A Process Model for Nuclear Safeguarding

  • Lorenzo G A van Wijk

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Several nuclear safeguarding treaties and agreements have been set up through the IAEA and others to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. However these cannot and have not prevented a rogue country from acquiring nuclear weapons. Assessing that a country adheres to the treaties is not sufficient on its own to rule out that a country is not trying to develop an elicit nuclear weapon program. The aim of this thesis is to examine that the systems methodology set out by Blockley and Godfrey (2000) called ‘doing it differently’ has the potential to improve the effectiveness of nuclear safeguarding. The advantage of the methodology is that it has the potential to enable the whole context (hard and soft systems) to be addressed in a consistent manner. Thus all of the information and evidence relating to both the hard systems (e.g. gas centrifuge facility, reprocessing facility) and soft systems (eg political intent to comply with agreements, developing scientific expertise) can be combined into one model. By combining hierarchical process modelling with uncertain evidence management then performance and success may well be improved. All of the players in the processes such as inspectors of the IAEA, experts, intelligence analysts, policy makers, the media and the citizens have to be involved to build a comprehensive model. The model developed in this thesis incorporates sufficient of the technical, scientific, political and economical issues to demonstrate the feasibility of the approach. The main objectives of this research are to: 1) build a feasible paper version of a process model; 2) define and name a detailed set of sub-processes; 3) identify some of the processes through which the model could be tested in this and future work; 4) define descriptors for each of these processes; 5) test the ‘Italian Flag’ methodology for assessing uncertain evidence outcomes intuitively (i.e. not yet using the mathematical formulation). In this thesis a partial feasible model of the whole nuclear safeguarding process (i.e. testing that ‘Ruritania’ does not pose a nuclear threat to international peace) has been produced using mindmaps. The classification of the sub processes was done using BCIOD+R. The operational ‘O’ processes were developed in more detail to the technical level (e.g. components of a gas centrifuge rotor). Certain of these processes have been described in detail using ‘why, who, what, where, when and how’. The work has shown that the ‘doing it differently’ methodology is feasible for application to nuclear safeguarding. Clearly substantially more development work is required to deliver even a preliminary prototype.The work has demonstrated that the methodology has enormous potential to: co-ordinate information and evidence from various technical experts in the field; co-ordinate technical and non technical information and evidence; to create an ability to search and visualise evidence to derive answers to high level (or even low level) questions; to create better value for money in the whole safeguarding activities; to improve the provision of the right information to the right person at the right time.
Date of Award2006
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bristol
SupervisorDavid I Blockley (Supervisor) & Gordon Hughes (Supervisor)

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