Improving Nuclear Hotlines 

Relevance and Use Cases

Should multilateral crisis communications systems be used before, during, or after a crisis? How would nuclear-armed states benefit most from such a system? What challenges stand between theory and implementation?  

The Institute for Security and Technology’s CATALINK initiative proposes an additive multilateral communications system as a solution to address the urgent lack of  modern multilateral crisis communication channels among nuclear-armed state leaders. CATALINK’s Crisis Communications Resilience Working Group, established in October 2023, is a network of experts and practitioners who work collaboratively to augment  nuclear risk reduction efforts and promote the idea and implementation of effective, secure, multilateral crisis communications among nuclear-armed states. 

“Improving Nuclear Hotlines: Relevance and Use-Cases” comprises of a series of short essays and interviews authored by working group members, and edited by IST’s Sylvia Mishra and Christian Steins. These briefs assess the status of crisis communications systems in specific nuclear-armed states, present potential use case scenarios of multilateral crisis communications, and examine the current operating environments and political and technical barriers to cooperation in each state of focus.

Improving Nuclear Hotlines: Relevance and Use-Cases 

Resilient Nuclear Crisis Communications: India’s Experience

Dr. Manpreet Sethi | June 2024

Dr. Manpreet Sethi (Center for Air Power Studies) examines the outcome of historical uses of both military and civil hotlines among India and Pakistan. 

Pakistan: Mitigating Nuclear Risks Through Crisis Communications

Dr. Rabia Akhtar | June 2024

Dr. Rabia Akhtar (University of Lahore) unpacks the India-Pakistan dyad from the perspective of Pakistan. 

Use-Cases of Resilient Nuclear Crisis Communications: A View from Russia

Dmitry Stefanovich | June 2024

Dmitry Stefanovich (Center for International Security at the Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations of the Russian Academy of Sciences) delves into resilient nuclear crisis communications from the Russian perspective. 

China: Nuclear Crisis Communications and Risk Reduction

Dr. Tong Zhao, interviewed by Sylvia Mishra | June 2024

IST’s Sylvia Mishra interviews Dr. Tong Zhao (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace) for his take on crisis communications in the People’s Republic of China.

The Phone-a-Friend Option: Use Cases for a US-UK-French Crisis Communication Channel

Daniil Zhukov | June 2024

Daniil Zhukov (King’s College, London) makes the case for a multilateral crisis communication channel between the heads of state of the United States, the United Kingdom, and France. 

Improving Nuclear Hotlines: Experts Speak

In June, IST released a series of reports on nuclear crisis communications titled Improving Nuclear Hotlines: Relevance and Use Cases. These reports sought to answer the question: when or at what point in time, before or during a crisis, would states want to use a multilateral or bilateral crisis communications mechanism? On Thursday, July 18, at 7 am PT / 10 am ET, join report authors Dr. Manpreet Sethi, Dr. Rabia AkhtarDmitry Stefanovich, and Daniil Zhukov for a virtual conversation moderated by IST’s Deputy Director of Nuclear Policy Sylvia Mishra, with an introduction by Technology Policy Analyst Christian SteinsRegister now.

The Institute for Security and Technology’s (IST) CATALINK project proposes an additive multilateral network solution to combat the urgent need to establish modern multilateral crisis communication channels among nuclear-armed state leaders.

Over the last five years, IST has gathered scholars, practitioners, and technologists to devise a global nuclear crisis communication network design—an internationally driven, secure, resilient, multilateral communications solution. This design effort provides the communications benefits of traditional nuclear hotlines while solving the reliability and authenticity issues that undermine traditional systems.

In this time, 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.