Social Network Analysis of Nuclear Proliferation


The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and development of new nuclear programs are considered by many to be one of the biggest challenges facing the Obama administration. In addition to terrorist groups and organized crime networks, several governments have expressed interest in creating such programs and are increasingly working with existing nuclear networks. With all of the destruction nuclear weapons can cause why would anyone want to develop a nuclear program, knowing its dangerous effects? Indeed, there are multiple theories why countries would or would not want to pursue such a program. Nation states that have a desire to develop nuclear weapons require certain materials, technologies, and intellectual expertise which are most easily acquired from other countries.

This study examines the case of Venezuela and whether or not that country is capable of joining the nuclear club. A 2009 bilateral trade agreement between Iran and Venezuela showed this country’s recognition of Iran’s legitimate right to its nuclear program and that Venezuela supports Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear technology. Can Venezuela garner sufficient support from Iran and countries such as Russia, North Korea and China to develop its own program? Who will lead Venezuela’s nuclear program and what should the U.S. response be?

This case study will attempt to answer these and many other questions by using a social network analysis (SNA) methodology using publically available information to analyze Venezuela’s interactions with other nuclear capable countries towards the development of indications and warnings. It also will examine the formal and informal networks within the Venezuelan government, to determine central figures in charge of a potential nuclear program, and identify potential external Venezuelan partners. The final study will be available to US Government Personnel.

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