Cindy Vestergaard

Senior Fellow and Director

Blockchain in Practice, Nuclear Safeguards

Cindy Vestergaard is a Senior Fellow and Director with the Nuclear Safeguards and Blockchain in Practice Programs. Her research on nuclear safeguards focuses on the impact of evolving international obligations and emerging technology on states and facility operators while her research on blockchain technology considers and tests the potential for the tech to increase transparency, security and reporting in nuclear safeguards, nuclear security, the trade of dual-use chemicals and export controls.

Before joining Stimson in 2016, Vestergaard was previously a senior researcher at the Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Prior to DIIS, she worked on non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament policy and programming at Canada’s foreign ministry. Positions among others included Senior Policy Advisor, Global Partnership Program; Senior Policy Advisor, Foreign Intelligence Division; and Political Officer at Canada’s Mission to Hungary and Slovenia.

Vestergaard has been an external lecturer at the University of Copenhagen, a regular contributor to media outlets and presents nationally and internationally on weapons of mass destruction, proliferation and disarmament issues. She has a B.A. in International Relations from the University of British Columbia, M.A. in International Relations and European Studies from Central European University (Budapest, Hungary) and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Copenhagen.

To learn more about how Vestergaard got her start in nuclear safeguards, read her “My Story.”


DLT for Nuclear Material Accountancy and Control

Examining the resiliency of the verification system that underpins the nuclear non-proliferation regime, specifically how emerging facilities, coupled with emerging technologies, challenge and/or enhance the management of safeguards.

The international obligations that accompany the global production, trade, and protection of uranium

Applied research on distributed ledger technology to improve trust, security, and transparency

Research & Writing
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Blockchain for International Security

DLT applications can increase assurances of compliance with nonproliferation and disarmament treaties

Field Note
Visiting Sweden’s Future Spent Nuclear Fuel Repository

Forsmark is home to a number of nuclear facilities. Forsmark is home to three of Sweden’s six operational power reactors and a repository for short-lived radioactive waste and is the location where the deep geological repository (DGR) for spent nuclear…

Field Note
A Visit to the Site of France’s Future High-Level Waste Repository

Stimson experts share their field notes from a virtual visit to the site of France’s future high-level radioactive waste repository

Project Note
What is Blockchain in Practice?

The Blockchain in Practice program tests the potential for Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) platforms to increase transparency and security and address nonproliferation challenges


Testing the potential for nuclear safeguards to be powered by blockchain

Project Note
SLAFKA Tutorial: The World’s First Blockchain Prototype for Safeguarding Nuclear Material

Prototype for safeguarding nuclear material is first step in demonstrating potential for DLT to manage data, information sharing and access controls for nuclear material accounting

Complementing the Padlock

Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT; commonly known as blockchain) could enhance best practices for nuclear security, adding a layer of protection

Policy Paper
Complementing the Padlock: The prospect of blockchain for strengthening nuclear security

Distributed ledger technology has the potential to complement nuclear security practices and enhance the international security regime

International Atomic Energy Agency Actively Responding to COVID-19

The IAEA is actively ensuring safeguards inspections continue while also providing diagnostics kits, training and equipment to countries requesting assistance.

Working Paper
Back-end to the Future: Some Safeguards Considerations for Multinational Geological Repositories

Considering the implications for multinational geological repositories and the necessity for a collaborative approach

Evaluating Member State Acceptance of Blockchain for Nuclear Safeguards

The Stanley Center for Peace and Security, the Stimson Center, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) coorganized a two-day workshop focusing on understanding those nontechnical factors that may hinder–or motivate–stakeholder acceptance of DL…

Project Note
Safeguards Program Attends SLAFKA project kick-off

From September 10 – 12, the Stimson Center and the University of New South Wales (UNSW) visited Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) in Helsinki for our kick-off meeting to the “SLAFKA” project.

Multilateral Nuclear Information-Sharing: The View from South Asia

Policy debates around participation in multilateral information-sharing mechanisms highlight fundamental tensions between safety, national security, and international security. Assuring other states that fissile materials are securely managed against t…

Issue Brief
Better Than a Floppy: The Potential of Distributed Ledger Technology for Nuclear Safeguards Information Management

This policy analysis brief provides an overview of DLT and explores its utility for safeguards information management. It considers the landscape of factors determining how safeguards data is inputted, processed, and accessed. The findings and recommendations suggest where adding a DLT layer could be applied to provide greater efficiency, data reconciliation, accuracy, and trust in information management at the international, national, and facility levels.

