A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Countering Nuclear and Radiological Materials Illicit Trafficking Through Maritime Security Initiatives: Paper Tiger or Concrete Solution? A Case Study


Countering Nuclear and Radiological Materials Illicit Trafficking Through Maritime Security Initiatives: Paper Tiger or Concrete Solution? A Case Study

Abstract: 

For more than a decade, the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) terrorism has been on the forefront of the international security agenda. In an increasingly globalized society, detecting and interdicting illicit trafficking of radiological and nuclear (RN) materials to prevent individuals and organizations – who are willing to perpetrate the atrocious act of WMD terrorism – from acquiring such materials is of utmost priority and import. In this context, the international community has launched various political and legal initiatives to prevent illicit trafficking of RN materials via maritime means. Indeed, given that over 58 million twenty-foot equivalent units of containers are shipped around the world over 490 maritime trade routes annually, commercial maritime shipping industry is uniquely vulnerable to exploitation by nefarious actors. Yet, are the existing initiatives implemented with efficiency and respected by those connected to the maritime industry, or is the reality far from ideal?

Employing the grounded theory approach, this paper examines ways the international maritime security initiatives (Proliferation Security Initiative, Megaports Initiative, etc.) are implemented at the Port of Antwerp, Belgium. In doing so, this paper also analyzes the impact different authorities involved in the security and operation of the port have on the implementation of such initiatives. Ultimately, this paper seeks to identify strengths and potential weaknesses of the current legal and political framework designed to curb illicit RN materials trafficking and generate a theoretical foundation and a series of hypotheses that can be tested and utilized to improve the future design of international maritime security initiatives.

Publication Information

Full Citation: 

Sin, Steve S., Brecht Volders, and Sylvain Fanielle. 2015. "Countering Nuclear and Radiological Materials Illicit Trafficking Through Maritime Security Initiatives: Paper Tiger or Concrete Solution? A Case Study." Presented at NCT CBRNe USA Innovation Stream, Reston. http://www.cbrneportal.com/countering-nuclear-and-radiological-materials-illicit-trafficking-through-maritime-security-initiatives-paper-tiger-or-concrete-solution-a-case-study/ (May 1, 2015).

START Author(s): 
Steve Sin
Publication URL: 
Visit Website