Nuclear Issues

19 Items

The nuclear archive warehouse outside Tehran (Satellite image via Google).

Satellite image via Google

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

The Iran Nuclear Archive: Impressions and Implications

In mid-January, a team of scholars from the Belfer Center’s Intelligence and Managing the Atom Projects traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to examine samples of, and receive briefings on, an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The large cache includes some 55,000 pages of documents and a further 55,000 files on CDs that included photos and videos. A clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited the materials out of Iran in early 2018.

The documents that the Belfer group were shown confirm that senior Iranian officials had decided in the late 1990s to actually manufacture nuclear weapons and carry out an underground nuclear test; that Iran’s program to do so made more technical progress than had previously been understood; and that Iran had help from quite a number of foreign scientists, and access to several foreign nuclear weapon designs. The archive also leaves open a wide range of questions, including what plan, if any, Iran has had with respect to nuclear weapons in the nearly 16 years since Iran’s government ordered a halt to most of the program in late 2003. 

This brief report summarizes the group’s conclusions about what the archive reveals about Iran’s program and questions that remain open.

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

Sanctions Against Iran: A Guide to Targets, Terms, and Timetables

| June 2015

To assist Members of Congress and observers in analyzing these issues and judging a potential comprehensive agreement, the Belfer Center prepared this brief to outline the key facets of sanctions against Iran. Written as an addendum to our April policy brief, ‘Decoding the Iran Nuclear Deal,’ this report is driven by the policy debate’s leading questions.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Fresh Ideas for the Future: Symposium on the NPT

| April 26, 2015

The abstracts in this booklet summarise the research presented at an academic symposium convened on the sidelines of the 2015 NPT Review Conference. As we write this, journalists and seasoned experts in the nuclear policy field have been speculating about the particularly difficult challenges facing the Review Conference this year. To address those challenges, we would urge all concerned to consider the ideas and analyses presented at this symposium. Experts would be hard-pressed to find a better collection of fresh ideas and approaches for assessing and strengthening the NPT.

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

Decoding the Iran Nuclear Deal

| April 2015

On April 2, 2015, the E.U. (speaking on behalf of the P5+1 countries) and Iran announced agreement on “key parameters” for a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. The E.U.-Iran Joint Statement is buttressed by unilateral facts sheets issued by the U.S. and Iran, which provide further details of the framework accord. Negotiators now turn to translating this framework accord into a final comprehensive agreement by June 30, 2015. Members of Congress and their staffs, as well as informed citizens, are now focusing on the Iranian challenge and assessing the framework accord. The Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School has prepared this Policy Brief summarizing key facts, core concepts, and major arguments for and against the current deal aimed at stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The purpose of this Policy Brief is not to advocate support for or opposition to the tentative deal that has been negotiated, but rather to provide an objective, nonpartisan summary to inform Members and others in coming to their own conclusions. The team of experts who prepared this report includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and internationals, who have many disagreements among themselves but who agree that this Brief presents the essentials objectively.

Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Shadow Wars of Weapons Acquisition: Arms Denial and its Strategic Implications

| July 01, 2014

In trying to prevent adversaries from acquiring new military capabilities, countries often employ strategies of arms denial; e.g., “unilateral diplomacy,” supply chain interdiction, covert sabotage, and targeted military strikes. Using a game-theoretical model of weapons acquisition and denial, the authors posit that the prevalence of this approach gives rise to strategic effects that affect all players’ behavior.

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

Blocking All Paths to an Iranian Bomb: How the West Can Avoid a Nuclear Maginot Line

| June 2014

"In concentrating so much of their mindshare on imposing constraints on Iran's known nuclear facilities at Natanz, Fordow, and Arak, are the US and its five negotiating partners at risk of creating a nuclear Maginot line?" In this discussion paper, Director of the Belfer Center Graham Allison and MTA/ISP Research Fellow Oren Setter explore what the US might be missing: alternative pathways for Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals

In the lead-up to the nuclear security summit, Advancing Nuclear Security: Evaluating Progress and Setting New Goals outlines what was accomplished in a four-year effort launched in 2009 to secure nuclear material around the globe—and what remains to be done. The effort made significant progress, but some weapons-usable nuclear materials still remain “dangerously vulnerable." The authors highlight the continuing danger of nuclear and radiological terrorism and call for urgent action.

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

A WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East: Regional Perspectives

| Nov. 01, 2013

How significant is the proposal for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East, given the violence and turmoil rocking the region? The short essays in this discussion paper, by experts from across the region, provide a snap shot of the diversity of views on the issue. As a collection, the essays demonstrate the scale and complexity of the challenges associated with establishing a WMD-free zone in the region. The gaps between the positions of key parties are clearly evident; but the reader will also find unexpected commonalities.

Satellite photo of a uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, Iran

Reuters

Paper

Suspension of Nuclear Activities Is Not End of Diversion Risks

| July 14, 2013

A long-standing goal of diplomacy with Iran is persuading Iran to suspend its enrichment operations while it clarifies its past activities and while negotiations proceed on a more permanent resolution to the nuclear crisis. However, there is problem in using suspension of nuclear material production as a negotiating step: The technical details of suspension have never been clearly defined. The international community needs to be aware of the diversion risks during a suspension of enrichment activities and should mitigate these risks by including the necessary verification measures during negotiations and signing of any agreement on suspension.

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

A WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East: Creating the Conditions for Sustained Progress

| December 2012

How can the states of the Middle East begin to create the political conditions for achieving sustained progress toward the elimination of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons? This paper examines the challenges and obstacles that the parties of the region will need to overcome to bring a WMD-free zone into force, and recommends near-term steps for improving regional security.