Wed. Oct 23rd, 2019

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Nuclear Weapons Inspection: Encryption System Could Thwart Spies and Expose Hoaxes

A new nuclear weapons inspection technology could enhance inspectors’ ability to verify that a nuclear warhead has been dismantled without compromising state secrets behind the weapon’s design.

This new non-proliferation tool, its inventors argue, would greatly assist the often delicate dance of nuclear weapons inspectors—who want to know they haven’t been hoaxed but are also sensitive to a military’s fear that spies may have infiltrated their ranks.

While nuclear non-proliferation treaties have historically verified the dismantlement of weapons delivery systems like ICBMs and cruise missiles, there have in fact never been any verified dismantlements of nuclear warheads themselves (in part for the reasons described above).

Yet there are 13,000 nuclear warheads in the world, meaning the entire globe is still just a hair trigger away from apocalypse—even as we approach the thirtieth anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse.

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told world leaders last month, “I worry that we are slipping back into bad habits that will once again hold the entire world hostage to the threat of nuclear annihilation.”

How, then, to verifiably dismantle a nuclear bomb?