Nuclear Issues

133 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.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer uses a handheld GR135- Radiation Isttope Identifier to check a container that was stopped after passing through a radiation detection device at the port of Newark in February 2006 (AP Photo/Mel Evans).

AP Photo/Mel Evans

Journal Article - Nonproliferation Review

Combating Nuclear Smuggling? Exploring Drivers and Challenges to Detecting Nuclear and Radiological Materials at Maritime Facilities

| June 03, 2019

International concern over nuclear terrorism has grown during the past few decades. This has driven a broad spectrum of efforts to strengthen nuclear security globally, including the widespread adoption of radiation-detection technology for border monitoring. Detection systems are now deployed at strategic locations for the purported purpose of detecting and deterring the smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials. However, despite considerable investment in this area, few studies have examined how these programs are implemented or the operational challenges they face on a day-to-day basis. This article seeks to address this with a focus on radiation-detection efforts at maritime facilities. Utilizing practitioner interviews and a survey, this article identifies the factors that influence the planning and use of these systems in this fast-moving environment. The results clearly demonstrate that the implementation of these systems varies significantly across different national and organizational contexts, resulting in a fragmented global nuclear-detection architecture, which arguably undermines efforts to detect trafficked nuclear-threat materials. Greater consideration should therefore be given to developing international standards and guidance, designing and adopting tools to support key parts of the alarm assessment process, and broader sharing of good practice.

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.

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.