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The illicit trafficking of strategic nuclear commodities (defined here as the goods needed for a covert nuclear program excluding special nuclear materials) poses a significant challenge to the international nuclear nonproliferation community. Export control regulations, both domestically and internationally, seek to inhibit the spread of strategic nuclear commodities by restricting their sale to parties that may use them for nefarious purposes. However, export controls alone are not sufficient for preventing the illicit transfer of strategic nuclear goods. There are two major pitfalls to relying solely on export control regulations for the deterrence of proliferation of strategic goods. First, export control enforcement today relies heavily on the honesty and willingness of participants to adhere to the legal framework already in place. Secondly, current practices focus on the evaluation of single records which allow for the necessary goods to be purchased separately and hidden within the thousands of legitimate commerce transactions that occur each day, disregarding strategic information regarding several purchases. Our research presents two preliminary data-centric approaches for investigating procurement networks of strategic nuclear commodities. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been putting significant effort into nonproliferation activities as an institution, both in terms of the classical nuclear material focused approachmore » and in the examination of other strategic goods necessary to implement a nuclear program. In particular, the PNNL Signature Discovery Initiative (SDI) has codified several scientific methodologies for the detection, characterization, and prediction of signatures that are indicative of a phenomenon of interest. The methodologies and tools developed under SDI have already been applied successfully to problems in bio-forensics, cyber security and power grid balancing efforts and they have now made the nonproliferation of strategic goods into a challenge problem for testing their methodology and tools. As a first step towards the detection and characterization of illicit procurement networks, our research examines procurement networks as defined by a system of entities (people or companies) that enter into transactions of specific items with one another. Once we have defined such networks, we are interested in answering questions about the behavior and characterization of such networks. The questions we wish to answer regarding procurement networks are, first, “Can we detect networks within large, noisy datasets?” and second, “To what extent can we compare multiple networks and identify their similarities?” As procurement networks can be naturally viewed as a graph, we have employed several graph analytic tools to aid in these tasks. In particular, Graphscape, an SDI tool, uses a novel method to approximate edit distance, a graph distance measure based on the number of changes needed to transform one graph into another, in order to measure how similar two given graphs are to each other. Given a set of graphs where vertices represent companies and edges represent a shipment from company A to company B, we can calculate an all-for-all comparison of graphs. In this way, we are able to determine which graphs are most similar, and which require more changes to transform one into the other. The set of graphs to be compared can be further specialized to provide more insight, e.g., using different time periods to explore events in a company life cycle.« less
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Resource Relation:
Conference: Proceedings of the Information Analysis Technologies, Techniques and Methods for Safeguards, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Verification Workshop, May 12-14, 2014, Portland, Oregon, 157-167
Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM), Deerfield, IL, United States(US).
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
SDI; graph analysis; illicit nuclear trafficking