A rock in hard places

ILPI Publications > Background Papers

Conflict zones and the illicit trade in uranium

By Mark Taylor
30 September 2014

The study examines the question of whether raw materials for the development and production of nuclear weapons are part of the informal economies of armed conflict. The paper finds little evidence of “conflict uranium”, but identifies potential proliferation risks in the patterns of illicit trade in natural resources from conflict zones. The paper provides examples of uranium trafficking and, based on experience from other sectors which have grappled with the phenomenon of “conflict minerals”, suggests an approach to managing the risk that proliferation, conflict and human rights abuses might be linked to the uranium trade in the future.

Background Paper No 12/2014 Published: September 2014


“There is no shortage of rumours about Shinkolobwe. We had been told that it was staffed by child miners, that it was heavily guarded by South African soldiers, and that the “South Africans” were actually US marines. A Belgian professor of politics in Lubumbashi had identified the mine as the key to the situation in the Middle East and the target of Sudanese mercenaries working for Hezbollah, which was supplying Iran with uranium”.[1]

It is not hard to imagine why the Shinkolobwe mine catches the imagination of the media: Shinkolobwe was the source for the uranium which was used to construct the two bombs dropped by US forces on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Shinkolobwe also happens to be located in the Katanga province of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), a country torn apart by almost two decades of civil wars and foreign military incursions since the 1990s.

The wars of the DRC are themselves famous as an example of “resource wars”[2], in which state fragility and civil war combine with global competition over strategic natural resources to prolong the suffering of affected populations and promote illicit trafficking in a variety of commodities. The combination of uranium, state fragility and illicit trade is potentially the stuff of non-proliferation nightmares: might fragile states and conflict zones be sources of uranium for rogue states and terrorists to build their nukes?

In the following pages, I shall examine the extent to which conflict and state fragility is a factor in the global uranium trade. At present, there does not appear to be enough evidence of illicit exploitation or trafficking in natural or milled uranium to conclude that “conflict uranium” is a phenomenon requiring urgent attention. However, we cannot rule out that structural risks from competition over uranium may exacerbate conflict in future. In light of the foregoing, I will assess whether existing regimes which attempt to govern the trade illicit trade in natural resources might have relevance for the trade in nuclear raw materials. I will argue that the risk monitoring system that exists today may not be capturing illicit production and trade in uranium.

What’s the risk? 

The main raw material in the development and production of nuclear weapons is uranium, the ore from which nuclear warheads derive their explosive power. Nuclear weapons share a number of raw materials with conventional weapons, some of which I will address below. But uranium is the raw material that gives nuclear weapons their unique destructive potential.

The extraction of uranium from the earth is a straightforward matter. It may involve industrial or artisanal mining. But the steps to produce nuclear weapons or to put uranium to civilian use (e.g. in power plants or for medical purposes) require significant industrial processing capacity. An industrial process is applied to separate uranium from the other ores with which it is found naturally. This processing is called “milling” and results in uranium being produced in a form that can be used for further processing (often referred to as uranium oxide or “yellow cake”). However, naturally occurring uranium is not fissile and not highly radioactive. As a result, it cannot be used directly in a nuclear weapon, either in its natural state or in its milled form. Raw uranium or uranium oxide possess little or no radioactive properties and are not considered a direct security risk in the same category as nuclear materials.

Any further application requires several additional transformations before reaching a stage of production in which it is ready for either civilian or military use. For weapons production, milled uranium must undergo another industrial process, whereby the two naturally occurring uranium isotopes (U-238 and U-235) are separated from each other. Naturally occurring uranium is over 99 per cent U-238, which is non-fissile, and less than one per cent U-235, which is the only naturally occurring fissile nuclide. To create the chain-reaction necessary for weaponization, this ratio needs to be nearly reversed, and the uranium must consist of more than 90 per cent U-235. To achieve this, the uranium must undergo an isotope separation, or so-called enrichment. In practice this means sending the uranium through centrifuges, where the slightly heavier U-238 is slowly separated from the slightly lighter U-235. If this is repeated enough times, the result will be uranium consisting of more than 90 per cent U-235 – so-called weapons-grade or highly enriched uranium (HEU).

