IST Launches New Crisis Communications Resilience Working Group

Sylvia Mishra

By Sylvia Mishra on October 11, 2023

The Institute for Security and Technology (IST) is pleased to announce the establishment of the Crisis Communications Resilience Working Group, a new effort to augment nuclear risk reduction efforts and promote effective, secure, multilateral crisis communications among nuclear-armed states. The Working Group (WG) consists of scholars, academics, practitioners, and technical experts from across Europe, Asia, and North America. 

In a series of meetings over the course of the coming months, WG members will volunteer their time to identify and tackle the most stubborn political challenges hindering progress towards international cooperation on existing and novel nuclear crisis communication solutions. 

The Working Group’s efforts are centered around a series of primary objectives. First, drawing on their unique backgrounds, the WG will offer constructive and proactive ideas towards the establishment of secure crisis communications among the nine nuclear-armed countries. Second, members will engage with stakeholders representing governments and civil society in nuclear-armed states to understand and offer clarity on existing crisis communication efforts and related processes currently in place. Third, the WG will generate and share creative ideas on ways to advance the political goals of novel, dedicated and resilient nuclear hotlines. The group will also engage in a thorough examination of the current operating environments and ideate how leaders of states can communicate with each other when existing channels of communications are disrupted and degraded. Fourth, the WG will advance ideas around the concept of CATALINK (an internationally-driven, secure, resilient communications solution that has the potential to avert catastrophes) in order to help to build out possible norms of engagement. Finally, members will also assess how emerging and disruptive technologies could undermine – or improve – existing communication architectures. 

“As IST continues to serve as a thought-leader on managing disruptive technologies and driving global thinking around resilient crisis communications to advance nuclear risk reduction, we are pleased to announce the establishment of this Working Group,” said Chief Executive Officer Philip Reiner. “This effort is just the latest in a series of IST-led initiatives to spearhead work on policy and technology issues through a globally-focused, broadly collaborative manner. We are grateful to each of the experts across the nuclear policy and technical fields who are dedicating their time and valuable insight to this group and look forward to their uniquely powerful insights and advice.” 

The establishment of this Working Group derives from IST’s work on nuclear command, control and communications systems (NC3), and the emergent need for novel crisis communication solutions, over the last 4 years. In 2019, IST, in collaboration with the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and the Preventive Defense Project at Stanford University, hosted a series of workshops with leading global policy officials and entrepreneurs, centered on modern day nuclear command, control, and communications systems. The idea for CATALINK, a creative communications solution that relies on open-source technology and secure, resilient mesh networks, originated from this workshop. 

Since then, IST has developed a rich portfolio of research with actionable ideas and policy recommendations dedicated to examining key threats to nuclear crisis communications systems. IST’s research focuses on investigating existing inadequacies in modern crisis communications and investing in innovative solutions to mitigate the vulnerabilities present in existing crisis communications systems. 

Many world leaders, much like IST, have recognized the need for secure crisis communications channels. For example, the Biden administration has prioritized establishing secure channels among the P5 capitals. The Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament likewise released a  policy document that called for immediate action to update and adapt crisis communications hotlines to meet present and future challenges. Despite recognition of its importance and urgency, we have yet to see significant progress in advancing the crisis communications agenda. 

Through the efforts of this WG, IST will continue advancing innovative solutions to build resilience and integrity in crisis communications systems and promote shared notions of best practices surrounding their use to strengthen nuclear risk reduction. 

We appreciate the continued support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Foreign Office in championing this work and the CATALINK initiative. 


Sylvia Mishra, Institute for Security and Technology

Philip Reiner, Institute for Security and Technology

Confirmed Members: 

Rabia Akhtar, Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR), University of Lahore

Frank O’Donnell, Asia Pacific Leadership Network 

Robert Hamilton, Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College

Peter Hayes, Nautilus Institute 

Luisa Kenausis, Stanley Center for Peace and Security

Feroz Khan, Naval Postgraduate School 

Matt Korda, Federation of American Scientists

Rajeev Krishnamoorthy, Independent Technical Expert

Antoine Levesques, The International Institute for Strategic Studies

Aditi Malhotra, Canadian Global Affairs Institute

Marion Messmer, Chatham House

Michiru Nishida,  Nagasaki University

Sitara Noor, Belfer Center, Harvard University 

Ankit Panda, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Dr. Olamide Samuel, European Leadership Network

Manpreet Sethi, Centre for Airpower Studies

Sahil Shah, Council on Strategic Risks, Institute for Security and Technology

Alice Spilman, British American Security Information Council 

Dmitry Stefanovich, Primakov National Research Institute for World Economy and International Relations

Christian Steins, Institute for Security and Technology 

Sebastian Brixey-Williams, British American Security Information Council (BASIC)

Nicholas Wheeler, University of Birmingham

Tong Zhao, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace 

Daniil Zhukov, King’s College London