Nuclear Issues

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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.

US President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sign the New START Treaty in Prague in 2010.

en.kremlin.ru

Analysis & Opinions - PRI's The World

Will New START nuclear treaty survive ‘hostile’ US-Russia relations?

| June 23, 2020

The United States and Russia have about 91% of the world's nuclear warheads. And the arms control pact — the New START Treaty — between the two nations expires next year. Matthew Bunn spoke with The World's Marco Werman about the implications of the treaty.

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.

Military helicopters fly over the training ground during strategic command and staff exercises Center-2019 at Donguz shooting range near Orenburg, Russia, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019.

AP Photo/Sergei Grits

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

Defense Playbook for Campaigns

    Authors:
  • Richard Kuzma
  • David Michelson
  • Jacqueline Parziale
  • Kathryn Reed
  • Ryan Solís
  • Tom Wester
  • William Wright
| March 2020

The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) is predicated on a single organizing principle: America’s military pre-eminence is rapidly eroding. This is not a new concept. For years, experts have warned that the economic and technological advancements of U.S. adversaries, coupled with the 2008 financial crisis and America’s focus on peripheral conflicts, have caused a decline in America’s military dominance. 

In this context, the advances of near-peer competitors such as China and Russia have created plausible “theories of victory” in potential conflicts across Eastern Europe and East Asia. Competitors’ unaddressed improvements in strategic innovation, economic investment, and dual-use technology increases the risk of conflict and strains the U.S. alliance system. It is urgent that the United States reestablish and maintain credible deterrents against these near-peer competitors. After decades of focusing on post-Cold War ‘shaping’ operations, the American military needs to reinvigorate for full spectrum great power competition.

This report is intended as a blueprint on how to begin that process from graduate students at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. Contained inside are 12 memorandums. Each provides a high-level overview and specific recommendations on a key issue of American defense policy. 

Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks as he chairs a meeting on drafting constitutional changes at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. Putin proposed a set of constitutional amendments that could keep him in power well past the end of his term in 2024.

Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Analysis & Opinions - The Boston Globe

What’s Putin’s plan now?

| Jan. 16, 2020

Putin is rumored to prefer focusing on foreign policy, where the Kremlin has proved itself to be a skilled player, while finding structural problems at home too boring to focus on. However, unless these are solved, he or his successor will continue to confront the reality that Russia remains too far behind the United States and China economically and demographically to be a true peer to these countries in the changing global order.

Photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin visits the exhibition - 'Memory speaks. The road through the war' in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. Putin attends events marking the 77th anniversary of the break of Nazi's siege of Leningrad. The Red Army broke the nearly 900-day blockade of the city on January 19, 1943 after fierce fighting.

Alexei Danichev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Analysis & Opinions - Russia Matters

What Stops US and Russia From Stumbling Into War?

| Jan. 09, 2020

As we are all well aware, the original Cold War, which officially ended 40 years ago this month, featured a number of close calls that almost turned it into a hot war. Thankfully, neither the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 nor the Able Archer exercise of 1983 (nor any other perilous incidents), led to a war between Washington and Moscow. More recently, however, respected statesmen have again begun to sound alarms. “Not since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis has the risk of a U.S.-Russian confrontation involving the use of nuclear weapons been as high as it is today,” former U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn warned in a recent article in Foreign Affairs. I have expressed some doubts about this proposition, but it is nevertheless worth asking what it is—other than the fear of mutually assured destruction—that keeps the U.S. and Russia from stumbling into a war today or tomorrow. Part of the answer lies in the bilateral and multilateral agreements specifically designed to prevent incidents that could escalate into a war.