In principle, the enrichment process is quite straight forward, but in practice it is not a process that can be undertaken in make-shift workshops:

“To produce the plutonium or highly enriched uranium needed to make nuclear weapons is difficult and expensive. It requires the kind of infrastructure that is likely to be available only to states. There is a risk, however, that security weaknesses could allow terrorists to steal enough material, or even an actual device”.[3]

The range of security risks concerning uranium is diverse, with the range of possible scenarios extending from the most obvious – the development or acquisition of a nuclear weapon – to the less sophisticated, such as the use of other nuclear materials – such as HEU or other (non fissile) radioactive isotopes from medical supplies – in an improvised nuclear device (IND), a so-called dirty bomb. Another version of the latter scenario is an attack designed to cause a release of radioactivity from a storage facility.[4]

None of these scenarios involve uranium in its raw or milled state. The non-proliferation regime is focused on a definition of nuclear materials that encompasses pretty much everything radioactive, from fissionable material for nuclear weapons to isotopes for medical purposes. In fact, for decades the intense and comprehensive efforts at non-proliferation and security of nuclear materials transport and storage, for example as expressed in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safeguards, have been focused on all aspects of the uranium value chain except that of uranium in its unenriched form, such as natural uranium or uranium ore. [5]

Conflict Materials

The risks posed by uranium in its natural or milled state are not much different from those associated with other metals and minerals used in industrial manufacturing. At each stage, workers and communities may face risks from exposure to concentrated chemicals, industrial accidents or other workplace hazards. Uranium ore and uranium oxide are also similar to other strategic natural resources – oil and gas or rare earths – in that they are vital to energy production or the defence industry and therefore are considered strategic and, at times, a focus of great power competition.[6]

The question then arises whether the uranium supply chain shows patterns similar to other metals and minerals with respect to illicit flows and conflict zones. For example, minerals such as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold can be found in most consumer electronics and can also be found in the electronic and computer components that make up the guidance, fire control and communication systems used in contemporary weapons systems. These minerals are also subject to increasing focus as “conflict minerals” due to the role of the extraction and trade in these minerals in helping to sustain some of the most brutal and long-lived conflicts of the post-Cold War era.

The production and trade in conflict minerals involve transactions that are unique to each particular commodity or industry value chain. However, the patterns of behaviour across different commodity chains are remarkably similar: informal economic activity, often controlled or taxed by state or non-state armed groups at the point of production, or at some point nearby, produces a commodity which is then sold onward, transported across borders and integrated into the global supply chains of industry. These series of transactions constitute global flows that often have their origins in local or national production for war. National war economies are often formal and industrialized. But sub-national war economies are often informal and dominated by armed groups. These war economies sustain the fighting capacity of both state and non-state armed groups through the phenomenon of conflict financing, a form of rent seeking for coercion specialists. As summarized elsewhere, conflict financing arises when the use of force is integrated into economic activity:

“The coincidence of armed violence and informal economies offers coercion specialists – the state and non-state users of force – access to economic opportunity. The activities and relationships that result from the intersections of armed violence and informal markets generate revenues and increase the likelihood of predatory crimes and human rights abuse”.[7]

Is uranium a conflict mineral?

In 2004, an investigative team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that thousands of small-scale miners were working the old mine at Shinkolobwe illegally. The mine had been closed in 1960 by the government of then Zaire and local miners had forcibly re-opened it during the early years of the civil war in 1997 to get at the remaining deposits of cobalt and coltan. Shipments of uranium from Shinkolobwe were reported to have entered Tanzania in October 2005 on their way to Iran but had been stopped after a random border check. Apparently, four similar shipments had been stopped in the previous ten years, leading analysts to assume that other consignments have made it through.[8] Beyond the Shinkolobwe incident, reports of uranium smuggling are rare, but they do occur. For example; [9]

