Signals of Nuclear Proliferation in Open Source Media

Posted: 19th February 2013
Signals of Nuclear Proliferation in Open Source Media

Centrifuge technology is critical to developing nuclear fuel and is thus important to those tracking nuclear proliferation. With this in mind, we looked at mentions of centrifuge technology over the past two years in online media using Recorded Future and found a few events of interest:

  • A writer for Playboy magazine alleges that A.Q. Khan’s (Pakistan’s Dr. Strangelove) fourth customer was none other than India.
  • USEC, an American nuclear power plant fuel supplier, is developing (with Japan) highly efficient enrichment technology to reduce it’s reliance on low-enriched uranium from Russia.

The above network is tuned to display mentions of centrifuge technology in particular. There are many other ways nuclear materials and weapons technologies are discussed, so to change the angle, we also looked at what Chinese-language media focused on when talking about nuclear proliferation. This timeline reflects the last year of online information, and you’ll find a summary of several highlights beneath:

  • One thing that immediately pops out is how localized (on China and its neighbors) most of the coverage is
  • We also see significant coverage of the alleged North Korean-Burmese nuclear connection where the Japan reportedly seized raw materials used in the construction of a uranium enrichment centrifuge or missile that North Korea intended for Myanmar:
    • The raid took place in August, but most of the coverage takes place in late November right after President Obama’s visit to Myanmar.
    • While most of focus on the Obama’s Myanmar trip focused on his promotion of human rights and the novelty of the visit (a first for a sitting U.S. president), the trip also secured the agreement of Myanmar’s government to declare all of its nuclear facilities and materials.

You can access and interact with the Recorded Future report entitled Centrifugal Forces containing these visualizations, and we’d be interested to hear your thoughts about how these tools can be used as a jumping off point for monitoring signs of nuclear proliferation in open source media.