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"Antiproliferation: Tackling Proliferation by Engaging the Private Sector"

Spools of carbon fiber, a material with both nuclear and non-nuclear uses.

"Antiproliferation: Tackling Proliferation by Engaging the Private Sector"

Discussion Paper 2012-15, Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

November 2012

Author: Ian J. Stewart, Former Research Fellow, International Security Program/Project on Managing the Atom, 2011–2013

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy



This paper exploits the concept of antiproliferation to analyze the potential for mobilizing the private sector in countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Illicit trade from the international marketplace plays a direct role in sustaining the nuclear and missile programs of several countries, including Iran, in defiance of UN sanctions. These programs also profit indirectly from trade-enabling services, such as insurance, financing, and shipping. It is argued that almost all firms will work to avoid direct involvement with proliferation for a variety of reasons, but that firms often lack the systems, expertise, and information required to identify illicit proliferation-related trade.

This paper sets out what measures the private sector should take in order to manage the legal, financial and reputational risks associated with involvement in proliferation-related trade, and makes recommendations to national authorities for how to support antiproliferation. These recommendations center on the creation of partnerships between national authorities and the private sector. Strategically engaging the private sector requires partnerships to be developed between governments and businesses and, at the practical level, that a range of tools, services, and guidance materials also be developed. The potential contribution of third-party facilitators in developing and deploying antiproliferation is also examined.


For more information about this publication please contact the MTA Program Assistant at 617-495-4219.

For Academic Citation:

Stewart, Ian J. "Antiproliferation: Tackling Proliferation by Engaging the Private Sector." Discussion Paper 2012-15, Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center, November 2012.

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