HELSINKI — Today, the world’s first blockchain prototype for safeguarding nuclear material was demonstrated in Helsinki. This prototype was created by a partnership between the Stimson Center, Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK), and the University of New South Wales (UNSW).
The prototype, known as “SLAFKA,” tests whether distributed ledger technology (DLT), commonly known as blockchain, has the potential to increase efficiency, trust, and transparency in the management of nuclear safeguards information.
This project is important because nuclear regulatory authorities around the world often use outdated systems to track materials like spent nuclear fuel and account for material transfers between countries. Many of these systems are vulnerable to tampering and some still exist on paper, making data integrity and retention of records a challenge. Long term integrity is a special challenge for spent fuel placed in long term underground storage. SLAFKA aims to solve some of these problems by using blockchain technology to make safeguards data more trustworthy and verifiable.
Following today’s demonstration, the project team will test the prototype to review the technology’s suitability and to investigate its applicability for similar data management related to non-proliferation and disarmament. The lessons learned from testing the prototype will be shared with the broader nuclear community.
- Project page: www.stimson.org/project/slafka/
- Fact Sheet: DLT Prototype for Nuclear Materials Control
- Video: Project lead Cindy Vestergaard explains the idea behind SLAFKA.
Elina Martikka, Head of International Cooperation at STUK said, “in the existing model, nuclear material records are electronic documents that have common problems: version management, data correctness and information security all need special attention. With blockchain technology, authorities can verify that registered data is correct and unchanged. This would also improve the efficiency of the international nuclear material supervision processes.”
Cindy Vestergaard, Director of the Blockchain in Practice program and SLAFKA project lead at the Stimson Center (Full bio) said, “This is an exciting moment in our exploration of DLT to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of nuclear safeguards. With the help of our partners, we have taken a policy paper and turned it into a workable, testable prototype. We hope to continue to learn from it and share our findings with regulatory authorities around the world.”
Dr. Edward Obbard, Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales said “SLAFKA treats reporting differently than current models for safeguards information management. Instead of holders of nuclear material reporting directly to a regulator, they transact digitally between one another while the regulator observes – and verifies – the transactions. As a result, facilities and other holders should feel a greater sense of involvement and participation in the system.”
The Stimson Center’s Blockchain in Practice program developed the concept of SLAFKA, identified international partners, and worked closely with them to develop this prototype. The program is among the first to engage with international nonproliferation and disarmament organizations, national authorities, and private technology companies on the potential application of DLT to strengthen the international security regimes.
The Stimson Center promotes international security, shared prosperity, and justice through applied research and independent analysis, deep engagement, and policy innovation. More at www.Stimson.org.
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