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.”
In this MTA seminar, MTA/ISP Fellow Behnam Taebi will argue that nuclear safety governance should move towards a more robust regime including elements of international monitoring and verification. Unlike existing incrementalist improvements that typically come in response to nuclear disasters, it makes sense to implement all these elements at once. Such a big bang approach would necessitate a substantial change in global nuclear safety, moving away from traditional interpretations of national sovereignty. This is needed because nuclear energy production is likely to grow and new reactors will have different global dispersal, veering towards less experienced countries. Furthermore, nuclear waste is currently mounting and there is growing interest in international and multilateral collaboration on disposal. While a comprehensive global governance regime must include both the elements of monitoring/verification and enforcement, more transparent international oversight would improve global nuclear safety through the effects of naming and shaming. The monitoring and enforcement of such a globally organized regime could be introduced at regional level making countries more willing to pool their sovereignty.