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Hundreds of Incidents of Lost Nuclear and Radioactive Material Logged in Latest CNS Trafficking Database

Radioactive material in transit.

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The latest edition of the Global Incidents and Trafficking Database, produced by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) exclusively for NTI, documents 352 incidents of nuclear and radiological material outside of regulatory control between 2020-2021. The Global Incidents and Trafficking Database is the only publicly available account of incidents involving nuclear and other radioactive materials. It aims to give researchers and policymakers a comprehensive picture of the amount and types of incidents that occur, from which they can develop data-driven policy solutions. CNS has logged more than 1,500 global incidents since the database was launched in 2013, emphasizing that the security of nuclear and radioactive materials remains a persistent global safety and security concern.

The latest dataset, available as a downloadable spreadsheet, is published with an accompanying analytical report and interactive map to illustrate where incidents have taken place. Delays and disruptions in national reporting due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to the publication of a two-year aggregate report of 2020 and 2021 incidents. The dataset illustrates several alarming trends, including more incidents occurring because of failure of individuals to abide by appropriate procedures and attempts by right-wing extremist groups to acquire nuclear and other radioactive materials. Furthermore, the deteriorating relationship between Russia and the United States, even before the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, has stymied progress on nuclear and other radioactive materials security issues on the international stage and the threat of radiological crime and terrorism remains high, particularly in unstable regions.

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