Memia Podcast #2: Lyndon Burford on why nuclear disarmament is more important than ever before
How climate change is increasing the risk of catastrophic nuclear conflict...and how blockchain technology could be used to verify and incentivise nuclear non-proliferation
I’m thrilled to share this recent podcast conversation with UK-based New Zealander Lyndon Burford, a global expert on nuclear deterrence and disarmament.
As Lyndon and I discuss in depth during the the podcast, the whole question of imminent nuclear war never really went away - despite the end of the Cold War. Now, with 9 nuclear-armed states, more advanced missile technologies, climate change creating global geostrategic tensions and increased bellicosity between the US and China, India and Pakistan, arguably the risk of a catastrophic nuclear war - and ensuing nuclear winter - is the highest it has ever been.
And yet hardly anyone is talking about it…
This is a frank, eye-opening, in-depth discussion of the current global nuclear risks - raising plenty of significant implications for Aotearoa’s international foreign policy role as one of the few states in the world where nuclear weapons are outlawed.
Please feel free to get in touch with your thoughts and/or add your comments below to develop the debate further.
Lyndon Burford is a Visiting Research Associate at the King's College London Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS), where he studies the politics, technologies and theories of nuclear disarmament, deterrence, arms control and risk. Lyndon is also a blockchain adviser on the New Technologies for Peace working group, part of the Vatican’s COVID-19 Commission.
Lyndon’s PhD thesis looked at the relationship between national identity and nuclear disarmament policy in Canada and New Zealand, and he was an advisor to the New Zealand delegation at the 2015 Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.
Lyndon has a PhD in International Relations from the University of Auckland, an MA in Political Science from the University of Canterbury (NZ), and a BA in Russian Studies from the University of Otago. In addition to blockchain and nuclear policy work, Lyndon is passionate about film, having studied film history and theory. He has worked on studio films like the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the BBC’s Lost World and has co-produced several short documentaries and educational videos.
Mentioned during the podcast:
Lyndon Burford on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lyndon-burford/
Lyndon Burford, Could Blockchain Technology Help Advance Nuclear Disarmament? Medium / International Affairs blog, February 19, 2021.
Lyndon Burford, “The Trust Machine: Blockchain in Nuclear Disarmament and Arms Control Verification,” London, UK: Centre for Science & Security Studies, King’s College London, October 2020.
Open letter to the Prime Minister: Threats to New Zealand’s security, sovereignty and national interests due to inadequate regulatory oversight of space-launch activities from New Zealand, March 5, 2021.
Ollie Neas, “NZ Rocket Launches May Breach Nuclear-Free Laws, Say Peace Groups,” The Spinoff, March 9, 2021.
How a small nuclear war would transform the entire planet, Nature, 2020
Vasili Arkhipov - Wikipedia
Revealed: Jacinda Ardern warned twice Rocket Lab's launches could break Nuclear Free Law - Newshub
The Economist: The People's Panopticon
Neflix movie: Coded Bias
1:00 Why is nuclear disarmament important in 2021?
1:10 If you care about climate change and ecological collapse, you should care about nuclear weapons
2:40 IPCC climate modeling applied to nuclear war: 1-2 billion deaths?
4:40 Climate change actually making nuclear war more likely
06:08 History of nuclear conflict - collapse of Soviet Union and end of the Cold War
08:00 The myth of nuclear deterrence in the modern multipolar world
10:56 AI and autonomous weapons
14:00 Cuban missile crisis / Vasili Arkhipov
17:25 Impact of academic research of nuclear archives
18:24 Current state of play - 9 nuclear armed states
19:40 Nuclear arms and the question of money
21:00 The permanent war economy
22:50 A new multipolar nuclear arms race
24:35 Where does Aotearoa stand in all of this? Is Rocketlab breaking New Zealand's Nuclear Free Zone Act?
31:50 Collapse of the Soviet Union - could it happen again today with US or China?
33:04 Non-state actors
33:50 New technology: laser enrichment
36:00 Using blockchain for nuclear disarmament
37:00 All technology is political - never neutral
49:10 "IoVT - Internet of Verification Things"
51:50 "The people's panopticon - Booming OSINT industry - but needs to pointed at all the countries around the world
52:30 "Verification Coin"
55:00 Finland nuclear accounting and control system
55:45 Balaji Srinivasan concept of a "network state" as pro-disarmament actors?
57:40 Coded bias
1:00:00 Vatican Covid commission - technologies for peace working group
You can listen to MP3 audio above or watch the recording on Youtube: