Nuclear deterrence and cyber warfare: Coexistence or competition?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Nuclear deterrence and cyber war seem almost antithetical in their respective intellectual pedigrees. Nuclear weapons are unique in their ability to create mass destruction in a short time. Information or “cyber” weapons, at least for the most part, aim at sowing confusion or mass disruption instead of widespread physical destruction. Nevertheless, there are some intersections between cyber and nuclear matters, and these have the potential to become troublesome for the future of nuclear deterrence. For example, cyber attacks might complicate the management of a nuclear crisis. As well, information attacks on command-control and communications systems might lead to a mistaken nuclear launch based on false warnings, to erroneous interpretations of data or to panic on account of feared information blackout. It is not inconceivable that future nuclear strike planning will include a preliminary wave of cyber strikes or at least a more protracted “preparation of the battlefield” by roaming through enemy networks to plant malware or map vulnerabilities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-208
Number of pages16
JournalDefense and Security Analysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 3 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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