Blockchain in Practice: Applications of Distributed Ledger Technology For International Security CINDY VESTERGAARD, THE STIMSON CENTER

The network ability of Distibuted Ledger Technology (DLT), such as blockchain, to manage and self-audit large volumes of data in a secure and transparent manner could have far-reaching value on the ways in which sensitive information is collected, processed, and analyzed. DLT is rapidly gaining legitimacy as the next-wave technological solution to verify data and build trust among parties directly, eliminating the need for third-party intermediaries.

With the growing list of potential use-cases for blockchain – from reducing poverty to reshaping global transactions – the Stimson Center's Nuclear Security and Nuclear Safeguard's teams have set its critical eye on using this technology and applying it to some of the most complex global security issues today.

The Investigation

The programs have started investigating the specific applications and implications of blockchain on various nuclear security challenges at the international, national, and operational (industry) level, considering the areas (positive and negative) where blockchain could be applied to enhancing the security of nuclear material, technologies, and facilities.

Nuclear Safeguards

The Stimson Center's Nuclear Safeguards program has determined how distributed ledger technology can be applied to the management of safeguards information internationally, regionally, and bilaterally by understanding the safeguards "ecosystem", or how data is inputted, processed, and accessed.

Transfers of Goods

The program is also exploring the possible implications for DLT on international transfers of sensitive goods and technologies, and how it can help facilitate effective export controls, given the potential adoption of blockchain technologies by both private and public sectors...

Chemical Substances

and will explore how DLT can be used as a technological platform to better track supply and distribution of chemical substances, such as synthetic opioids due to the growing concern that synthetic opiods are ubiquitous and potent enough to be deployed as “kitchen sink” chemical weapons, which are very difficult to monitor by international organizations due to their dual-use application across many industrial sectors.

The research has presented a guide for policy practitioners on how to start thinking about blockchain as a new tool to streamline and improve non-proliferation and international security.


The project is pursuing public-private partnerships and funding opportunities.

Contact: Cindy Vestergaard, Director: cvestergaard@stimson.org.

The project spearheaded by Cindy Vestergaard, Director of the Nuclear Safeguards program, and Lovely Umayam, Fellow in the Nuclear Security program.


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