Nuclear Issues

332 Items

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Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Center Experts Reflect on 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima Bombing

On August 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, launching the nuclear age. On the 75th anniversary of that somber event, Belfer Center experts reflect on the event and its aftermath. 

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Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP, File

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

'What About China?' and the Threat to US–Russian Nuclear Arms Control

| 2020

The administration of President Donald J. Trump has consistently used fear of China to undermine nearly five decades of bipartisan consensus on US–Russian nuclear arms control. The negative consequences of these actions may last far beyond the Trump presidency. If generations of agreement between Democrats and Republicans on bilateral nuclear treaties with Russia erode, it will pose a significant setback to US national security and global stability. Future leaders may ultimately need to consider new approaches to nuclear risk reduction that preserve the benefits of the arms control regime.

Chinese military vehicles carrying DF-41 ballistic missiles roll during a parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Communist China in Beijing, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2019. Trucks carrying weapons including a nuclear-armed missile designed to evade U.S. defenses rumbled through Beijing as the Communist Party celebrated its 70th anniversary in power with a parade Tuesday that showcased China's ambition as a rising global force.

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Living with Uncertainty: Modeling China's Nuclear Survivability

| Spring 2020

A simplified nuclear exchange model demonstrates that China’s ability to launch a successful nuclear retaliatory strike in response to an adversary’s nuclear first strike has been and remains far from assured. This study suggests that China’s criterion for effective nuclear deterrence is very low.

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.

Joseph Nye

Martha Stewart

Audio - Harvard Magazine

How Do Past Presidents Rank in Foreign Policy?

| Mar. 02, 2020

How do presidents incorporate morality into decisions involving the national interest? Moral considerations explain why Truman, who authorized the use of nuclear weapons in Japan during World War II, later refused General MacArthur's request to use them in China during the Korean War. What is contextual intelligence, and how does it explain why Bush 41 is ranked first in foreign policy, but Bush 43 is found wanting? Is it possible for a president to lie in the service of the public interest? In this episode, Professor Joseph S. Nye considers these questions as he explores the role of morality in presidential decision-making from FDR to Trump.

Photo of Iranian lawmakers chant anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans to protest against the U.S. killing of Iranian top general Qassem Soleimani, at the start of an open session of parliament in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. Soleimani's death Friday in Iraq further heightens tensions between Tehran and Washington after months of trading attacks and threats that put the wider Middle East on edge.

(Mohammad Hassanzadeh/Tasnim News Agency via AP)

Analysis & Opinions - The New York Times

The Dire Consequences of Trump's Suleimani Decision

| Jan. 04, 2020

Americans would be wise to brace for war with Iran, writes Susan Rice.

"Full-scale conflict is not a certainty, but the probability is higher than at any point in decades. Despite President Trump’s oft-professed desire to avoid war with Iran and withdraw from military entanglements in the Middle East, his decision to order the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s second most important official, as well as Iraqi leaders of an Iranian-backed militia, now locks our two countries in a dangerous escalatory cycle that will likely lead to wider warfare."

Photo of pro-Iranian militiamen and their supporters stage a sit-in in front of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020.

(AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

Analysis & Opinions - USA Today

Attack on U.S. Embassy in Iraq Shows Trump is Failing. He Walked into Iran's Trap.

| Jan. 02, 2020

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo started having a tough 2020 only one day into the new year. He was forced to postpone his trip to Kyiv, Ukraine, this week to attend to the new crisis in Iraq. As fraught as Pompeo’s visit to Kyiv was going to be, in the shadow of the impeachment battle, Iraq trumped Kyiv after the New Year’s Eve attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.

It is President Donald Trump’s failed policy toward Iran that has brought us to this combustible moment.