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States facing the decision to develop a nuclear weapons program do so within a broader context of their relationships with other countries. How these diplomatic, economic, and strategic relationships impact proliferation decisions, however, remains under-specified. Adding to the existing empirical literature that attempts to model state proliferation decisions, this article introduces the first quantitative heterogeneous network analysis of how networks of conflict, alliances, trade, and nuclear cooperation interact to spur or deter nuclear proliferation. Using a multiplex network model, we conceptualize states as nodes linked by different modes of interaction represented on individual network layers. Node strength is used to quantify factors correlated with nuclear proliferation and these are combined in a weighted sum across layers to provide a metric characterizing the proliferation behavior of the state. This multiplex network modeling approach provides a means for identifying states with the highest relative likelihood of proliferation—based only on their relationships to other states. This work demonstrates that latent conflict and nuclear cooperation are positively correlated with proliferation, while an increased trade dependence suggests a decreased proliferation likelihood. A case study on Iran’s controversial nuclear program and past nuclear activity is also provided. These findings have clear, policy-relevant conclusions related to alliance posture, sanctions policy, and nuclear assistance. Abstract ©The Authors.


© The Author(s). 2019.
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Applied Network Science