Nuclear Issues

689 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.

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.

Steam billowing from cooling tower of nuclear power plant

AP Photo/David Veis/CTK

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Proliferation and the Logic of the Nuclear Market

| Spring 2019

What explains the scale and speed of nuclear proliferation? One key factor is the level of competition among suppliers in the market for nuclear materials and technologies. When suppliers form a cartel, fewer countries can acquire what they need for a nuclear weapons program. If great power competition intensifies, suppliers will find it harder to cooperate and nuclear proliferation could accelerate.

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.

Indian Army missile on display in parade

(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

India’s Counterforce Temptations: Strategic Dilemmas, Doctrine, and Capabilities

| Winter 2018/19

Since 2003, India has been building its nuclear arsenal beyond what is necessary for a purely retaliatory or minimum deterrence capability. India’s actions could lead to a regional arms race or even the use of nuclear weapons in a war with Pakistan.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow

AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko

Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

How the Next Nuclear Arms Race Will Be Different from the Last One

| 2019

All the world's nuclear-armed states (except for North Korea) have begun modernizing and upgrading their arsenals, leading many observers to predict that the world is entering a new nuclear arms race. While that outcome is not yet inevitable, it is likely, and if it happens, the new nuclear arms race will be different and more dangerous than the one we remember. More nuclear-armed countries in total, and three competing great powers rather than two, will make the competition more complex. Meanwhile, new non-nuclear weapon technologies — such as ballistic missile defense, anti-satellite weapons, and precision-strike missile technology — will make nuclear deterrence relationships that were once somewhat stable less so.

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.