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Title: Reinventing International Nuclear Safeguards in the Centrifuge Enrichment Era
Authors: Walker, Mark Edwin
Advisors: Glaser, Alexander
Contributors: Public and International Affairs Department
Keywords: Centrifuge
Subjects: Public policy
Science history
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: International nuclear safeguards for gas centrifuge enrichment plants (GCEPs) are a key element of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. GCEPs, when misused, can produce material suitable for use in nuclear explosive devices on a rapid time scale, given sufficient capacity. In addition, current technical and political conditions are placing GCEP safeguards under increased scrutiny. Commercial GCEP capacities, along with their potential for rapid misuse, have grown in capacity over the past two decades as gas centrifuge technology has risen to predominance in the uranium enrichment market. Ongoing political attention has been devoted to safeguards verification at Iranian GCEP facilities. Amidst these conditions, this dissertation assesses measures that can be taken to ensure the continual effectiveness and efficiency of international safeguards at GCEPs. In making this assessment, this dissertation studies how safeguards inspectorates, technology holder States and facility operators addressed GCEP safeguards in the past. To date, however, the origins and developmental history of GCEP safeguards have not been thoroughly studied in published literature. This dissertation analyzes an extensive history of GCEP safeguards gathered through archival research in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany to inform recommendations on what should be done to improve GCEP safeguards today. Historical evidence shows that early GCEP safeguards development efforts were beset by a variety of political disputes. These disagreements largely pertained to the negotiation of measures for verifying the absence of GCEP misuse to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU) as weapons material. As a result, international safeguards measures addressing this activity were formed primarily as products of political compromise, with technical considerations playing only a background role. These measures originally provided a substantial deterrent to HEU production. Since the early 1980s, however, when these measures were agreed, the ability of safeguards inspectorates to detect this activity in a timely manner has diminished, leading to a current gap between safeguards needs and capabilities. Based on this research, this dissertation proposes applications of novel unattended monitoring technology to improve detection timeliness capabilities for HEU production and suggests next steps for implementing these systems in the politically charged environment that characterizes contemporary international safeguards discourse.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Public and International Affairs

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