The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Dialogue on nuclear weapon risk reduction has evolved considerably in recent years as widely perceived nuclear risk, and awareness of the causes of risk, has increased. This seminar will discuss the evolution of the topic, including its presence on the agenda of several multilateral venues and State-led initiatives. It shares an analytical framework developed by UNIDIR for considering the different pathways to nuclear weapon use, and also discusses challenges in the development of common understandings and the identification of joint priorities among States—prerequisites in the adoption of practical and feasible measures towards closing use pathways.