Nuclear Issues

123 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.

FBI agents leave a raid in Trenton, N.J. on July 19, 2012

Julio Cortez/AP

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

The Long Arm

| February 2019

The networks of middlemen and intermediaries involved in the illicit procurement of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related goods and technologies often operate outside of the United States, which presents several legal and political challenges regarding U.S. trade control enforcement activities. This report considers the extraterritorial efforts of U.S. law enforcement in counterproliferation-related activities and their implications. In other words, how does the United States contend with violations of its weapons of mass destruction (WMD)-related trade controls in overseas jurisdictions, and what are the implications for broader U.S. and international nonproliferation efforts, as well as wider international security and economic concerns? 

Paper - Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy

Stabilizing Sino-Indian Security Relations: Managing the Strategic Rivalry After Doklam

| June 21, 2018

The paper provides a detailed analysis of the contemporary Sino-Indian conventional ground and nuclear force balances and carefully reconstructs how mutual developments in these areas are perceived by both New Delhi and Beijing.

Hezbollah flag in Syria, 27 September 2005.

Creative Commons

Analysis & Opinions - Council on Foreign Relations Press

The Middle East After the Iran Nuclear Deal: Chuck Freilich

| September 7, 2015

"A takeover of Syria by the self-proclaimed Islamic State or Syrian rebel groups would also prove dangerous. Heinous as it is, Bashar al-Assad's regime still has many assets to lose in a confrontation with Israel and can thus be deterred. It will take time for non-state actors to develop similar assets."

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Experts Assess the Iran Agreement of 2015: Chuck Freilich

| July 17, 2015

"It is time for the prime minister to accept that this is the deal and to do what he should have done from the beginning: engage with the administration on the means of minimizing the threat to Israel and maximizing Israel's contribution to the agreement's successful implementation. Israel has intelligence capabilities and experience that can be invaluable in the years to come."

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.

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

10 Things World Leaders Are Thankful For

| November 26, 2014

"Iran's supreme leader should be grateful to congressional hard-liners like Sens. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), and to the various right-wing organizations that are working hard to derail a possible nuclear deal. If the latest extension of the talks goes nowhere and congressional opposition gets the United States blamed for the failure...the opportunity to open Iran up to the outside world will be postponed yet again....Treating Cuba like a pariah for 50 years hasn't toppled the Castro brothers, and keeping Iran isolated and sanctioned hasn't shaken the Islamic Republic much, either."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows an illustration as he describes his concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions during his address to the 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters, Sep. 27, 2012.

AP Photo

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

Inside Bibi's Bunker

| October 4, 2012

"How these debates will be resolved depends on Israel's unique policymaking process. The question of whether to strike Iran is not just up to Netanyahu: In Israel, like other parliamentary democracies, the premier is merely "first among equals" — not the chief executive or commander in chief, as in the United States. With the exception of very limited circumstances, such as responding to imminent attacks, the Israeli prime minister requires cabinet approval for all national security decisions."

Book - RAND Corporation

Containing Iran: Strategies for Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge

| September 2012

This study assesses current U.S. policy options on the Iranian nuclear question. It suggests that U.S. goals can be met through patient and forward-looking policymaking. Specifically, the United States can begin to lay the groundwork for an effective containment policy while continuing efforts to forestall Iranian weaponization. A successful containment policy will promote long-term positive political change in Iran while avoiding counterproductive provocation.