Nuclear Smuggling and Threats to Lithuanian Security

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Abstract

The article explores threats related to illicit trafficking of radioactive materials and dual-use goods applicable in state level nuclear programs, actualizing the global trends for the Baltic region. The article points to Eastern Europe’s changing risk profile in this respect, as increasing penetration of Russian criminal groups inside Ukraine and the destabilized situations in neighboring countries create an environment where the risk of nuclear smuggling is on the rise. Criminal entities can be seen forming new bonds, with trafficking routes intersecting and zones of influence shifting - consequently, an unusual level of criminal involvement in nuclear smuggling is observed, alongside a geographic shift of smuggling patterns. In addition, states seeking materials and technologies for their military programs have taken a notable interest in this region as a way of circumventing international transit regulations. The article looks at the likely implications of these new nuclear smuggling trends for the security of the Baltic states. It suggests that Lithuania may soon be facing a relatively new threat, and one that it is ill-prepared to counter. The article discusses the risk factors and indicators to watch before that risk becomes reality, and offers ways for Lithuania to contribute to addressing these increasingly acute problems on a regional level.

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