Authors: Hui Zhang
March 14, 2005
Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University

The proliferation of nuclear weapons poses a great threat to international peace and security. How to strengthen the non-proliferation regime has become a central question. In May 1997, the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors adopted the Additional Safeguards Protocol to improve its ability to detect the undeclared production of fissile material. This new strengthened safeguards system has opened the door for the IAEA to use all types of information, including the potential use of commercial satellite imagery. We have therefore been investigating the feasibility of strengthening IAEA safeguards using commercial satellite imagery. This paper explores the new roles of high-resolution commercial satellite imagery to monitor the nuclear proliferation. Based on our analysis on a number of one-meter resolution IKONOS commercial satellite images of nuclear facilities, we found that the new high-resolution commercial satellite imagery would play a new and valuable role in strengthening IAEA safeguards.

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