Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Blockchain: A New Aid to Nuclear Export Controls?

| Oct. 19, 2017

Don’t worry if you have yet to hear about blockchain, the emerging technology set to reshape everything from finance and trade to global governance—you are in good company. According to one recent survey of 12,000 people in 11 countries, 60 percent had never heard of the technology and 80 percent could not explain how it works. Yet, for a technology that few understand, blockchain is sure making waves. The World Economic Foundation (WEF), for example, found that 80 percent of global banks will have initiated blockchain-related projects by the end of 2017. Perhaps even more startling: By 2027, the WEF predicts, 10 percent of global gross domestic product will be held in blockchain technology.

While most people have not heard of blockchain, many do know of its most visible implementation, Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency used to store and transfer value. Although cryptocurrencies tend to dominate media attention, the underlying technology, blockchain, has far-reaching applications; it can be used to store property records, clear and settle accounts, ensure the validity and execution of contractual arrangements, and—possibly— prevent the illicit procurement of weapons of mass destruction-related goods and technologies.

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For Academic Citation: Arnold, Aaron.“Blockchain: A New Aid to Nuclear Export Controls?.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 19, 2017.

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