Use of open source information and commercial satellite imagery for nuclear nonproliferation regime compliance verification by a community of academics
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The proliferation of nuclear weapons is a great threat to world peace and stability. The question of strengthening the nonproliferation regime has been open for a long period of time. In 1997 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors (BOG) adopted the Additional Safeguards Protocol. The purpose of the protocol is to enhance the IAEA’s ability to detect undeclared production of fissile materials in member states. However, the IAEA does not always have sufficient human and financial resources to accomplish this task. Developed here is a concept for making use of human and technical resources available in academia that could be used to enhance the IAEA’s mission. The objective of this research was to study the feasibility of an academic community using commercially or publicly available sources of information and products for the purpose of detecting covert facilities and activities intended for the unlawful acquisition of fissile materials or production of nuclear weapons. In this study, the availability and use of commercial satellite imagery systems, commercial computer codes for satellite imagery analysis, Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)verification International Monitoring System (IMS), publicly available information sources such as watchdog groups and press reports, and Customs Services information were explored. A system for integrating these data sources to form conclusions was also developed. The results proved that publicly and commercially available sources of information and data analysis can be a powerful tool in tracking violations in the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and a framework for implementing these tools in academic community was developed. As a result of this study a formation of an International Nonproliferation Monitoring Academic Community (INMAC) is proposed. This would be an independent organization consisting of academics (faculty, staff and students) from both nuclear weapon states (NWS) and non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS). This community analyzes all types of unclassified publicly and commercially available information to aid in detection of violations of the non-proliferation regime. INMAC shares all of this information with the IAEA and the public. Since INMAC is composed solely by members of the academic community, this organization would not demonstrate any biases in its investigations or reporting.
Solodov, Alexander (2007). Use of open source information and commercial satellite imagery for nuclear nonproliferation regime compliance verification by a community of academics. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from