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Combating the financing of proliferation: challenges and new tools

Ian John Stewart (Department of War Studies, King's College, London, UK)
Andrea Viski (Strategic Trade Research Institute, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)
Jonathan Brewer (Department of War Studies, King's College, London, UK)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 11 March 2020

Issue publication date: 7 December 2020




This paper aims to examine why most governments appear to attach less importance to countering proliferation finance than they do to countering money laundering or terrorist financing.


The paper examines this question from a number of perspectives including a definitional perspective, a national regulatory perspective and a private sector implementation perspective.


It is shown that there are presently significant gaps in counter proliferation finance implementation at the national level, with follow-on implications for private sector compliance.

Research limitations/implications

A key finding is that most governments do not address the issue of proliferation finance as distinct from other forms of financial crime such as terrorist financing or money laundering.

Practical implications

Practical opportunities for improved financial sector implementation of counter proliferation finance controls are identified, but it is argued that it is states that must do more to meet their obligations for improvements to be realised.

Social implications

The risk of not doing so is that the financial system will continue to be misused to finance the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


The study seeks to fill a gap in existing academic literature on the question of why proliferation finance receives less attention than other forms of financial crime. The study builds on original research undertaken by the authors including the typologies of proliferation finance, which were later incorporated into an updated Financial Action Task Force report on this topic, as well as events organised by the authors to explore the topic of proliferation finance implementation with governments and the private sector.



This paper was not directly funded by any specific grant, but did benefit from US Department of State grants to King’s College London related to proliferation finance typologies and training material development.


Stewart, I.J., Viski, A. and Brewer, J. (2020), "Combating the financing of proliferation: challenges and new tools", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 27 No. 4, pp. 1107-1121.



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