Blockchain in Practice

Distributed ledger technology (DLT), such as Blockchain, is being characterized as revolutionary in its potential to alter the world economy. Stimson is identifying applications and implications of DLT for non-proliferation and inte…

Capturing the Starting Point

The point at which nuclear material becomes subject to comprehensive safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is commonly known as the “starting point of safeguards.” Paragraphs falling under this heading have remained u…

A Twinned Approach

By Cindy Vestergaard Abstract Over the past decade, Canada has been implementing an ‘Adaptive Phased Management’ approach to handling its radioactive waste, involving interim storage at reactor sites and eventual final disposal in a centralised, deep g…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestegaard Quoted on Nerve Agent Attack

  Read the full article here

Are Chemical Assassinations in Vogue?

Are Chemical Assassinations in Vogue? On 4 March 2018, Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were taken to hospital after they were found slumped and unresponsive on a bench in Salisbury, England. Three days later, Scotland Yard confirmed the event was…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaard Interviewed on Nerve Agent Attack

Listen to the interview here.

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaard Quoted on Cryptocurrency and Sanctions

Read article here.

Charting Nuclear Security Progress in South Asia

The nuclear security summits have come and gone, but the challenge of nuclear terrorism is still with us. As long as weapons-usable fissile material (highly enriched uranium, or HEU, and separated plutonium) is used in the civil sector, there is a risk…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaard quoted on affect Nuclear War will have on Australia

The threat of nuclear activity is more real than it has been for decades. Recently, Trump addressed the United Nations, where he threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, which he described as being run by “Rocket Man” – yes, this is real life…

The Fact of the Matter: Al-Shabaab is Not Mining Uranium in Somalia to Sell to Iran

Editor’s Note: The Fact of the Matter is an ongoing series that highlights — and corrects — common misconceptions in conventional wisdom. Contributions to this series are from experts at the nonpartisan Stimson Center. By Cindy Vestergaard Th…

Issue Brief
Australian Uranium is Heading to India

India’s economy is the seventh largest in the world, predicted to rank third by 2030 and second by 2050. Energy is central to its rising potential, especially considering Prime Minister Modi’s promise to connect all citizens to a re…

From Norm to Enforcement: The Nuclear Ban Needs a Boost

By Cindy Vestergaard On July 7, 2017, almost 71 years since the first resolution adopted by the U.N. General Assembly forwarded the objective of “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons,” a draft treaty banning nuclear weapons has bee…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaard’s Op-Ed in The Interpreter on North Korea’s Chemical Weapons

Since Malaysian authorities identified the nerve agent VX as the cause of death in the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean’s Kim Jong Un, concerns have been raised over the state’s chemical weapons capabilities. Earlier this…

Chemical Assassination: The Role of International Organizations

By Cindy Vestergaard On 13 February, Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader died en route to the hospital after complaining that two women had rubbed chemicals into his face at Kuala Lumpur airport. Ten days later, the Malaysian police…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaard quoted in BBC on VX Nerve Agent

Malaysia has said the substance used to kill Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korea’s leader, was VX, a hugely potent nerve agent which is banned internationally. -snip- Cindy Vestergaard, chemical weapons expert and senior associate at the Stim…

The Trump Administration and Nuclear Weapons: A Legacy to be Defined

Editor’s note: This analysis is part of Presidential Inbox 2017 — an ongoing Stimson Center series examining the major global challenges and opportunities the Trump administration faces during its first 100 days in office. Click here to read the full s…

Cindy Vestergaard Analysis: Progress Made as Russia Appears Poised to Eliminate Chemical Weapons Stockpile

In light of reports that a top Russian military official declared that Russia’s remaining chemical weapons will be eliminated by December 2017, Cindy Vestergaard, Senior Associate with the Nuclear Safeguards program at the nonpartisan Stimson Center re…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaard cited in KNR on Greenland and uranium conventions

