Blockchain Could Make Dismantling Nuclear Warheads More Secure: UK Report

Nations working to decommission nuclear weapons should turn to blockchain to build trust and make the verification process more secure, a new policy report says.

Nov 2, 2020 at 12:12 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:26 a.m. UTC

Nations working to take nuclear weapons out of commission should turn to blockchain to build trust and make the process more secure, according to a new policy report.

As reported by King's College London on Monday, research from the university's Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) suggests that using blockchain would help parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty build trust and make dismantling nuclear weapons more "safe, secure and reliable."

Titled "The Trust Machine: Blockchain in Nuclear Disarmament and Arms Control Verification," the policy report is aimed at providing policymakers a non-technical look at how blockchain technology could them conform to the requirements of nuclear disarmament verification.

Among the specific benefits the technology can offer for the dismantling data management process, the report's authors list "an immutable, encrypted record of chain-of-custody for treaty-accountable items," allowing third parties to verify the disarmament without actually seeing the data.

Another is a "cryptographic escrow" for national declarations allowing sensitive data to be released in a phased manner.

The team – led by CSSS Research Associate Dr. Lyndon Burford – further says blockchain could provide a secure data platform for location sensors and environmental monitors. This could enable real-time monitoring at remote sites, "automatically alerting participants to potential treaty violations," the report suggests.

With nations unwilling to expose sensitive data concerning nuclear weapons, Dr. Burford said governments "often lack sufficient trust in each other to cooperate on such measures."

The report's title reflects the possibility blockchain could be a tool to build that trust by offering an encrypted, tamperproof way to manage the data around warhead dismantling, according to the report.

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