"Bayesian Network Analysis of Nuclear Acquisitions,"
M.S. Thesis, Texas A & M University, December 2008.
Nuclear weapons proliferation produces
a vehement global safety and security concern. Perhaps most
threatening is the scenario of a rogue nation or a terrorist
organization acquiring nuclear weapons where the conventional ideas
of nuclear deterrence may not apply. To combat this threat,
innovative tools are needed that will help to improve understanding
of the pathways an organization will take in attempting to obtain
nuclear weapons and in predicting those pathways based on existing
evidence. In this work, a methodology was developed for predicting
these pathways. This methodology uses a Bayesian network. An
organization's motivations and key resources are evaluated to
produce the prior probability distributions for various pathways.
These probability distributions are updated as evidence is added.
The methodology is implemented through the use of the commercially
available Bayesian network software package,
A few simple scenarios are considered
to show that the model's predictions agree with intuition. These
scenarios are also used to explore the model's strengths and
limitations. The model provides a means to measure the relative
threat that an organization poses to nuclear proliferation and can
identify potential pathways that an organization will likely
pursue. Thus, the model can serve to facilitate preventative
efforts in nuclear proliferation. The model shows that an
organization's motivations biased the various pathways more than
their resources; however, resources had a greater impact on an
organization's overall chance of success. Limitations of this model
are that (1) it can not account for deception, (2) it can not
account for parallel weapon programs, and (3) the accuracy of the
output can only be as good as the user input. This work developed
the first, published, quantitative methodology for predicting
nuclear proliferation with consideration for how an organization's
motivations impact their pathway probabilities.
Associated Project(s):Terrorism Pathway Analysis and Assessments