Nuclear Issues

652 Items

bleached radiation warning sign

Wikimedia CC/ArticCynda

Analysis & Opinions - The Washington Post

The Deadly Fallout of Disinformation

| July 08, 2020

Calder Walton writes that autocratic regimes — China, Russia and Iran — have been using social media to try to influence U.S. public opinion. History reveals how and why a one-party regime used disinformation to salvage its reputation following a disaster — the Soviet Union's 1986 Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, whose history also reveals how such disinformation can be countered.

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.

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.

The nuclear archive warehouse outside Tehran (Satellite image via Google).

Satellite image via Google

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

The Iran Nuclear Archive: Impressions and Implications

In mid-January, a team of scholars from the Belfer Center’s Intelligence and Managing the Atom Projects traveled to Tel Aviv, Israel to examine samples of, and receive briefings on, an archive of documents related to Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The large cache includes some 55,000 pages of documents and a further 55,000 files on CDs that included photos and videos. A clandestine Israeli intelligence operation spirited the materials out of Iran in early 2018.

The documents that the Belfer group were shown confirm that senior Iranian officials had decided in the late 1990s to actually manufacture nuclear weapons and carry out an underground nuclear test; that Iran’s program to do so made more technical progress than had previously been understood; and that Iran had help from quite a number of foreign scientists, and access to several foreign nuclear weapon designs. The archive also leaves open a wide range of questions, including what plan, if any, Iran has had with respect to nuclear weapons in the nearly 16 years since Iran’s government ordered a halt to most of the program in late 2003. 

This brief report summarizes the group’s conclusions about what the archive reveals about Iran’s program and questions that remain open.

Photo taken on Feb. 15, 1989, people and relatives greet Soviet Army soldiers driving on their armored personnel carriers after crossing a bridge on the border between Afghanistan and then Soviet Uzbekistan near the Uzbek town of Termez, Uzbekistan.

(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Analysis & Opinions - Russia Matters

Lessons for Leaders: What Afghanistan Taught Russian and Soviet Strategists

| Feb. 28, 2019

The following is a selection of military-political lessons gleaned mostly from the recollections of Soviet strategists who were involved in making and executing the fateful decision to send troops to Afghanistan, as well as from writings by some of post-Soviet Russia’s prominent military analysts. Where possible, the author made an effort to relay these strategists’ analysis of the failures and successes of the intervention because he felt that such assessments, based on first-hand experience, are not always given their due in English-language literature on the subject. 

Richard Visek, left, agent of the U.S.A. and members of the U.S. delegation waits for judges to enter the International Court of Justice

AP/Peter Dejong

Analysis & Opinions - Lawfare

Certain Iranian Assets: The International Court of Justice Splits the Difference Between the United States and Iran

| Feb. 14, 2019

In its Feb. 13 judgment, the International Court of Justice framed the Certain Iranian Assets (Iran v. United States) case as a simple case about treaty interpretation. It significantly narrowed what could have been a major case on the international law of state immunity, which would likely have resulted in a rebuke of U.S. practice with respect to the terrorism exception under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.

Trump’s Iraq Visit Alone Won’t Undo Damage He Did Last Week

The White House from Washington, DC/Wikimedia Commons

Analysis & Opinions - Bloomberg Opinion

Trump’s Iraq Visit Alone Won’t Undo Damage He Did Last Week

| Dec. 26, 2018

The move of President Donald Trump to visit Baghdad on Wednesday is a small, good one, amid a week of calamitous decisions. The press will understandably highlight the time that Trump spends with U.S. troops. Yet a key objective of the trip will have been to shore up the new Iraqi government's confidence in the U.S., as Iraqi officials must be high on the list of those shocked by the president’s recent decisions to rapidly withdraw U.S. forces from Syria and Afghanistan. Perhaps the president has realized that his administration has some hard work to do if there is any hope of keeping his latest determinations from dramatically strengthening Iran.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin during their joint news conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Monday, July 16, 2018.

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Analysis & Opinions - Just Security

Helsinki Summit: A Time for Choosing—Three observations by former senior CIA officer

| July 16, 2018

Rolf Mowatt-Larssen: "The US intelligence community can no longer trust the President’s judgment after he clearly sided with Russia in the Mueller investigation and the underlying intelligence information that formed the basis of the indictments of twelve Russian military intelligence officers."

Donald Trump in Syracuse, New York, April 16, 2016; Vladimir Putin in Moscow, Russia, April 14, 2016

Carlo Allegri/Reuters; Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Analysis & Opinions - The Cipher Brief

Top-Down Presidential Leadership: The Helsinki Summit

| July 11, 2018

Two conditions are clear as the U.S. and Russian Presidents prepare meet in Helsinki. First, U.S.-Russian relations are arguably at their lowest point since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. Second, both presidents have domestic realities that constrain their flexibility to achieve compromise in the many areas that have caused relations to falter.