Last Chance: Communicating at the Nuclear Brink

Nuclear war threatens the existence of humanity

If and when NC3 systems fail under stress, leaders must be able to communicate, and today’s NC3 systems rely on both legacy and modern technologies that are increasingly vulnerable to rapidly emerging, disruptive capabilities. As part of the Institute for Security and Technology’s ongoing initiative to identify the impact of emerging technologies on Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) and Global Stability, we hosted cross-sector discussions at a two-day gathering at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) in October 2019. These discussions identified the critical necessity for a secure, global, crisis communications ability.

THE RESULT?


CATALINK: an additive solution to the likely communication breakdowns that will characterize crises in the digital age.

Holding the potential to avert catastrophes amidst rising tensions between adversaries, CATALINK is an additive solution to the likely communication breakdowns that will characterize crises in the digital age. The name derives from “cataclysm” and “link,” based on the real possibility that leaders of nuclear-armed states might be cut off from traditional communications lines when they matter most. CATALINK encompasses an open-source, global community. The CATALINK system would build on the “hotline” model of previous generations, and rely on internationally driven open-source technologies to maximize user integrity and trust. It would exploit redundant transmission capabilities to ensure that multiple parties could connect under extreme conditions, including loss of power and absence of cellular and internet connectivity. The endpoint devices would be designed for durability, availability, and ease of use, enabling parties to immediately connect with confidence amid crises.

CATALINK is an internationally-minded solution that has the potential to avert catastrophes amidst rising tensions between adversaries.To learn more about our initiative to build CATALINK or if you are interested in joining the effort, please visit our CATALINK project page here within our Tech Works pillar.

The October 2019 workshop that this project stems from was conducted under the operating protocols of the Chatham House rule, and the conveners of the workshop were The Institute for Security and Technology (formerly Tech4GS), The Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability and The Stanley Center for Peace and Security, and made possible by generous support from the MacArthur Foundation. In partnership with Nautilus, we are releasing a series of reports and the second season of The Fourth Leg based on the discussions held during the workshop. Take a look, and get in touch with your questions, comments, and ideas – catalink@tech4gs.org

Below you will find reports and accompanying podcasts authored by industry, government, and academia experts that detail the background and reasoning behind CATALINK.

From our Library

Reports

Hotline Between Two Koreas: Status, Limitations and Future Tasks

Dr. Chung-in Moon

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Podcasts

Learning from Success: Inter-Korean Crisis Communications

Philip Reiner with Dr. Moon Chung-in

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Reports

Building Communications Norms Across Nuclear C2

Dr. Salma Shaheen

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Reports

Nuclear Hotlines: Origins, Evolution, Applications

Steven E. Miller

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Podcasts

Communication Over Escalation

Philip Reiner and Peter Hayes with Steven E. Miller and Ben Loehrke

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Reports

Formals Methods for NC3 Systems

Adam Wick

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Podcasts

Formally Verified

Philip Reiner and Peter Hayes with Adam Wick

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Reports

The AES Project: Any Lessons for NC3?

Thomas Berson

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Podcasts

Mathematics of Trust and Betrayal

Philip Reiner with Dr. Tom Berson

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Reports

Hardware that is Less Trusted: Open Source Down to the Silicon

Ron Minnich

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Podcasts

Assume Vulnerability

Philip Reiner with Ron Minnich

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Reports

Communication Disruption Attacks on NC3

Paul Bracken

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Podcasts

Targeting Communications and Escalation

Peter Reiner, Alexa Wehsener and Leah Walker with Paul Bracken

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Reports

Last Chance: Communicating at the Nuclear Brink Scenarios Workshop Synthesis Report

Institute for Security and Technology, Nautilus Institute

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Podcasts

Wake-Up Call

Philip Reiner and Peter Hayes with Eric Grosse, Rear Admiral John Gower and Subrata Banik

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