Although in the United States and worldwide, the acceptance of nuclear systems has been abundantly regulated from a safety standpoint, the regulation of the nonproliferation performance of these systems still needs to be formalized. For nonproliferation, there are no regulations, formal license processes, or protocols to follow similar to the ones used by the nuclear sector to quantify and address safety risks. Consensus on how to address nonproliferation standards has not been achieved yet by regulators, designers, and policy makers, despite the urgent need to construct a clear framework to understand and formalize nonproliferation requirements of future and current nuclear systems.

Appropriate tools and policies are needed to systematically quantify the standard of proliferation performance of nuclear energy systems, and to define the boundaries within which proliferation metrics can be considered acceptable.

This paper tackles these issues by setting up a framework where risk, specifically the risk to covertly acquire special nuclear materials, can be used to evaluate the antiproliferation performance of nuclear systems. Specifically, it presents a treatment that, built upon analogy with the nuclear safety case, incorporates all the relevant features needed to set up a risk-informed licensing process for nuclear nonproliferation. The conceived framework can be used to assist the evaluation of the different solutions proposed internationally in order to strengthen the current nonproliferation regime.