade can never be stopped completely, effective steps to block illicit purchases of nuclear technology have sometimes succeeded in slowing nuclear weapons programs and increasing their costs, giving diplomacy more chance to work. Hence, this book argues, preventing illicit transfers wherever possible is a key element of an effective global non-proliferation strategy.

Book cover


  1. Introduction: The Problem of Black-Market Nuclear Technology Networks 
    Matthew Bunn and William C. Potter

  2. The World of Illicit Nuclear Trade: Present and Future
    David Albright and Andrea Stricker

  3. The Role of Intelligence in Countering Illicit Nuclear-Related Procurement
    Thomas Fingar

  4. Strengthening the Global Law-Enforcement Response
    Leonard S. Spector

  5. Strengthening Sanctions and Interdiction
    Mark Fitzpatrick

  6. Strengthening Global Nuclear Export Controls
    Ian Anthony

  7. The Private Sector's Role in Stopping Black-Market Nuclear Technology Networks
    Robert Shaw

  8. Strengthening Global Nonproliferation Financial Controls
    Justine Walker

  9. Strengthening the Role of International Organizations in Dealing with Illicit Nuclear Technology Networks
    Olli Heinonen

  10. Countering Nuclear Black Markets by Strengthening Nonproliferation Culture
    Matthew Bunn

  11. Stopping Black-Market Nuclear Technology Networks
    Vladimir A. Orlov and Oleksandr Cheban

  12. Out-of-the-Box Initiatives to Combat Illicit Nuclear Technology Procurement Networks
    John Park, Leonard S. Spector and Ian J. Stewart

  13. Conclusion: Stopping Illicit Trade in Nuclear Technology: Progress, Gaps, and Next Steps
    Martin B. Malin, Matthew Bunn, Leonard S. Spector and William C. Potter


Praise for Preventing Black-Market Trade in Nuclear Technology

"Avoiding nuclear apocalypse is humanity's top priority. [Here is] a book by leading experts in the field on what needs to be done to combat the ominous danger of illicit trafficking in nuclear technology. A must read for anyone interested in how to shore up our precarious global security system."

Mohamed ElBaradei, Former Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency

"A secret nuclear technology smuggling network lurks in the shadows behind virtually every recent nuclear weapons acquisition program. The expert authors of this volume both shine a bright light on these illicit networks, exposing the states and companies involved, and present creative ideas on how to reduce the risks of future nuclear proliferation. This book should guide new international efforts to shut down these nuclear black markets."

Scott D. Sagan, Caroline S. G. Munro Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

"The world needs bold steps to surmount the nuclear dangers that we confront. This book is essential reading for its role in outlining the steps needed for a crucial part of that effort - controlling the spread of the technologies needed to build nuclear weapons to countries seeking nuclear arsenals. Top experts look at the dangers that lie ahead and recommend new tools to counter them. This book is must reading for policymakers striving for a safer world."

Sam Nunn, Former Senator, co-chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative

“This book is a sophisticated and urgent call for global action to prevent the next AQ Khan and avoid nuclear Armageddon. By distilling the lessons of the recent past, these world-class experts provide the blueprint for a safer, saner future. Essential reading for policy makers and the public.”

Douglas Frantz, Deputy Secretary-General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

"The future of global nuclear nonproliferation efforts will depend heavily on the high-stakes competition between increasingly resourceful nuclear black marketers and governments determined to thwart them. This volume brings together highly knowledgeable experts to shed light on the shadowy world of illicit nuclear procurement and to propose a promising strategy for impeding it. It is the most comprehensive treatment of the subject publicly available and an indispensable resource to both government policymakers and outsiders interested in avoiding a world of many nuclear-armed states."

Robert Einhorn, The Brookings Institution

"A compelling analysis of the failures of policy, intelligence, law enforcement and private sector governance in the past, and the continuing challenges facing the control of illicit nuclear technology transfers. This book is a sharply focused and intensely practical contribution to solving one of the world's most dangerous problems, and policymakers will ignore it at their peril."

Gareth Evans, Former Australian Foreign Minister, Co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and co-author of Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play


More information at Cambridge University Press

For more information on this publication: Please contact the Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:

Matthew Bunn, Martin B. Malin, William C. Potter and Leonard Spector, eds. Preventing Black-Market Trade in Nuclear Technology. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018).

The Editors