Abstract: While impressive strides have been made in detecting physical evidence of nuclear weapons production, there is no consensus on how international relationships combine to motivate or deter policymakers from seeking nuclear weapons. Rather than address a single variable, this study investigates how networks of interstate conflict, alliances, trade, and nuclear cooperation merge to increase or decrease the proliferation likelihood of individual states. Using multiplex networks to study the structure of international relations factors theorized to deter or incentivize nuclear proliferation and open-source data on military alliances, macroeconomic ties, armed conflicts, and nuclear cooperation agreements, we construct a multilayer network model in which states are nodes linked by proliferation-relevant variables. This work shows the first quantitative heterogenous analysis of external proliferation determinants using a network science formalism and opens a new avenue of study of the external proliferation motivators for each state within an international network. Preliminary findings suggest that specific external relations—particularly the existence of armed conflict and the signing of Nuclear Cooperation Agreements—largely explain the decision of states to proliferate or not.
About the Speaker: Bethany L. Goldblum is a member of the research faculty in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the Scientific Director of the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, a multi-institution initiative established by DOE’s NNSA to support the nation’s nonproliferation mission through cutting-edge research in nuclear security science in collaboration with the national laboratories. Goldblum founded and directs the Nuclear Policy Working Group, an interdisciplinary team of undergraduate and graduate students focused on developing policy solutions to strengthen global nuclear security. She has been involved with the Public Policy and Nuclear Threats Boot Camp nearly since its inception, and acted as director of the program since 2013. Goldblum received a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007.