A Cryptographic Escrow for Treaty Declarations and Step-by-Step Verification

Sébastien Philippe, Alexander Glaser, Edward W. Felten, "A Cryptographic Escrow for Treaty Declarations and Step-by-Step Verification," Science & Global Security 27, no. 1 (2019)

The verification of arms-control and disarmament agreements requires states to provide declarations, including information on sensitive military sites and assets. There are important cases, however, in which negotiations of these agreements are impeded because states are reluctant to provide any such data, because of concerns about prematurely handing over militarily significant information. To address this challenge, we present a cryptographic escrow that allows a state to make a complete declaration of sites and assets at the outset and commit to its content, but only reveal the sensitive information therein sequentially. Combined with an inspection regime, our escrow allows for step-by-step verification of the correctness and completeness of the initial declaration so that the information release and inspections keep pace with parallel diplomatic and political processes. We apply this approach to the possible denuclearization of North Korea. Such approach can be applied, however, to any agreement requiring the sharing of sensitive information.

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