Nuclear Risk: Across Technologies and Domains

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Online event

Event description
A virtual conference to explore how developments across non-nuclear technologies and domains can impact the risk of nuclear weapon use.

About this event

This Zoom event will take place on 25-26 May 2021, from 2:00 pm to 4:20 pm CEST each day.

Efforts to understand the risk of nuclear weapon use must extend beyond the nuclear domain. The possibility is increasing of potential escalation scenarios that emerge due to entangled interaction across nuclear and non-nuclear capabilities. Pathways to nuclear weapon use could be linked, for instance, to the increased vulnerability of early-warning assets in space to attack; to the susceptibility of command, control, and communications systems to cyber offensive operations; or to the misidentification of ambiguous payloads carried by dual-capable missiles. This two-day virtual event seeks to:

  • Explore the ‘state of play’ involving developments in non-nuclear capabilities in the context of nuclear risk;
  • Consider longer-term impacts of advancements in relevant non-nuclear domains;
  • Bridge conversations across nuclear and non-nuclear communities;
  • Derive priorities for stakeholders to consider in taking forward risk reduction efforts.

Tentative Agenda:

25 May 2021, Tuesday (Day 1)

Remarks from:

  • Robin Geiss, Director, UNIDIR
  • Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen, Finland

Session 1: Cyber Operations and Nuclear Weapons Systems

  • Andrew Futter, Professor of International Politics, University of Leicester, UK (moderator)
  • Lyu Jinghua, Northeast Asia Programme Director, Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue
  • Oleg Shakirov, Consultant, PIR Center

Session 2: Space and Nuclear Weapons Systems

  • Raji Rajagopalan, Director, Centre for Security, Strategy & Technology (CSST), Observer Research Foundation (ORF), New Delhi (moderator)
  • Paul Meyer, Adjunct Professor of International Studies, Simon Fraser University and member Outer Space Institute
  • Victoria Samson, Washington Office Director, Secure World Foundation

26 May 2021, Wednesday (Day 2)

Session 3: Advanced Conventional Capabilities & Nuclear Weapons Systems

  • Kristin Ven Bruusgaard, Postdoctoral Fellow (Assistant Professor), Oslo Nuclear Project, Department of Political Science, University of Oslo (moderator)
  • Dmitry Stefanovich, Research Fellow, Center for International Security at the Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS)
  • Rebecca Hersman, Director, Project on Nuclear Issues and Senior Adviser, International Security Program, CSIS

Session 4: Technology and Human Decision-Making in Nuclear Weapons

  • Vincent Boulanin, Senior Researcher, SIPRI (moderator)
  • Rabia Akhtar, Director Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research, University of Lahore, Pakistan
  • John Borrie, Senior Research Fellow, WMDOSW Programme, UNIDIR

The link to the virtual conference will be shared with registered attendees in the days leading up to the event.

If you are interested in UNIDIR's continuing work on nuclear weapon risk reduction, please visit our website.

If you have any questions, please write

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