The Disclosure Dilemma: Nuclear Intelligence and International Organizations

35 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2017 Last revised: 29 Nov 2018

Date Written: October 27, 2018


Scholars have long argued that international organizations solve information problems through increased transparency. This article introduces a distinct problem that instead requires such institutions to keep information secret. We argue that states often seek to reveal intelligence about other states' violations of international rules and laws but are deterred by concerns about revealing the sources and methods used to collect it. Properly equipped international organizations, however, can mitigate these dilemmas by analyzing and acting on sensitive information while protecting it from wide dissemination. Using new data on intelligence disclosures to the International Atomic Energy Agency and an analysis of the full universe of nuclear proliferation cases, we demonstrate that strengthening the Agency's intelligence protection capabilities led to greater intelligence sharing and fewer suspected nuclear facilities. However, our theory suggests that this solution gives informed states a subtle form of influence and is in tension with the normative goal of international transparency.

Keywords: Global Governance, IAEA, Intelligence, International Organizations, International Law, Nuclear Weapons

Suggested Citation

Carnegie, Allison and Carson, Austin, The Disclosure Dilemma: Nuclear Intelligence and International Organizations (October 27, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Allison Carnegie (Contact Author)

Columbia University ( email )

1331 International Affairs Bldg.
420 W. 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
United States

Austin Carson

University of Chicago ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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