Top Stories

IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database Releases Latest Aggregate Statistics

Staff Report

11 September 2007

From January 1993 to December 2006, a total of 275 incidents involving unauthorized possession and related criminal activities were confirmed to the Agency´s Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB), according to information released by the Office of Nuclear Security. Fourteen such incidents occurred in 2006. Incidents included in this category can be described as "illicit trafficking." They contain common "illicit trafficking" elements such as illegal possession, movement, or attempts to illegally trade in these materials.

A break-down of the 275 incidents of unauthorized possession and related criminal activities shows that 55% of the cases involved nuclear materials and 45% involved radioactive sources. Of the incidents with nuclear materials, 15 involved the seizure of highly enriched uranium and plutonium from individuals or groups who possessed them illegally. Some of these incidents involved attempts to sell these materials and smuggle them across national borders.

In addition, 332 reported incidents involved the theft or loss of nuclear or other radioactive materials (85 occurred in 2006) and 398 involved other unauthorized activities, such as the unauthorized disposal of radioactive materials or discovery of "orphan sources" (51 occurred in 2006). Most of these incidents involved radioactive sources, including high-risk "dangerous" sources (as defined in the IAEA Categorization of radioactive sources, RS-G-1.9., for example, caesium-137 and cobalt-60). In about 67% of cases with lost or stolen materials, the materials had not been recovered at the time of reporting. In 75 incidents reported during 1993-2006 the reported information was not sufficient to determine the category of incident.

"Information reported to the ITDB shows a persistent problem with the illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive materials, thefts, losses, and other unauthorized activities," the latest ITDB report said.

Established in 1995, the ITDB is the IAEA´s information system on incidents of illicit trafficking and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials. The scope of the ITDB information is broad and includes, but is not limited to, incidents involving the illegal trade and movement of materials across borders. The Database tracks events that occurred intentionally or unintentionally, with or without crossing international borders, as well as unsuccessful or thwarted acts.

The ITDB facilitates the exchange of authoritative information on incidents of illicit trafficking and other unauthorized activities involving nuclear and radioactive materials. Currently, 96 States participate in the ITDB Programme. In some cases, non-participating Member States have provided information to the ITDB.

Responsible/Contact: Division of Public Information | Last update: 18 February 2011