  • In 1998, an Indian politician was arrested on suspicion of smuggling unrefined uranium to Pakistan;
  • In 2010, three men were arrested by Moldovan authorities for possession of 1.8 kilograms of milled uranium (yellow cake);
  • In 2013 two men were arrested with a small quantity of milled uranium in Durban South Africa, only the fifth such case in twenty years;
  • In August 2013, a man from Sierra Leone was arrested in the US with samples of uranium in his shoes and charged with planning to sell uranium to Iran;

With the exception on Shinkolobwe, none of these cases appears to be linked to a conflict, although weak governance is a potential factor in such places as Moldova and Sierra Leone. A systematic examination of the data on uranium production worldwide indicates that few countries which are significant producers are experiencing armed conflict. Of the over twenty-two uranium producing countries, those experiencing significant levels of conflict today at Urkaine and Pakistan.[10] However, neither Ukraine nor Pakistan are major uranium producers in global terms, and in neither are armed groups in active control of uranium production at the time of writing.[11]

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Still, the problem may not be as insignificant as it appears to be at first glance. As noted below, the data on uranium trafficking is not comprehensive, but where nuclear materials trafficking has been monitored, there are indications that Ukraine has experience over 100 nuclear trafficking incidents since 1991, second only to Russia in the Black Sea region.[12] In addition, while Ukraine and Pakistan are perhaps the only two uranium-producing countries that are currently experiencing armed conflict, there are several other countries that show clear signs of lower intensity conflict. Of the top ten producers, Niger (7% of total global production), Russia (5%), and Uzbekistan (4%) have recently or are currently experiencing some level of internal conflict with non-state armed groups and, in the case of Niger, are in a region that is increasingly violent and unstable. In 2013, the French government “ordered special forces to protect uranium sites run by state-owned Areva in Niger”, in part due to the fact that the threat of attacks rose after the French intervention against rebels in Mali.[13]

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In addition, of those countries investing in uranium exploration (but not yet in production), there are a number of countries which are at risk of – or are already experiencing – similar levels of internal conflict or regional instability, such as Colombia and Mexico, Jordan and Egypt, as well as Mali, and the Central African Republic.[14] Over the long term, a trend towards increases in energy demand would normally cause increased competition among states to secure supplies of uranium and other natural resources, which could exacerbate instability and fragility in some states, perhaps contributing to unrest and civil war.[15] In addition, consumer countries are concerned over the potential for a narrowing of the geographical spread of the resource base: the US geological survey sees an increasing reliance on fewer large uranium reserves in geographically specific projects, pri­marily in Africa (Niger, Namibia), Kazakhstan, Australia and Canada. Instability in supply in any of these areas will cause prices to rise.[16] In the past, sudden spikes in the global price of a commodity have sparked extraction “rushes” in states where governments are least able to regulate and where armed groups can take ad­vantage of poor policing.

It would appear that, at present, armed conflict or widespread violence is not a significant factor in the global uranium supply chain.

It would appear that, at present, armed conflict or widespread violence is not a significant factor in the global uranium supply chain. There is little evidence of “conflict uranium” in the market. There would also appear to be weak incentives for rent seeking by non-state actors or regime elite networks: at present, uranium prices have slumped in reaction to the impacts on demand of the 2011 Fukushima reactor accident in Japan. Prices have stayed down in 2014 due to an ample supply or uranium ore and because major consumer countries such as the US and Russia have been converting weapons grade uranium and plutonium into fuel supplies as part of their cooperative “Megatons for Megawatts” collaboration (which ended in 2013). In addition, a number of countries, with Germany as a notable example, decided in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident to either reduce or eliminate altogether their reliance of nuclear energy. This has contributed to the market’s expectation that the supply surplus will remain for some years and this expectation has helped to keep the price of uranium low.

However, it is also true that as much as 14 per cent of existing global uranium extraction is taking place in countries experiencing significant levels of internal conflict or regional instability, and that percentage may grow as exploration turns towards a number of countries at risk of conflict. In addition, the risk that insurgency and counter-insurgency could affect the global supply chain is not mere speculation, as the example of French intervention in Niger indicates. In the long term, structural risks, such as competition over uranium as a strategic natural resource, seem plausible. The risk of strategic competition contributing to conflict is not a necessary outcome of the present structure of supply and demand, and prices will have to spike significantly for that risk to grow, but experience indicates this can happen rapidly and that therefore this is a risk that needs monitoring. For all of these reasons, the potential role of conflict in the production of uranium and the trafficking in uranium from such sources should not be ignored.

