Nuclear Issues

55 Items

A satellite view of Shigatse, Tibet, home to the PLA’s 6th Border Defense Regiment, near the China-India border.

Maxar Technologies / CNES Airbus via Google, used with permission

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

The Strategic Postures of China and India: A Visual Guide

| March 2020

Fueled by aggressive rhetoric from both capitals, Indian and Chinese ground forces engaged in a standoff between June and August 2017. The Doklam crisis, as it became known, stimulated introspection among officials and experts in both states about the future of their relationship. Politically, both strategic communities largely concluded that the peaceful resolution of border disputes is now less likely, forecasting more rivalry than cooperation. Militarily, Indian discussions on the strength of its military position against China in their disputed ground frontier areas have converged on the view that China holds the conventional and nuclear edge over India in this domain.

Based on our analysis of data on the location and capabilities of Indian and Chinese strategic forces and related military units, we conclude that this assessment of the balance of forces may be mistaken and a poor guide for Indian security and procurement policies. We recommend that instead of investing in new nuclear weapons platforms that our analysis suggests are not likely to be required to deter China, New Delhi should improve the survivability of its existing forces and fill the gap in global arms control leadership with an initiative on restraint and transparency.

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? 

The Chinese flag displayed at the Russian booth of import fair.

(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Analysis & Opinions - The National Interest

China and Russia: A Strategic Alliance in the Making

| Dec. 14, 2018

THE YEAR before he died in 2017, one of America’s leading twentieth-century strategic thinkers, Zbigniew Brzezinski, sounded an alarm. In analyzing threats to American security, “the most dangerous scenario,” he warned, would be “a grand coalition of China and Russia…united not by ideology but by complementary grievances.” This coalition “would be reminiscent in scale and scope of the challenge once posed by the Sino-Soviet bloc, though this time China would likely be the leader and Russia the follower.”

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping walk together at Mar-a-Lago on April 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

Can North Korea Drag the U.S. and China Into War?

| Sep. 11, 2017

Amid the exchange of threats between North Korea and the United States, ongoing North Korean nuclear and missile tests, and U.S. talk of “all options,” there is growing concern about the real possibility of war with North Korea. What many have not yet reckoned with is an even darker specter. Could events now cascading on the Korean Peninsula drag the U.S. and China into a great-power war?

FILE - In this Saturday, July 29, 2017 photo, People watch a TV news program showing an image of North Korea's latest test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. South Korea's latest leader Moon Jae-in told U.S. President Donald Trump he's happy to talk about North Korea's ICBM test but after his vacation. It might seem like an oddly timed break for a relatively new president during his country's biggest crisis. The signs read "North Korea

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File

Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

Give Up on Denuclearizing North Korea

| July 28, 2017

On Friday, North Korea tested a missile than can deliver a nuclear weapon to almost any target in the continental United States, marking a major accomplishment for a state than many thought was on its last legs in the early 1990s. But far from dead, North Korea has managed to evade every political, military, and economic barrier that five successive U.S. presidents put in its way. Now, the United States under President Donald Trump has a massive but surmountable challenge on its hands—deterring a nuclear-armed North Korea and preserving and strengthening America’s alliances with South Korea and Japan, countries currently questioning whether Kim Jong Un’s new capabilities might prevent the United States from coming to their defense.

South Korean soldiers look at a map illustrating about the Korean War at the Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, July 7, 2017. South Korea's new liberal President Moon Jae-in reiterated he's willing to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un even as he condemned the North's first intercontinental ballistic missile test-launch this week as a "reckless" move that incurred punishment by the international community. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

Analysis & Opinions - The Sunday Times

Donald Trump must threaten Kim Jong-un and pray he blinks

| July 09, 2017

"Since the election of Donald Trump as US president, the probability of a Sino-American conflict has soared. Last year Trump ran an aggressively anti-Chinese election campaign, repeatedly threatening to impose tariffs on Chinese imports. Trade is only one of several bones of contention. America remains committed to freedom of navigation in the South China Sea. China’s island-building programme is designed to make that sea Chinese in fact as well as in name. Trump is less committed than any US president since Richard Nixon to the 'One China' policy, which pretends that Taiwan is not an independent state."

Report - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

China's Uranium Enrichment Capacity: Rapid Expansion to Meet Commercial Needs

| August 20, 2015

Based on satellite imagery, Chinese publications, and discussions with Chinese experts, This report suggests that China has much more civilian enrichment capacity than previously thought, and even more is on the way. If these new estimates are correct, China has enough enrichment capacity to meet its nuclear power fuel requirements for the coming decade and beyond. Further, China will have excess enrichment capacity and will likely become a net exporter of commercial enrichment services.

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Plutonium Reprocessing, Breeder Reactors, and Decades of Debate: A Chinese Response

| July 1, 2015

Some observers believe that plutonium reprocessing is on the verge of an expansion, while others argue that the end of the practice is in sight. The risk of nuclear proliferation has always been the chief objection to reprocessing but proponents argue that today, with uranium enrichment technology more easily available, reprocessing no longer represents an efficient route toward nuclear weapons...

Journal Article - Arms Control Today

How to Strengthen Nuclear Security in China

| March, 2015

"China is a nuclear-weapon state and rising power entering an era of particularly rapid nuclear energy growth and fuel-cycle development. China’s approach to strengthening the security of its nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities is important because of the quantity of materials involved and the role that China plays in facilitating strong global action on nuclear security..."