Nuclear Communities: Epistemic Community Structure and Nuclear Proliferation Latency
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This dissertation examines variation in nuclear weapons proliferation outcomes and program duration. This seeks to address a persisting gap in the scholarship of nuclear weapons and their proliferation using quantitative models probing various postulated determinants of proliferation efforts. It is argued that the structure of epistemic communities in proliferating states, working in areas related to the nuclear fuel cycle, directly impacts a country’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons and the length of time necessary to do so, referenced in this work as program latency. Distinct structural features of these technical communities, such as network size, cohesion, compartmentalization, and institutional reliance, as well as other potential explanatory variables, are examined to distinguish key factors of both proliferation outcomes and duration. Significant statistical support for the structure of epistemic communities within proliferating states, in particular the over-reliance on institutions for interconnectivity through the network, is demonstrated as being an important component of this variation puzzle. This yields important findings for the literature on nuclear proliferation, nonproliferation policy, as well as the study of network dynamics within large scientific enterprises.