A two-step approach

At present, there does not appear to be enough evidence of illicit exploitation or trafficking in natural or milled uranium to conclude that conflict uranium is a phenomenon requiring urgent action. Nonetheless, the coincidence of armed conflict and uranium production suggests there is a potential for illicit exploitation and trafficking to arise. The challenge for industry leaders and their partners in government is to develop a framework to govern the proliferation and related risks arising from uranium production and trade in the context of armed conflict.

Responding to the risk of the increasing presence of armed conflict in the supply chain of uranium will require two steps. The first involves improvements to existing systems to ensure they are able to identify the risk of conflict in the uranium supply chain and the second is to strengthen the ability of industry and government to respond to those risks. The second involves preparing relevant stakeholders for potential strategic resource competition and local conflicts.

The first step is to adjust the lens through which interested states monitor and evaluate the risks. At present, there appears to be a slight myopia with respect to the proliferation risks from illicit uranium production and trafficking. The macro-level identification of risks using the self-reporting frameworks for states, which for example provide the data for the IAEA-OECD “Red Book”,[17] are of limited value when assessing illicit production and trade in uranium. The experience of attempts to regulate conflict diamonds, timber and minerals is that it is in the very nature of the illicit trade to avoid detection. The economies that accompany armed conflicts are as much sources of power for regime elites and non-state armed groups as they are sources of livelihoods for households.[18] As a result, distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate mineral extraction in such situations is not easy, not least where weak state capacities and informal markets make information difficult to come by.

In fact, the nature of the problem – conflict – means that state capacities to control their borders and monitor cross-border flows are weakened: customs officials are under threat, under-staffed, possibly corrupt, struggling with mass movements of refugees and unable to access territory controlled by insurgents. The situation of conflict means that export data and other state-based data sets are of little use and can only be used in combination with other sources of data, such as independent monitoring and investigation. For example, investigations into trafficking in conflict minerals regularly triangulate production and export data from one country with its neighbours: a spike in production or exports from a neighbouring country in the absence of expansion of extraction activities (or sometimes the presence of exports where there is no production at all) is a good indication of smuggling for re-export. Good estimates of production data and stock locations are necessary for being able to monitor uranium stocks and exports.

In addition, much of the monitoring focus to date has been on nuclear materials, in part because the threat from radioactive materials is more imminent. This has skewed the focus of monitoring towards short-term security risks and away from long-security risks, i.e. towards the immediate terrorist threats and away from the longer-term risk of nuclear weapons proliferation. The point here is not that this balance is incorrect. Rather, the point is that the more immediate threat from radioactive materials has shifted the non-proliferation focus of monitoring to such an extent that it is now hard to find systematic data on uranium smuggling. The IAEA’s Incident and Trafficking Database “covers all types of nuclear material as defined by the Statute of the Agency (i.e. uranium, plutonium and thorium), naturally occurring and artificially produced”,[19] but only public summaries are available. Other public domain databases do not appear to cover uranium smuggling at all, sticking to the more immediate threat of HEU or other radioactive materials.[20]

In short, the risk monitoring system that exists today may not be capturing illicit production and trade in uranium. States may be unable or unwilling to report illicit production or trade and may be hesitant to include conflict or insurgency as a monitoring category.[21] Meanwhile, non-state monitoring may be focused on the terrorist security threat to the detriment of the proliferation risks arising from uranium smuggling. Even where non-state investigations and datasets do include indicators of armed conflict or social unrest they may cover only radioactive materials and not necessarily cover uranium production and export.

