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Commercial Satellite Imagery Analysis for Countering Nuclear Proliferation

Authors
  • Albright, David
  • Burkhard, Sarah
  • Lach, Allison
Type
Published Article
Journal
Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences
Publisher
Annual Reviews
Publication Date
May 30, 2018
Volume
46
Pages
99–121
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-earth-063016-015704
Source
Annual Reviews
Keywords
License
Yellow

Abstract

High-resolution commercial satellite imagery from a growing number of private satellite companies allows nongovernmental analysts to better understand secret or opaque nuclear programs of countries in unstable or tense regions, called proliferant states. They include North Korea, Iran, India, Pakistan, and Israel. By using imagery to make these countries’ aims and capabilities more transparent, nongovernmental groups like the Institute for Science and International Security have affected the policies of governments and the course of public debate. Satellite imagery work has also strengthened the efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency, thereby helping this key international agency build its case to mount inspections of suspect sites and activities. This work has improved assessments of the nuclear capabilities of proliferant states. Several case studies provide insight into the use of commercial satellite imagery as a key tool to educate policy makers and affect policy.

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