Estimating Nuclear Proliferation and Security Risks in Emerging Markets Using Bayesian Belief Networks

Published in: Energy Policy, Volume 159 (December 2021), 112549. doi: 10.1016/j.enpol.2021.112549

by Travis S. Carless, Kenneth Redus, Rachel Steratore

Read More

Access further information on this document at Energy Policy

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

An estimated 28 countries are interested in introducing nuclear power into their electric grid mix. The sudden influx of new nuclear power plants into emerging nuclear energy countries can present further nuclear proliferation and security risks. These risks can be even more prevalent for nations with political instability and limited resources to adequately support a robust nuclear regulatory infrastructure. This paper estimates the nuclear proliferation and security risks associated with the deployment of Generation III + nuclear power plants and Small Modular Reactors to emerging nuclear energy countries using expert judgment in conjunction with Bayesian Belief Networks. On average, Turkey is the most likely to divert nuclear material to develop a nuclear weapon (46% with an rsd of 0.50), divert civilian nuclear knowledge and technology for military use (38% with an rsd of 0.61), and to have their nuclear material stolen by non-state actors (39% with an rsd of 0.65). This is followed by Saudi Arabia at 38% (0.66 rsd), 39% (0.64 rsd), 32% (0.83 rsd), respectively. Reactor type has minimal impact on risk, while nations that pursue domestic enrichment and reprocessing has the greatest impact. In scenarios where emerging nuclear energy countries pursue domestic enrichment and reprocessing, the nuclear proliferation and security risks increase between 16% and 18%, on average. Lower-risk countries that engage in domestic enrichment and reprocessing can have comparable nuclear proliferation and security risks as Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/research-integrity.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.