The second step in responding to the risk of the increasing presence of armed conflict in the supply chain of uranium is a more comprehensive effort to prepare the global industry for the challenges to international cooperation that may arise from strategic resource competition and the resulting local conflicts that may result from it. This involves multi-stakeholder dialogue towards development of responsible supply chain management. Unlike other industries which have taken on this task – textiles, gold, diamonds, tin, etc. – the uranium industry is more closely linked to states than it is to consumer markets. The 2013 French intervention in Niger to protect the assets of Areva, the largest uranium production company in the world, is perhaps one indication of how instability may affect conflict dynamics in uranium producing countries. In this sense, the major stakeholders are industry, not least the mining and milling companies, as well as the governments of key producing and consuming countries. Representatives of workers and affected communities should also be at the table, but the structure of the industry indicates the strongest influence will lie with a handful of states and companies.

In the uranium industry, supply is dominated by relatively few companies, and this group is dominated by companies with close ties to state interests. The US Geological Survey states that “[a]pproximately 25 companies are producing uranium worldwide. Of these companies, the top fourteen provided 91percent of mined uranium in 2010” [22] (see Figure 2 above). Areva is a state-owned company from France with investments on every continent, not least Africa. KazAtomProm is a state-owned company from Kazakhstan, which is invested primarily in domestic production (Kazahkstan recently overtook Canada and the single largest producer of uranium). ARMZ is the mining arm of the Russian state’s nuclear corporation, ROSATOM, and Navoi is the uranium-mining corporation owned by the state of Uzbekistan. The remaining companies are publically listed corporations from Canada (Cameco is the privatized heir of Canada’s two state-owned uranium mining enterprises), Australia and Britain.  Most of these companies are focused on extraction in a limited number of areas with large deposits – such as Cameco in Canada and BHP Billiton in Australia – while others have a more diverse operations extending to a number of countries and continents, such as Areva.

An effective framework for responding to the risks arising from conflict requires defining the responsibilities of the various stakeholders involved in uranium extraction and trade, not least the key points in the commodity chain from which oversight is easiest (so-called supply chain “choke-points”). Recent attempts at regulating cross-border movements of raw minerals in conflict situations have assumed an approach in which states have sought to develop a level playing field based on a definition of what constitutes responsible business conduct in such situations, and business has responded by implementing specific measures to manage the social impacts of their supply chains.

A multilateral framework for private sector risk mitigation

In May 2011, ministers of Member States the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) signed off on the “Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chain Management of Minerals for Conflict Affected and High Risk Areas.”[23] The Guidance itself is not legally binding, but it has been adopted as a regulatory standard applicable to business in a number of countries, including the US and in the Great Lakes region of Africa.[24]

The guidance was developed with specific reference to the mineral sectors relevant for the DRC and in partnership with business, civil society and those countries most directly involved in the trade. The Intergovernmental Commission on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) endorsed the Guidance in late 2010, at about the same time as the UN Security Council called upon states to “raise awareness” about the Guidance and authorized an expert group to assess its implementation.[25]

The Guidance provides a “Model Supply Chain Policy”[26] which defines both conflict-financing[27] and human rights risks as the basis for business to conduct due diligence within its supply chain of minerals. Article 1 of the Model Policy commits a company to not “tolerate [nor] by any means profit from, contribute to, assist with of facilitate the commission by any party of:

i)  any forms of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment;
ii)  any forms of forced or compulsory labour
iii)  the worst forms of child labour
iv)  other gross human rights violations and abuses such as widespread sexual violence;
v)  war crimes or other serious violations of international humanitarian law, crimes against humanity or genocide.

In conflict situations, the role of armed groups or security forces become problematic in relation to mineral extraction when they,

“[…] illegally control mine sites, transportation routes and upstream actors in the supply chain; illegally tax or extort money or minerals at point of access to mine sites, along transportation routes or at point where minerals are traded; or illegally tax or extort intermediaries, export companies or international traders”.[28]

Articles 3 and 5 of the Model Policy also set out a definition of conflict financing in the context of mineral extraction as “direct or indirect support” to non-state armed groups, public or private security forces “through the extraction, transport, trade handling or export of minerals”. The Model Supply Chain Policy explains that this includes direct or indirect support, such as “procuring minerals from, making payments to or otherwise providing logistical assistance or equipment to” such groups or forces. This includes support provided via “affiliates” such as business “intermediaries” in the supply chain who work directly with such groups or forces “to facilitate the extraction, trade of handling of minerals”.

