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Nuclear Failsafe Review

At a time of heightened great power competition, increasing threats of nuclear weapons use, and rapid developments in emerging disruptive technologies, the risk of inadvertent use of nuclear weapons is high. Unilateral failsafe reviews are the single best prospect for nuclear risk reduction today.  


The ELN is conducting a project aimed at informing governments, officials and decision-makers in London, Paris, Moscow and NATO  about the benefits of failsafe reviews of countries’ nuclear weapons, nuclear command, control and communications systems. It is also aimed at educating them on why failsafe reviews are a suitable tool to enhance the P5’s risk reduction agenda. 

Through this project, we seek to:   

  • Raise awareness of the U.S. failsafe review and its contribution to addressing new nuclear dangers and risks that are common to all nuclear-armed states, including from cyber and AI.  
  • Stimulate questions and dialogue in diplomatic, military, and expert channels relating to failsafe in the UK, France, NATO, and Russia.
  • Generate support for failsafe among European nuclear-armed states and within NATO. 


Rapid developments in emerging disruptive technologies such as cyber warfare, artificial intelligence and quantum technologies increase the catastrophic risk of inadvertent use of nuclear weapons. There is a growing need to strengthen safeguards against these risks interfering with nuclear weapons systems. 

Unilateral failsafe reviews by nuclear weapon states are a key avenue for nuclear risk reduction at a time when many potential multilateral measures are blocked or barely able to progress. See our work on Protecting the Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

For the first time in thirty years, the United States has committed to conducting an independent failsafe review of its own nuclear weapons command, control and communications systems, expected to be published in the summer of 2024. This timely and welcomed development offers the UK, France, NATO, and Russia the opportunity to review risk-reduction measures and promote global security.  


Taking full advantage of the ELN’s intergenerational networks, which offer knowledge and expertise, unique convening capabilities, and unparalleled access to expert communities, we will conduct outreach to educate and socialize policy practitioners and experts in the UK, France, NATO, and Russia on the importance of failsafe and to campaign for these nuclear-weapons states and NATO to conduct failsafe reviews.  

This project will be structured into 3 phases, starting with an investigative phase in the spring of 2024, leading to in-person events and interviews with experts and officials as well as reports, op-eds and virtual briefings. We also aim for a public event where we present and discuss the findings in early 2025.  

Throughout this campaign, we will work closely with our partners at the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network (APLN), who will be conducting a parallel exercise, with the Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group (EASLG) to maximise synergies.   

Project Publications

Who's involved?