Nuclear Issues

1114 Items

President Trump signs an Executive Order in Bedminster, New Jersey, entitled “Reimposing Certain Sanctions with Respect to Iran.”

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

Analysis & Opinions - Responsible Statecraft

The JCPOA at 5: How the U.S. squandered an unprecedented diplomatic opening with Iran

| July 19, 2020

Why are governments willing to invest more time in sanctions and war than they do in diplomacy? I pondered this question as the five-year anniversary of the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran nuclear deal, passed last week. What would relations between the United States and Iran look like had diplomacy been given its due, and the Iran deal honoured for longer?   

This photo released Thursday, July 2, 2020, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran shows a building after it was damaged by a fire at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, some 200 miles (322 kilometers) south of Tehran. 

Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Explosion at Natanz: Why Sabotaging Iran’s Nuclear Program Could Backfire

| July 15, 2020

An explosion and fire at a workshop at Iran’s Natanz nuclear facility on July 2, which destroyed the better part of an entire building, was followed by a flurry of speculation about the cause. Perhaps a domestic dissident group had planted a bomb, a foreign government had conducted a cyberattack, or an underground gas pipeline simply exploded by accident. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization announced on July 5 that it had determined the cause, but was withholding that information because of “security considerations.” Still, there is mounting circumstantial evidence that Israel and the United States were involved in what was a deliberate act of sabotage.

nuclear power plant

Wikimedia CC/Korea Yonggwang NPP

Journal Article - Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament

The Nuclear Fuel Cycle and the Proliferation ‘Danger Zone’

| May 27, 2020

Horizontal nuclear proliferation presents what is sometimes referred to as the "Nth country problem," or identifying which state could be next to acquire nuclear weapons. Nuclear fuel cycle technologies can contribute to both nuclear power generation and weapons development. Consequently, observers often view civilian nuclear programs with suspicion even as research on nuclear latency and the technological inputs of proliferation has added nuance to these discussions. To contribute to this debate, the author puts forth a simple theoretical proposition: En route to developing a civilian nuclear infrastructure and mastering the fuel cycle, states pass through a proliferation "danger zone."

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Postponement of the NPT Review Conference. Antagonisms, Conflicts and Nuclear Risks after the Pandemic

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has published a document from the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs concerning nuclear problems and tensions in the time of COVID-19. The document has been co-signed by a large number of Pugwash colleagues and personalities.

teaser image

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Building Sustainable Relationships, Energy, and Security in the Middle East

Spring 2020

While the Middle East Initiative is focused entirely on the MENA region, several other Center programs are also working on issues related to the Middle East, including Future of Diplomacy, Geopolitics of Energy, and the Managing the Atom.

A screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump, left, and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara).

AP Photo/Koji Sasahara

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

U.S. and Iranian Choices Are Getting Dangerously Narrow

| Jan. 08, 2020

The smoke is still clearing from the drone strike that killed Quds Force commander Qassem Suleimani, and from the Iranian retaliation against U.S. bases in Iraq, and any conclusions have to be tentative ones. But the history of U.S.-Iran conflict points to a narrow, and possibly dangerous, set of choices ahead.

Security Line at an Airport

ahlynk/Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

The Recurring Folly of ‘If You See Something, Say Something’

| Jan. 06, 2020

Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers on Friday that their city might be subject to retaliatory attacks from Iran. “I’m not saying this to be alarmist,” the mayor said as he and his underlings ticked off—in a slightly alarming fashion—a series of defensive measures the city might take after the American air strike that killed the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Though the New York Police Department had received no specific, credible threats, de Blasio and other officials warned of more bag checks at the subways and increased police presence throughout the city. The city is no stranger to terrorism and would maintain a better-safe-than-sorry posture. “If you see something, say something,” de Blasio said.

Recent talk of homeland threats, and the just-in-case operational response, are based on nothing more than the rather uncontroversial assessment that Iran will feel obliged to do something to respond to the killing of Soleimani. The homeland-security practices to which Americans became accustomed after 9/11 long ago became a bad habit—one more divorced than ever before from the kinds of threats the United States might actually face. Intended to calm the public, gestures like the ones de Blasio described presume that Iran would be both reckless and capable enough to target an American city—and that greater vigilance alone would prepare us for that possibility. Now nearly two decades old, the post-9/11 style of security theater also risks masking the real vulnerabilities in the American homeland against a potential Iranian action.