The language and approach of the Model Policy is carefully crafted to accommodate legitimate state interests with respect securing their own natural resource wealth within their own jurisdiction. Although the Model Policy sets out a universal standard of conflict financing and human rights protections that companies should apply to all armed actors, including non-state armed groups, state armed forces and private security forces, it also provides for different company responses depending on whether the problems detected are caused by armed groups or state security providers.

The approach of the Model Supply Chain Policy is to set out a definition of a universal minimum standard against which a business can assess whether it is contributing to financing the conflict or to human rights abuses associated with the conflict. This definition is both more detailed and more comprehensive than previous attempts to identify what businesses should not be doing in relation to conflict: both the UN’s resolutions on conflict diamonds[29] and the ICGLR Protocol on Illicit Exploitation[30] refer to human rights and the problem of conflict financing, but they do not define these, nor do they deploy the concepts in the operative elements of the resolutions. Previous attempts to grapple with the problem have defined the source of the problem as rebel or non-state exploitation of a resource. Rather than this actor-based approach, the OECD Guidance defines the problem on the basis of a defined set of activities – conflict financing and human rights abuse – and applied that same standard universally to both state security agencies and non-state armed groups.

The OECD Guidance locates primary responsibility for implementation of due diligence with industry, not with states. The Guidance recognizes that states are the primary duty bearers under international law. But the Guidance is centred on the concept of due diligence by business as the basis for ensuring respect for human rights in relation to business activity. The OECD Guidance defines and imposes the responsibility on business entities to be ensuring the ethical value of their supply chains, through an obligation for conducting due diligence on its own supply chain.

In the uranium supply chain, the principle points of proliferation risk would appear to be post milling (oxide or yellow cake form), from which enrichment is possible and post-enrichment, when HEU, plutonium or other radionuclides are capable of being deployed as weapons, both in nuclear devices or dirty bombs. At present, the regulatory framework governing the second point of proliferation risk appears to be robust, although improvements can be made.[31] The due diligence approach outlined here, adapted to the uranium mining and milling industry, would strengthen the governance of the uranium supply chain with respect to proliferations risks arising from diversion in situations of conflict or weak governance, as well as human rights risks to workers and communities. It would do so on the basis of collective inter-governmental action in creating a level playing field for the industry to manage the risks associated uranium trade in situations of armed conflict.

The due diligence approach enables business to continue operating in complex environments, and recognizes that there are limits to what states can regulate in conflict situations. This approach establishes a minimum standard which business should not violate and helps to improve their risk management systems. For governments, such an approach provides the basis for agreement in advance concerning the responsibilities that might arise from uranium extraction in conflict situations, for whom, and how these might be regulated. It establishes a common framework that can inform the work of national law enforcement agencies, transnational agencies such as Interpol and Europol, as well as the relevant UN bodies, concerned with non-proliferation, UN sanctions and peacekeeping.


The illicit exploitation and trade in natural resources has become a common feature of contemporary armed conflict, so much so that the phenomenon of “conflict minerals” has established itself on the radar screen of policy makers at the UN Security Council, OECD, EU and major producer and consumer economies. The evidence indicates that “conflict uranium” is not a significant part of the global uranium supply chain. But the evidence also suggests that there are risks of conflict becoming a more important part of uranium production. The risk posed by uranium in its natural state is low and as such the illicit trade in natural uranium is not a significant security challenge. However, it is a proliferation risk and to the extent that uranium production becomes a part of conflict economies, it is a risk to people and affected communities as well. The conclusion of this short study is that more could be done to monitor and mitigate those risks and that there are existing approaches which would enable industry and governments to better manage the conflict risks faced by the uranium business.

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[1]        Patrick Marnham, “Tracing the Congolese Mine That Fuelled Hiroshima”, Telegraph, November 4, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/10416945/Tracing-the-Congolese-mine-that-fuelled-Hiroshima.html.

[2]       Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars, The New Landscape of Global Conflict (New York, NY, Owl Books, 2001); for a more recent treatment of the phenomenon see Le Billon, Wars of Plunder, Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources, (London, C. Hurst & Co., 2012).

