Nuclear Issues

613 Items

A nuclear advanced designated marksman assists in a launch facility exercise.

Beau Wade, 341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

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

A Sense of Purpose: The Bedrock of the U.S. Nuclear Deterrent

| June 2020

"The paradox of war is, the adversary will always move against your perceived weakness.  So a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent is there to ensure a war that can never be won, is never fought." Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis went on to say, "I am absolutely convinced that having this safe, secure, and effective deterrent is critical—the most critical piece of our nation's defense."  “At the end of the day, deterrence comes down to the men and women in uniform.” The question this paper addresses is: how do we motivate Airmen to give their best to perform this unsung duty, day after day, for years at a time?

 

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

Building Sustainable Relationships, Energy, and Security in the Middle East

Spring 2020

While the Middle East Initiative is focused entirely on the MENA region, several other Center programs are also working on issues related to the Middle East, including Future of Diplomacy, Geopolitics of Energy, and the Managing the Atom.

Security Line at an Airport

ahlynk/Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - The Atlantic

The Recurring Folly of ‘If You See Something, Say Something’

| Jan. 06, 2020

Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers on Friday that their city might be subject to retaliatory attacks from Iran. “I’m not saying this to be alarmist,” the mayor said as he and his underlings ticked off—in a slightly alarming fashion—a series of defensive measures the city might take after the American air strike that killed the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Though the New York Police Department had received no specific, credible threats, de Blasio and other officials warned of more bag checks at the subways and increased police presence throughout the city. The city is no stranger to terrorism and would maintain a better-safe-than-sorry posture. “If you see something, say something,” de Blasio said.

Recent talk of homeland threats, and the just-in-case operational response, are based on nothing more than the rather uncontroversial assessment that Iran will feel obliged to do something to respond to the killing of Soleimani. The homeland-security practices to which Americans became accustomed after 9/11 long ago became a bad habit—one more divorced than ever before from the kinds of threats the United States might actually face. Intended to calm the public, gestures like the ones de Blasio described presume that Iran would be both reckless and capable enough to target an American city—and that greater vigilance alone would prepare us for that possibility. Now nearly two decades old, the post-9/11 style of security theater also risks masking the real vulnerabilities in the American homeland against a potential Iranian action.

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.

A desalination test facility on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi in 2015 (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell).

AP Photo/Jon Gambrell

Analysis & Opinions - LobeLog

Gulf Escalation Threatens Drinking Water

| June 26, 2019

The Persian Gulf is one of the most populous and environmentally-sensitive regions in the world. Consequently, it is no surprise that Gulf states are increasingly dependent on desalination for their drinking water. But that dependence carries severe risks in a region as volatile as the Gulf has been, especially in light of recent tensions between the United States and Iran. Any accident or military conflict in the Gulf could cause massive spills of long-lasting contaminants such as crude oil or radioactive material into its waters, which could seriously threaten the lives and well-being of millions of people in the region.

Iranian parliamentarians dressing in IRGC uniforms to demonstrate solidarity  following the Trump administration's terrorist designation of the organization.

IRNA

Analysis & Opinions

The Iran–U.S. Escalation: Causes and Prospects

| June 09, 2019

Despite the continuing debate in Tehran, the principle of “no negotiation under pressure” with the United States remains a consensual principle among all members of the current regime. The Supreme Leader has expressed this position by stating that the negotiations with the Trump administration are “double poison”. While Iran’s regional enemies are pushing for confrontation, the international community remains supportive of Tehran’s political position, as long as it stays committed to the nuclear deal. Existing indicators do not point at any willingness for confrontation from either side – at least at the moment. And although some regional actors have attempted to pacify the tension, the prospects for a truce remain unlikely within the current context.

Iranian demonstrators in Tehran, Iran

Tasnim

Analysis & Opinions - Aljazeera

Why Trump's strategy against Iran is likely to fail

| June 05, 2019

While Iranians are suffering from the economic crisis, the US "maximum pressure" strategy is compelling them to rally around the flag, rather than try to "take down the regime". This is not only because the cultural value of resistance is relatively high, but also because the more the Iranian leadership resists foreign pressure, the more legitimacy it gains.

A traditional Iranian bazaar in the city of Kashan

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions - The Hill

Can Iran Weather the Trump Storm?

| May 03, 2019

In the past 10 years, oil exports have averaged about $67 billion in Iran. Last year, they dropped by two-thirds, and they are expected to drop below $30 billion this year.  There are reasons to believe that, with appropriate policies, the country can live with this level of oil exports, albeit at a reduced standard of living, and even do itself some good in the long run by reducing its dependence on oil.

Iran has been there before. In 2012, when President Obama ratcheted up U.S. sanctions against Iran, oil exports dropped by 27.5 percent, and GDP fell by 6.2 percent. In 2015, sanctions and the collapse of oil prices further reduced oil exports to $32 billion, a decade-long low, and GDP declined by 1.6 percent. If Iran’s leadership is to successfully resist U.S. demands, it must do more than find ways to evade sanctions. A lot depends on its ability to adopt a plan that reduces the economy’s dependence on oil, while distributing the burden of restructuring equitably across social groups.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani

Wikicommons

Analysis & Opinions

The Unimportance Of New Oil Sanctions

| Apr. 25, 2019

For the Islamic Republic, resistance to Washington has become a cultural norm, and it considers independence (esteghlal) as the main achievement of the 1979 revolution.  According to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Iran would have to meet 12 conditions before the United States will renegotiate the nuclear deal and consider removing its sanctions. These conditions, which are nothing short of surrender on Iran’s part, are either set to force Iran out of the nuclear deal and therefore trigger the return of UN sanctions, or they are a thinly veiled call for regime change.