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Blockchain for Nuclear Security? One Harvard Researcher Thinks So

Aaron Arnold—a Harvard College researcher—just wrote an op-ed in “The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists” arguing that blockchain ledgers can and should be used to prevent illicit trade of nuclear materials across global markets.

Currently, one of the main issues in international nuclear non-proliferation efforts is the patchwork nature of supply-side sanctions. In other words, global enforcement mechanisms are loose enough that nations like North Korea can skirt sanctions and attain nuclear supplies.

Arnold’s argument, then, is that blockchain ledgers and associated smart contracts can be used to audit, and make tamper-proof, international logistical orders pertaining to sensitive nuclear resources.

“Blockchain technologies have the potential to address some of these falsification issues,” Arnold wrote. “In a given blockchain network of approved parties, for example, smart contracts can promote transparency and prevent export fraud.”

He added, “For example, in a blockchain system that includes buyers, sellers, shippers, and insurers, if a good is prohibited from re-export to a third-country, the shipper would not be able to receive payment if any leg of the transaction was altered.”

Accordingly, Arnold’s ideal future is one in which supply-side export controls are entirely guaranteed on blockchain ledgers. This innovation would, again, prevent states like North Korea from untraceably attaining nuclear supplies with no international repercussions.

While this news has no direct implications for current cryptocurrency prices, it’s a development that shows just how ubiquitous cryptocurrencies’ associated blockchain tech can become across countless industries in the years ahead.

Indeed, since blockchain tech undergirds all cryptocurrencies, the growing amount of use-cases for blockchain ledgers is certainly not bad news for Bitcoin’s and Ethereum’s prices over the long-term.




TLDR: A Harvard researcher believes it’s time to move nuclear security measures onto the blockchain, so nuclear materials can’t continue falling into the hands of rogue states like North Korea. 

William M. Peaster is a cryptocurrency journalist and copy-editor based out of El Paso, Texas. He's an avid fan of Ethereum, ERC-20 tokens, and smart contracts in general.

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