[3]       The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Arms, (2006), p. 83

[4]       Ibid; See also, e.g., “Preventing Nuclear Terrorism: Australia’s leadership role”, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, January 2014.

[5]       Nuclear materials are usually defined as plutonium or uranium isotopes enriched beyond the levels of radioactive isotopes in a concentration greater than that found in nature; see, e.g, Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, Article 1 INFCIRC/274/Rev.1 (1980); see also National Legislation Implementation Kit on Nuclear Security,  Presented by the Republic of Indonesia to the Nuclear Security Summit, The Hague, the Netherlands, 24–25 March 2014 (Vertic, 2014).

[6]       Klare, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resource (2012).

[7]       Mark B. Taylor, Economies of Violence and Peacebuilding: Towards Policy Coherence, Policy Brief (Noref – Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre, May 2012).

[8]       Roger Moody, Rocks and Hard Places: The Globalization of Mining (London, Zed Books, 2007) p. 190. See also Ecumenical Network Central Africa, “Uranium Mining in the DR Congo: A Radiant Business for European Nuclear Companies?” (June 2011), pp. 15–17 citing diplomatic cables made available by Wikileaks and UN reports. Available from: http://www.nuclear-risks.org/fileadmin/user_upload/pdfs/Uranium_Mining_in_the_DRC_OENZ_June_2011.pdf.

[9]       See ISS, “Navigating Nuclear Traffic” (November 2013). Available from: http://www.issafrica.org/iss-today/navigating-nuclear-traffic; BBC, “Indian Politician Accused of Smuggling Uranium” 16 June 1998. Available from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/113674.stm.; CNN, “Moldovan Authorities Seize Smuggled Uranium”, 24 August 2010. Available from: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/08/24/moldova.uranium.discovered/.; BBC, “Iran Nuclear: ‘Uranium Shoe’ Man Arrested in US”, 24 August 2013. Available from: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-23825972.

[10]      OECD Nuclear Energy Agency and the International Atomic Energy Agency (OECD–IAEA), “Uranium 2011:Resources, Production and Demand” (2012), pp. 59–63.

[11]       In Pakistan, uranium production is located in the Punjab where the main Pakistan Taliban group has become inactive. In the Ukraine, uranium production is in the central part of the country (west of the Dneiper river) outside the present conflict zone but within the geographic reach of Novorossiya, the area of Ukraine which Russian authorities have spoken of as traditionally Russian. This area of Ukraine produces an estimated 20 per cent of Russia’s uranium imports. See  Damian Handzy, “Volatility Could Return with a Vengeance on Geopolitical Risk,” Hedge Funds Review, 9 September 2014. Available from: http://www.risk.net/hedge-funds-review/analysis/2363792/handzy-volatility-could-return-with-a-vengeance-on-geopolitical-risk.

[12]      Lyudmila Zaitseva and Friedrich Steinhäusler, Nuclear Trafficking Issues in the Black Sea Region, Non-Proliferation Papers (EU Non-Proliferation Consortium, April 2014); see also Renselær W. Lee III, Smuggling Armageddon: The Nuclear Black Market in the Former Soviet Union and Europe (New York, NY, St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998).

[13]      Reuters, “France Orders Special Forces to Protect Niger Uranium: Source”, 24 January 2013. Available from: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/24/us-mali-rebels-niger-areva-idUSBRE90N0OD20130124; Global Research, “Mali ‘Resource War’ Extends into Niger: France Sends Troops to Secure Niger Uranium Mines”, 29 January 2013. Available from: 2014, http://www.globalresearch.ca/mali-resource-war-extends-into-niger-france-sends-troops-to-secure-niger-uranium-mines/5320825.

[14]      OECD–IAEA Op. Cit, Uranium 2011, pp. 42–58.

[15]      The dynamic interaction of local conflicts and global competition of strategic natural resources is one identified by Klare (2012) op. cit. footnote 7.

[16]      Susan Hall and Margaret Coleman, Critical Analysis of World Uranium Resources (US Department of the Interior, US Geological Survey, 2012), p. 36. Available from: http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2012/5239/sir2012-5239.pdf.

