Nuclear Issues

186 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.

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Journal Article - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

China is speeding up its plutonium recycling programs

| July 20, 2020

Since 1983, China has had the objective of developing breeder reactors to run on recycled plutonium. Since 2004, it has been progressing through three stages of its plutonium recycling strategy: from pilot to demonstration to commercial facilities. At the first stage, in 2010, China began testing a pilot civilian reprocessing plant and running a small experimental fast reactor. Although those pilot facilities did not perform well, since 2015 China has moved forward to the second stage, which includes a demonstration reprocessing plant, a mixed-oxide fuel facility, and two demonstration liquid-sodium-cooled fast-neutron reactors. Recent satellite images and other information show construction of those demonstration facilities is actively underway. Meanwhile, the China National Nuclear Corporation is pushing toward the third stage by negotiating with France’s nuclear fuel cycle company Orano (formerly Areva) over the purchase of a large commercial reprocessing plant, and has proposed construction of large commercial fast-neutron reactors by 2028.

Maxar Technologies and Google Earth

Maxar Technologies and Google Earth.

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Pinpointing China's New Plutonium Reprocessing Plant

| May 05, 2020

Over the last decade, China has been actively pursuing plans to recycle its spent nuclear fuel. In 2010, it began testing a pilot civilian plutonium reprocessing plant with a design capacity to produce about 50 metric tons of heavy metal per year at the Jiuquan nuclear complex in Gansu province (known as Plant 404). In July 2015, the China National Nuclear Corporation started construction of a larger demonstration reprocessing plant at the Gansu Nuclear Technology Industrial Park in Jinta, Gansu Province, about 100 kilometers from the Jinquan pilot plant. The demonstration reprocessing plant, which has a planned capacity of 200 metric tons per year, is to be commissioned in 2025.

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.

Chinese military vehicles in parade.

(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Dangerous Confidence? Chinese Views on Nuclear Escalation

    Authors:
  • Fiona S. Cunningham
  • M. Taylor Fravel
| Fall 2019

China and the United States hold opposing beliefs about whether nuclear war can be avoided in a potential crisis or armed conflict. Taken together, these opposing beliefs increase the risk of nuclear escalation and can lead to greater crisis instability.