It’s good for the commonwealth to Greenland accede to the international conventions. It says senior Cindy Vestergaard from the Danish Institute for International Studies. – It is a step forward for Greenland that they are now in the same conventio…

Issue Brief
Investigating the use of Chemical Weapons in Syria

Investigating the use of chemical weapons The first inquiry into the use of chemical weapons (CW) in Syria was the United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism (SGM) for Investigation of Alleged use of Chemical and Biological Weapons. Adopted by the UN…

Cindy Vestergaard Joins Stimson as Senior Associate

The Stimson Center announced today that Cindy Vestergaard has been appointed as a Senior Associate for the Managing Across Boundaries initiative. Vestergaard will lead the Center’s new Nuclear Safeguards program that examines the impact of evolving int…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaard article in CBW Magazine on Chemical Weapons in Syria

The first inquiry into the use of chemical weapons (CW) in Syria was the United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism (SGM) for Investigation of Alleged use of Chemical and Biological Weapons. Adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1987, and endorsed by…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaad quoted in Politiken on nuclear power

Det var sloganet for en af de mest succesrige danske græsrodsbevægelser op gennem 1970’erne og 1980’erne. Siden da har det været småt med de atomkritiske demonstrationer i gaderne. Næsten alle Folketingets partier er stærke modstandere af kernekraft, o…

Issue Brief
Nuclear Security Stretches Across the Entire Fuel Cycle

Three world summits on nuclear security have focused attention on securing the world’s most dangerous nuclear material, particularly materials considered ‘direct-use’ for nuclear weapons. In lead up to the fourth and last summit, source materials such…

Governing Uranium Down Under

Australia has been a long-time key player in the global uranium market. Its uranium policy and regulatory structure has been surprisingly resilient since 1977 – a system that has endowed it with an international reputation for having created a uranium…

Safeguarding the Front-end of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle

In 1945, scientists involved in the development of the world’s first nuclear weapon argued in the so-called ‘Franck Report’ that if there was unlimited trade and employment of nuclear power, the fate of every pound of uranium should be recorded. Histor…

Governing Uranium in Canada: the world’s largest all-time uranium producer

Canada has been a long-time key producer and global supplier of uranium. It has produced more uranium than any other country, close to 500,000 tU since 1942. It also hosts the world’s largest operating mine (in terms of annual production), mill and ref…

Stimson in the News
Cindy Vestergaard interviewed in the Tehran Times on the NPT Additional Protocol

Cindy Vestergaard, a senior researcher at Danish Institute for International Studies and a nonresident fellow at the Stimson Centre, says the Additional Protocol to the NPT “does not mean that the IAEA can access military sites that are unrelated to nu…

Cindy Vestergaard Joins Stimson as Nonresident Fellow

The Stimson Center announced today that Cindy Vestergaard has been appointed as a Nonresident Fellow for the Managing Across Boundaries initiative. “Cindy is an emerging rock star in the nonproliferation industry,” said Stimson Vice President and Manag…

Moving the starting point of nuclear safeguards

Gaps in controls in the production and trade of natural uranium, coupled with persistent proliferation threats from state and non-state actors, increase concerns over the diversion of source materials, i.e. the introduction of undeclared feed for conve…

Governing Uranium Globally

The Governing Uranium project is a global research effort studying the implications of a changing uranium market, specifically the production, processing and transport of uranium ore concentrates (UOC), commonly referred to as ‘yellowcake’. I…

The use of chlorine gas in Syria is testing chemical diplomacy

By Cindy Vestergaard:  The first report on the UN’s investigation into use of chemical weapons (CW) in Syria issued on 16 September 2013 concluded that chemical weapons, specifically the nerve agent sarin, had been used – marking the end of what h…

Issue Brief
Greenland, Denmark and the pathway to uranium supplier status

On 24 October 2013, the Greenland parliament, Inatsisartut, lifted a decades-long moratorium on mining radioactive elements, paving the way for the country – and the Kingdom of Denmark – to eventually become the newest Western (and Arctic) supplier of…

Issue Brief
A Chemical Weapons–Free Middle East

This was originally published by Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 21, 2013 Click here to read the report.

Issue Brief
The future of the CWC in the postdestruction phase

This was originally published by EU-ISS Report Series, March 2013

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