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


About the Contributors »

Selected Reviews of Preventing Black-Market Trade in Nuclear Technology

Mohamed ElBaradei, Former Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency

"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."

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

"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."

Sam Nunn, Former Senator; Co-chairman, Nuclear Threat Initiative

"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."

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

“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.”

Robert Einhorn, The Brookings Institution

"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."

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

"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."

About This Book

book cover

Preventing Black-Market Trade in Nuclear Technology
William C. Potter Leonard Spector
For more information on this publication: 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