October 2018: There were nearly 3,000 instances of radiological materials being stolen, lost and illicitly trafficked between 1993 and 2015. The presence of a black market for such substances presents the risk that they may end up in the wrong hands and be used for malicious purposes. This concern is substantiated by known attempts to sell illegally-acquired materials to terrorist groups, and the stated ambitions of such groups to obtain radiological materials for destructive purposes.

In a second article, the bulletin considers the use of biological toxin, ricin, as a bioweapon. In October 2018, President Trump became the latest president of the United States to be targeted in a ricin attack, alongside other prominent US officials. The key to ricin’s appeal as a weapon is that materials are relatively cheap to acquire, and the ready availability of instructions online increases the capability of malicious individuals in manufacturing and delivering the deadly toxin. Few mitigation measures and no available vaccine serve to increase the threat from a ricin attack.