The goal of Open Nuclear Network is to reduce the risk that nuclear weapons are used in response to error, uncertainty or misdirection, particularly in the context of escalating conflict, using innovation, inclusion and dialogue supported by open source data.
Today, more than ever before, nuclear weapons are at risk of being used due to human or technical error, uncertainty about adversaries’ capabilities or intentions or intentional misdirection, particularly in the context of escalating conflict. The mission of Open Nuclear Network (ONN) is to reduce the risk of the inadvertent use of nuclear weapons, using innovation, inclusion and dialogue supported by open-source data.
Open Nuclear Network works on nuclear risk reduction in two complementary ways:
- A team of analysts collects data and produces informational briefs, leveraging publicly available data and state-of-the-art technology.
- In tandem, ONN deploys a network of trusted third parties for data-enabled efforts to improve dialogue among world leaders and decision makers and promote nuclear de-escalation.
Nuclear Risk Reduction
Adversarial States involved in “nuclear flashpoint” contexts, i.e. conflicts in which nuclear-armed States are involved, are at risk of runaway escalation that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons, especially where there is a history of mutual distrust. This lack of trust is exacerbated by asymmetric information about capabilities and intentions due to:
- the lack of shareable, timely and reliable information not produced by an intelligence community of one of the parties to the conflict;
- the absence of informed, credible and neutral outside engagement prior to or during a crisis;
- a deficit in positive engagement among adversaries; and
- the latent risk of military escalation, compounded by internal miscalculation or an externally-generated false positive.
As conflict escalates, the problems associated with distrust and limited communications are compounded by the need for decision makers to make difficult choices within ever shorter time periods.
The security of all States can be increased by ensuring that decision makers in countries engaged in such conflicts have access to high quality, shareable open source information that enables them to make the best decisions in the face of conflicts.
ONN as a Solution
ONN offers a mechanism for reducing the risk that nuclear weapons are used in the course of conflict escalation: a transparently non-aligned, data-driven, civilian programme committed to building relationships and sharing information across national and alliance boundaries.
Using a wide range of curated data, ONN analysts produce fact-based analyses in connection with targeted conflict contexts and identify opportunities for constructive engagement. These analyses are delivered to decision makers in relevant countries either directly or through ONN’s strategic network, including the ONN Engagement Network.The Engagement Network is a team of credible and trusted influencers with whom ONN co-creates strategies for engaging decision makers in countries involved in targeted conflicts.
Ultimately, the aim is to give decision makers access to independently generated and unclassified information, which can be used as a common basis for dialogue and conflict de-escalation, thereby reducing the risk of nuclear weapons use in response to error, uncertainty or misdirection.
During the initial stage of operation, ONN is focusing on the Korean Peninsula. Should ONN’s model prove successful, ONN will expand the scope of its activities to other conflict contexts.
Given the mission of ONN, it was decided to establish ONN in Vienna, Austria, the home of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headquarters, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-BanTreaty (CTBT), the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs in Vienna (UNODA) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), as well as of diplomatic missions whose focus is on nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and conflict resolution.
How is ONN funded?
ONN is a programme of the One Earth Future Foundation (OEF), a private non-profit foundation funded by Canadian entrepreneurial philanthropists Marcel Arsenault and Cynda Collins Arsenault. OEF is committed to peace through governance, fostering sustainable peace by building effective networks. Its mission is to catalyse systems that eliminate root causes of war. OEF has been granted ECOSOC Special Consultative Status with the United Nations.
OEF is an operating foundation, not a granting foundation. It is structured as an incubator of diverse semi-autonomous programmes, each of which works on sustainable solutions to a specific problem, whether it is reintegrating FARC rebels in Colombia, connecting Somali businesses to lenders abroad or reducing the risk of nuclear weapons use.