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The Trust Paradox in Nuclear Smuggling


This article explores the paradox of trust in the largest nuclear smuggling operation involving highly enriched uranium (HEU) discussed in open source literature. In the first effort to understand the type, extent, and role of trust in nuclear smuggling enterprises, it draws from literature on trust development in legitimate businesses as well as criminal enterprises. Observed behavioral patterns in this case challenge traditional notions of the internal dynamics of temporary groups engaged in nuclear smuggling and operational realities of such activities. The article seeks to explain why individuals agree (and continue) to operate in this high-risk environment, unbound by close personal ties, without any effort to verify the background, motives, or qualifications of the fellow conspirators. It offers ways to advance current nonproliferation efforts in non-state actor interdiction by exploiting the environment of shallow trust in temporary groups.

Publication Information

Full Citation:

Murauskaite, Egle. 2015. "The Trust Paradox in Nuclear Smuggling." The Nonproliferation Review 22 (December): 321-339. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10736700.2016.1147730?journalCode=rnpr20

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