Nuclear Issues

412 Items

Senator Lugar at a 2012 ceremony where he received the Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest award the Department of Defense can give a civilian, for his work to help denuclearize countries after the fall of the Soviet Union (DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo).

DoD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Senator Richard G. Lugar: An Appreciation

| Apr. 30, 2019

Sen. Richard Lugar—with his legislative partner, Sen. Sam Nunn—imagined the unimaginable. He championed a program to provide assistance to military forces in the former Soviet republics holding tens of thousands of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons aimed at the United States and our allies, shortly after America’s existential enemy, the Soviet Union, expired. All told, the Nunn-Lugar cooperative threat reduction program provided more than $14 billion to, among other things, deactivate 13,300 nuclear warheads, eliminate 1,473 intercontinental ballistic missiles, and destroy almost 40,000 metric tons of chemical agents. The US departments of Defense and Energy also worked with Russia to improve security at 148 sites still holding nuclear weapons or weapons-grade material from Murmansk to Kamchatka.

Delegates at the United Nations give a standing ovation after a vote to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons on July 7, 2017 (Mary Altaffer/Associated Press).

Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Journal Article - Arms Control Today

The Future of the Nuclear Order

| April 2019

Foreign policy pundits have bemoaned the unraveling of the post-World War II international order in recent years, describing threats to the multilateralism and liberalism enshrined in postwar institutions. An often overlooked component of that structure is the global nuclear order, which, like other parts of the postwar system, was created for magnanimous and selfish aims: reducing the dangers of nuclear weapons for all and serving the interests of the world’s most powerful states.

Book Chapter - Routledge

Dim Hope for Disarmament and Approaching Risk of Build-Up

| March 2019

Further nuclear reduction under the current regimes seems unlikely. The US argues that Russia has violated the INF Treaty by developing and deploying a land-based cruise missile. Russia also makes the accusation that the Aegis Ashore missile defense system in Europe, capable of launching cruise missiles, has violated the INF. Furthermore, President Trump has repeatedly expressed his unwillingness to extend the New START Treaty for five more years after it expires in February 2021. The US-Russia bilateral disarmament process seems to have terminated. There have been some signs of nuclear build-up. The new US Nuclear Posture Review emphasizes the role of nuclear weapons while de-emphasizing strategic stability, reduces the threshold for nuclear use and calls for developing new low-yield SLBM and sea-launched cruise missiles. America’s nuclear policy might stimulate Russia and China to build new nuclear capabilities. North Korea’s advances in nuclear and long-range missile programs justify Washington’s investment in homeland missile defense, which in turn undermines China and Russia’s nuclear retaliatory capability and might result in a defense-offense arms race.

A U.S. Trident II missile launches (Wikimedia Commons).

Wikimedia Commons

Analysis & Opinions - War on the Rocks

Can This New Approach to Nuclear Disarmament Work?

| Jan. 23, 2019

An estimated 14,485 nuclear weapons exist on earth today — most are far more powerful than those that twisted railway ties, leveled buildings, and crushed, poisoned, and burned human beings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The majority of these weapons belong to the United States and Russia. For some in the U.S. government, including Chris Ford, assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, this number represents significant disarmament progress since Cold War highs of over 70,000 nuclear weapons. They argue the current security environment means that further reductions are not possible at this time. In contrast, for many disarmament advocates and officials from non-nuclear weapons states, this number is still far too high. They are now clamoring to ban all nuclear weapons. Because of this divide, according to Ford, we currently face a “disarmament crisis.”

Image of China’s People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force drill with a ballistic missile launcher

(China Military / 81.cn)

Policy Brief - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Inadvertent Escalation and the Entanglement of Nuclear Command-and-Control Capabilities

    Author:
  • James Acton
| Oct. 29, 2018

The risks of nuclear escalation between the U.S. and China or Russia are greater than ever given the possibility of misinterpreted cyber espionage and military strikes against early warning systems. What can be done to reduce this risk?

The Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Pennsylvania transits the Hood Canal in Washington.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda R. Gray

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Escalation through Entanglement: How the Vulnerability of Command-and-Control Systems Raises the Risks of an Inadvertent Nuclear War

    Author:
  • James Acton
| Summer 2018

The risks of nuclear escalation are greater than ever given the possibility of misinterpreted cyber espionage and military strikes against early warning systems. 

People on paddleboats in Gorky Park in Moscow. July 12, 2018 (Marco Verch/Flickr).

Marco Verch/Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

In Gorky Park, With Nuclear Worries

| Aug. 13, 2018

Today, both Russia and the United States are modernizing their nuclear forces to keep these threats robust for decades to come — though their forces’ total numbers are limited by treaties (thank goodness). The U.S. program is expected to cost $1.2 trillion over 30 years, and the Trump administration has added new, smaller nuclear weapons that critics warn might seem more usable should war come. Russia’s program includes entirely new types of strategic weapons, from an intercontinental torpedo designed to blow up U.S. coastal cities to a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed cruise missile.