The Nuclear Black Market

Project Chair: William H. Webster
Project Director: Arnaud de Borchgrave
Task Force Chair: Sarah Mullen, ACDA
Task Force Ex. Secretary: Linnea P. Raine, DOE Fellow

Released in June 1996 in a joint CSIS-Congressional press conference, the CSIS Nuclear Black Market Task Force Report was the first in the series of task force reports to be issued by the Transnational Threats Project. The report has been a best-seller and cited frequently in national-level discussions of the problem. It was a centerpiece in Senator Nunn's hearings in the spring of 1996 on U.S. preparedness to combat weapons of mass destruction and a key factor in the decision by Senators Domenici, Nunn, and Lugar to propose an amendment, "Defense against Weapons of Mass Destruction," to the FY 1997 Defense Authorization Act. The amendment was passed in the Senate by a vote of 96-0 in June 1996 and signed into law in September 1996. The legislation ultimately led to the Defense Preparedness Program which aims to train 120 U.S. cities to better prepare for and handle a terrorist attack involving weapons of mass destruction.

The report focuses on the supply, illicit trafficking, and demand for nuclear weapons and weapons-usable uranium and plutonium from the Former Soviet Union (FSU). It assesses the threat to U.S. interests posed by illicit trade in nuclear weapons and weapons-usable materials, including the link between organized crime and trafficking in FSU-origin nuclear materials; evaluates preventive efforts (i.e., safeguarding those commodities at the source); analyzes capabilities for detecting, interdicting, and prosecuting nuclear smuggling; examines options for neutralization should prevention fail; and offers a prognosis and action plan for mitigating the threat.

With the completion of the report, the task force next turned their attention to creating a scenario and game, Wild Atom, to play out the report's findings and recommendations. The game, which took place in November 1996, was a tremendous success. Co-hosted by CSIS and the National Defense University, Wild Atom involved over 70 participants (representing a wide array of talent from the intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic communities, the high-tech sensor-development world, nuclear forensics, the legislative branch, and the private sector). The report and its findings were released at a June 25, joint CSIS-Congressional-National Defense University conference on weapons of mass destruction terrorism. Steering Committee member and Chairman of the House.

Nuclear Black Market Task Force Membership

George Anzelon, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Tom Blankenship, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Edwina Campbell, National Defense University
Burrus Carnahan, Science Applications International
Paul Dembnicki, Federal Bureau of Investigation
Joseph DeThomas, Department of State
Robert Ebel, CSIS
David Kay, Hicks and Associates
Steven Mladineo, Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory
Mark Mullen, Los Alamos National Laboratory
Tom Smith, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
John F. Sopko, Senate PSI
John B. Stewart, Ogden Services, Inc.
Daniel Wagner, Central Intelligence Agency
Cdr. Peter Wikul (USN), Joint Chiefs of Staff
Rick Yanuzzi, Central Intelligence Agency
Joseph Yardurmian, Nuclear Regulatory Commission