A new report by Jeffrey Lewis of the Center for Nonproliferation Studies examines how the information revolution, and especially social media, is changing the field of nonproliferation. The availability of these “new tools” is affecting not just how nongovernmental experts study the problem, but how governments behave too.
The report explores the versatility of the new tools by focusing on one particular nuclear detective story – a 2014 allegation that Iran had built a secret underground centrifuge facility – that was disproven by the open source community using new tools. The facility in question made identification documents, such as passports and ID cards, not nuclear material. Chapter 1 provides an overview on new tools and recounts the detective work that went into examining this facility, while subsequent chapters provide detailed explanations of each of the open source methods used and their broader applicability to nonproliferation policy. These new tools include commercial satellite imagery, computer-aided modeling, metadata, civil data, and social media.