Jane VaynmanAlmost New Illicit Trafficking Database

I like the tone of the first few paragraphs of this Times online article, Seizures of radioactive materials fuel ‘dirty bomb’ fears It’s the terrorists are coming to kill us all with a dirty bomb so buy our paper while you still have eyes! tone.

SEIZURES of smuggled radioactive material capable of making a terrorist “dirty bomb” have doubled in the past four years, according to official figures seen by The Times.


The disclosures come as al-Qaeda is known to be intensfiying its efforts to obtain a radoactive device.

(The typos are on their website. Odd. Spellcheck?)

I read this today, and thought, oh right, the IAEA must have just released the latest version the Illicit Trafficking Database. Great, I feel like I am always looking for that PDF.

So I go to find it, a link on IAEA site was not working for some reason, so I just google to see if there is another way to get to it. So, the official figures seen by the Times … yeah, released in August.

I missed it, maybe some of you missed it, and the Times missed it, but they are making up for it now. Jeffrey also pointed out that Arms Control Today had a somewhat different take on the same data, going with the title of “IAEA Says Illicit Nuclear Material Trade Down.” Clearly Miles and Daryl should consult with the Times on attracting readership.

Another smart and observant person notes that the IAEA deleted a couple of incidents from the earlier version of the report:

  • a 1999 Kyrgyzstan Pu incident (maybe concluded it wasn’t real);
  • a 2000 incident with 770 g of HEU seized in Batumi;
  • a 2000 Tbilizi incident with 0.4 g of plutonium;
  • a Greece incident with 3 g of Pu in metal plates in 2001.

IAEA also added two:

  • 3 grams of HEU from New Jersey in 2005;
  • .0017 g of HEU in Japan.

Here is the link to the almost new Illicit Trafficking Database to curl up with on a rainy day.

If anyone has any further leads to explain said deletions and additions, please comment away.


  1. J. (History)

    I have no adds or deletions, but just am curious as to where this material is going. I don’t like the hype over “dirty bombs,” but was wondering if you had an idea of what the illicit sale of radioactive material was going for. That is to say, who exactly wants rad sources? Is this like spare auto parts, where labs buy cheap stolen rad sources for experiments?

    Again I don’t believe that terrorists are buying up the stuff, so who is?

  2. Plutonium Page (History)

    I was digging around the internets just last week for the Illicit Trafficking Database, and was annoyed that I couldn’t find it. So, thanks for the post and the reference – I’ll give you a hat tip in something I’m writing that I’ll (hopefully) post soon.

    As for the deletions, I’ll continue my internet digging and let you know if I find anything else.

  3. Steve

    “Official figures seen by the Times” in this case means someone there finally read a 6-week-old IAEA press release!