Nuclear Issues

146 Items

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.

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

A Theory of Engagement With North Korea

| May 2019

At the Hanoi Summit in February 2019, the United States and North Korea reached a familiar impasse—diplomacy broke down over the appropriate order of near-term steps, and the world was left wondering whether any package of rewards would be enough to incentivize denuclearization.

In a new Managing the Atom Discussion Paper, Christopher Lawrence outlines an alternative conceptual framework for engaging North Korea. Rather than offering rewards for nuclear rollback, the approach focuses on building credibility around the notion of a shared political future. Lawrence suggests that physical actions—such as shared investments in integrated rail, electricity, or mining infrastructure—speak more credibly about the political future for all the parties involved than do written commitments or more transient “carrots” and “sticks.” The international relationships created by infrastructure projects may alter North Korea's security calculus over time, and incrementally reduce its dependence on nuclear weapons. Drawing lessons from the 1994 Agreed Framework, Lawrence reinterprets the history of nonproliferation engagement with North Korea, and illuminates possible opportunities to break the diplomatic impasse after the Hanoi summit.

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.

Trump and Kim shake hands at the Hanoi summit meeting on February 27, 2019 (Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo).

Shealah Craighead/Official White House Photo

Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

After the Hanoi Summit: Next Steps for the US, North Korea, and Vietnam

| Mar. 02, 2019

In the aftermath of the Hanoi summit, it is important to assess how U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will proceed to avoid a collapse of the denuclearization process as well as how Vietnam can reap long-term benefits for its international profile and tourism industry. It may be the case that the Hanoi summit was a failure, but a necessary one in the context of growing unrealistic expectations from both Washington and Pyongyang. Vietnam still has a lot to do after the summit to continue contributing to North Korea’s reform and denuclearization.

The delegation of the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry led by Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh, left, meets with North Korea Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong at the Mansudae Assembly Hall in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Feb. 13, 2019 (Cha Song Ho/Associated Press).

Cha Song Ho/Associated Press

Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

Trump-Kim 2: Why Hanoi?

| Feb. 15, 2019

It was finally revealed by Trump via his usual communication channel – Twitter – that Hanoi was the venue for the much-anticipated meeting. It is most likely that the choice of venue was made with consent from Kim; thus the decision also gave clues as to North Korea’s intentions in participating in, and plans for the upcoming Hanoi summit.

Hanoi (a_brlnr via Flickr)

a_brlnr via Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

Why Vietnam Should Host the Second Trump-Kim Summit

| Jan. 16, 2019

Last week, CNN reported that Hanoi, alongside with Bangkok and Hawaii l, has been shortlisted by the United States as possible venue for a second summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un. At the same time, citing an anonymous South Korean diplomat, the Korean Herald put Hanoi, Hawaii, and Singapore instead of Bangkok as top candidates for the follow-up meeting between the leaders of the United States and North Korea after their historic talk in Singapore last year. According to another South Korean newspaper, the Munhwa Ilbo, it was also Hanoi where American and North Korean officials met recently to discuss the planning for this event.