[17]Uranium 2011 (2012).

[18]      For a comprehensive analysis of social and economies conditions in irregular wars see Morten Bøås, The Political Economy of the Conflict Trade: Contextualising Illicit Miners and Informal Traders (Routledge, 2013); also Le Billon, Wars of Plunder, Conflicts, Profits and the Politics of Resources; The World Development Report 2011 Conflict, Security and Development, World Bank, 2011; also Patricia Justino, Tilman Brück, and Philip Verwimp, Micro-Level Dynamics of Conflict, Violence and Development: A New Analytical Framework, Working Paper, HiCN, (January 2013), http://www.hicn.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/HiCN-WP-138.pdf.

[19]      International Atomic Energy Agency, “IAEA Incident and Trafficking Database” (2014). Available from: http://www-ns.iaea.org/security/itdb.asp.

[20]     See, e.g., the Nuclear Materials Security Index, Nuclear Threat Initiative; NTI’s otherwise useful index consists of nuclear materials questions relating to HEU, plutonium and MOX fuel; see “Sub-Indicator: Quantities of Nuclear Materials” in the Index data file available from http://ntiindex.org/data-results/2014-findings/; the “Database on Nuclear Smuggling, Theft, and Orphan Radiation Sources (DSTO) operated by the University of Salzburg in Austria appears to capture a wider set of incidents, see Lyudmila Zaitseva, “Organized Crime, Terrorism and Nuclear Trafficking,” Strategic Insights VI, no. 5 (August 2007).

[21]      States tend not to want to accept the distinction of being labelled as being “in conflict”, preferring instead to refer to problems with terrorists or criminals. Colombia, for example, fought insurgencies for decades, yet regularly rejected the idea that it could be considered as experiencing civil war.

[22]      Hall and Coleman (2012), op. cit. footnote 19.

[23]      What follows draws in part on Mark B. Taylor, Conflict Financing: What’s Wrong with War Economies? (Noref – Norwegian Peacebuilding Centre, May 2013) as well as Mark B. Taylor, “Regulating Illicit Flows to and From Wars,” in Companies in Conflict Situations: Building a Research Network on Business, Conflicts and Human Rights, ICIP Research 01 (Institut Català Internacional Per La Pau, 2013). See also “OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Affected and High-Risk Areas – Second Edition” (Oransiation for Economic Cooperation, 2013), http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/mne/GuidanceEdition2.pdf. hereinafter “OECD 2013”.

[24]      The US introduced conflict minerals reporting requirements under Dod-Frank 1502 (2010) and the EU is considering similar legislation at the time of writing.

[25]      UN Security Council Resolution 1952 (2010) Renewing Sanctions in Relation to DRC Conflict S/RES/1952 (2010). Available from: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1952(2010).

[26]      Annex II, OECD 2013.

[27]      See Ibid, Taylor (2012 and 2013): For the purposes of policy and law, conflict financing is defined here as activities or relationships that generate revenues for armed groups or parties to a conflict. The conflict-financing framework identifies human agency in war economies, places this agency in a causal context, and provides a taxonomy of conflict-financing behaviour. The conflict-financing concept assumes that the coincidence of armed violence and informal economies offers state and non-state users of force unique access to economic opportunities. At the same time the framework recognises that the ways in which coercion itself is influenced by the legal, social and economic reality in which it is deployed.

[28]      Annex II, 3 and 5 OECD 2013.

[29]      A/RES/55/56 (2001) “UN General Assembly Resolution 55/56 on Conflict Diamonds”. Available from: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/sites/www.nrcan.gc.ca.minerals-metals/files/pdf/mms-smm/busi-indu/kpd-pdk/un-resol-eng.pdf.

[30]     “Protocol on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources – Protocol against the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources, International Conference of the Great Lakes Region”, 30 November 2006. Available from: https://icglr.org/IMG/pdf/Protocol_against_the_Illegal_Exploitation_of_Natural_Resources.pdf.

[31]      Op. Cit Weapons of Terror footnote 4.