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Cyber warfare and nuclear weapons: Game-changing consequences?

12 Dec 2016 - 16:46
Source: Kelly Michals/flickr

Most nuclear weapons systems were designed decades ago, when manipulations of computer networks, or cyber attacks, were an almost nonexistent threat. Nowadays, cyber threats are  everywhere, and one may expect that they have consequences for the stability of nuclear weapons systems as well. Considering the many unknowns of the still evolving issue of cyber threats, it is hard to measure how serious the risks are, but it cannot be excluded that, over the long term, they may have “game-changing” effects on the perceived value of nuclear weapons.

This publication by Sico van der Meer briefly discusses two potential consequences of this phenomenon: cyber operations targeting nuclear weapons systems, and cyber operations replacing nuclear weapons. In conclusion, some potential policy options to deal with these consequences are presented.

The complete report can be downloaded here.